My mother is currently on the way to the airport for her flight to India. As usual, she will be staying there until February. Her usual plans for stays with friends and relatives in India are now somewhat full of holes. A brother and a sister have each written obnoxious letters warning her not to come and stay with them. Other siblings have suddenly decided that their houses are too small or that their building works mean that they have no space for her.

I couldn’t stop her going. She’s not my child, she’s still my mother, even though I have parental responsibility, really, now. And my mum has so far managed to convince her doctor that she functions perfectly well and that she is not confused at all. The doctor asked my mum when my birthday was and she replied correctly with the month and year. Until last year, when she asked my daughter to write down our birthdays for her, she had not known even that.

This situation would be sad enough if my mother weren’t so vulnerable but last night she telephoned me to ask whether she had been to see me yesterday afternoon. She had but she couldn’t remember the visit at all. I am seriously concerned for my mother’s safety in India. The last time I see her before she goes away, it always crosses my mind that this might be the last time I see her, but this time I’m even more concerned than usual. In my mind, I see her wandering confused and vulnerable around India, ignored and ridiculed. Rejected. I hope that people look kindly on her, despite themselves.