Today was a normal day with normal things cluttering up time. Amongst the numerous things on the to do list, most of them trivial daily things was to share pictures of a dear aunt. (aunt sounds like such a formal distant kind of a term.. far away, like a strange pearl necklace wearing person with perfect hair) she wasnt an aunt but more a cute cuddly granny rolled into a friend.
My cute cuddly granny rolled into an aunt had passed away last week. Last weeks, I had acknowledged it, but sitting in another city I somehow didnt get it get it. In my head, she was right where I had met her last. In her room, by the bed, with the light streaming in having her afternoon chai with the three marie biscuits....
As I rummaged through the snaps taken on that normal afternoon, doing random nothings it somehow struck me. There were no more snaps to take. There were no more random afternoon chais to have, there was no goodbye I got to say.
What did I say to her that day as we left? I dont remember. Did I hug her tight? I dont remember.
A tear rolled down as I wrote these lines, she remains in my mind right there grinning her happy smile.
Tell me about her, my husband just asked as he saw me shed my tears.
I smiled. Where do I share? Where do I start?
She was summer. In her cotton sarees and smell of talc she sat in her house in Kolkatta beating the heat below the fan. Every summer holiday night, when we visited Calcutta, my mom would escape - being a mom- and run into her sister in laws house for a voracious gossip session. We kids were sometimes allowed to join in and sometimes were left with Uno and carrom for company.
The nights we were allowed to sneak in was lovely. We all plonked down on the cool red floors and tuned into the adult banter that was oh so much fun. Inner family dealings were discussed, advice shared, childhood tales of everyone heading to Victoria for a late night kulfi crammed in one Ambassador laughed about for every year. Every year they talked about the days when Petrol was Rs 2 a litre and exchanged notes on how the old friends were doing.
All this, while possibly there was a mini party on in the living room, where someone else was hanging out. I was too young to understand that my aunt wasnt ordinary, she was an exception to the rule. She was open in her thoughts in how she raised her family and how she handled crisis.
Standing now, I can appreciate just what a rebel she truly was.
Its strange - how we can never see the person in front of our eyes as a younger version of themselves. I wonder will my daughter connect to my teenage years. I see pictures of my parents, standing in bell bottom pants and think of them as different people than the mom and dad I know. You see people only in the mould that you cast them in. Dadi, nani, papa, mumma are who they are. They are not people with fears or insecurities, at least they weren't in my head like that for a really long time.
Writing this I take solace in all the Brian Weiss books that I have been reading. That souls travel together and we meet over and over again in different ways and for different reasons. Maybe soon she shall be here again, maybe we meet again this time as friends in a college campus. The possibilities are endless.
For now, for today. I need to say goodbye. I miss you, your presence and your joy. Your wisdom and the - saab cheek ho jayega - vibe. Your silence and your knowledge. Your laughter in the night. The cordless phone and the unique 'haaallooo'. the chai and the sarees, the dhai alloo subzi, ganga ram and the rain, my childhood is linked to you. Beta tension mat le, your counselling sessions and patient hearing. To being the my surrogate granny. thank you.