As I look into the mirror, my reflection reminds me of my grandmother. And it pains me. Despite our striking resemblace I am nothing but a mere reflection of her memory.
It amazes yet chills me to the bone how a living, breathing person in a moment, gets reduced to a photograph.
Reminding us of the times spent together. Of the laughter and the tears.
But photographs do fade, and so do memories.
I lost my grandmother when I was 11 years old. Its been almost 9 years.I loved her dearly, as much as a grandchild can. But I feel like I didn’t love her enough. These 9 years have given me ample time to revisit every moment, every word I said.
I wish there was something I could have said that would have altered the reality. Or something that I probably shouldn’t have.
I remember spending winter evenings with her, roasting jacket potatoes over a merrily crackling fire. That smell of wood and butter.
Remember those wrinkled hands teaching me how to tie shoe laces. The way they moved in a smooth almost mechanical motion as she spent hours knitting jumpers for her children. How her pupils darted from one corner to the other, trying to focus.Criss crossing each knot, despite her weak eyes.The colours and patterns a symbol of her love.
I remember the tinkle of her bangles as she dried her long hair after a bath. Or the jingle of the brass bell as she did her morning Aarti. I still light sandalwood incence sticks, just like she did. She did so to remember God. I do so to remember her.
The way she spent hours fussing over my hair. To make purfect!
For only she was allowed to dress me up. For I was her princess. How I was the only one allowed to pull her cheeks or wear her wristwatch. I still have that wrist watch, it is broken beyond repair.(Like I am) The needles no longer move. I wish the needles of time could have stopped moving when you were around.
I remember her handwriting..as she spent afternoons in the balcony, penning down verses in the praise of God. How every maatra, every line was so precise. Her calligraphy is still preserved in my mind..and inside the suitcase under my bed.
I remember the stories she made,to put me to sleep. Every time a different plot. How I was always the hero, the avenger, the victor. She made me as strong as I never could be. She made me confident enough to win over the monsters under my bed, and the bullies in school.
How she saved money and bought me the most expensive Barbie doll. I never asked for it. But she was the only one who saw me silently gazing at the shop display. For her, the grand daughter deserved the best. 20 year old me still has that doll; it is my most prized possession.
How enthusiastic she was for evening walks. Smiling and greeting strangers. Having conversations with squirrels.
How she could name birds just by listening to them chirp. Whenever I hear birds twitter, I imagine its you sending me a message from the heavens above.
She would order a pizza not because she liked it..but because she knew we did. And how she excitedly would drink from a straw. The fresh lime soda never failed to lift her spirits. Its the drink I always order, as a toast to her.
How she preserved every notebook of her son, because of her love. And how they would take her back to his childhood. In the same way as I have preserved every little souvenir I could find, diaries, shawls, photographs,sarees, that almost empty perfume bottle…wishing, hoping, they could take me back.
However as time passes by, I have begun to question my memories. The voice that I remember- which would enter my childhood dreams, as sweet as honey.. to gently wake me up, is it truly hers or is it what I think she may have sounded like?
The little details I remember are they true, or a fabrication of my mind? Is my mind building bridges and filling gaps, altering what reality may have been, just to suit my mental craving.
The ocean of time is drowning me. And I am flailing helplessly, trying to hold on to bits and pieces of floating ruble. Untill the ocean swallows me whole and there is nothing but nothingness. That is my biggest fear.
My memories are all I have of her. And I am not convinced of their authenticity. Memories are but a mere reflection, never as perfect as the moment passed.
I wish there was more. So I keep digging withing the confines of my mind, in hopes of finding some treasure, some memory that may have escaped my attention.
I am chasing fireflies in a forest, but as soon as I catch one in my fist it dissolves. Leaving nothing but a sensation that something had existed.(Like death)
Time is but a sieve, and my memories are like grains of sand. As time goes on their size diminishing. Till every grain passes freely.
The perfume bottle is empty now. Evaporate. The fragrance struggles to linger, as do her memories.
But I will hold on. I will build sand castles with strong fortifications to withold the sieve of time. I will collect all the rubble, latch onto it untill my knuckles give away. I will capture fireflies in glass jars. I will etch my olfactory lobes with every note of that perfume. I will be as strong as I never could be, as strong as I was in her stories.
I will never let new moments and new memories erase the ones with spent with her. I have carved her essence with the arteries and veins running through my heart.
And with every passing day, every pulse and every breath. I look up at the sky
and my heart screams –
“I remember you Dadi, I always have and I always will!”