My aunt, my mother’s dear sister
suspended by distilled memories.
Where can the memories go?
The moments spent in that house in Mylapore
the grains of the wall and the dust of the tiles
settle in her blood stream,
the hollow of her brain
rings with the voices of people-
her mother, her father, brothers, sisters
all her cousins, the beloved uncle.
The smell of boiling milk
simmering with cream
as her mother ladled in sugar and cardamom
in the kitchen lit by glass slats fixed on the roof,
wraps her as a sheath in the ICU.
Unruly hair gathered in a long plait
skirt at her ankles
held by the strong breeze of a July morning
she walked past the temple to her school
squinting at the temple spires against the clear skies
watching the pigeons unsettle from their perches
the noise of the flutter of their wings
carried by the breeze from such a height.
From such a distance in life travels the breeze to touch her
in the hospital, pinned by tubes
images now tinctured with a dust of grey –
memories of her sick mother
breath rasping at her chest
as she lay dying in the room with blue windows
her lonely father slumped in large chair
shrunk with grief at the loss of his companion of fifty years
they began relationship as playmates, remained friends.
Memories of her husband
the brilliant and handsome man she married,
gaining girth, building the family
the meals cooked, the evenings spent with her four girls
in the valley town
climbing to the terrace on a winter evening
to see the sun light the mountains for the last time
as it sank beyond –
a moment stolen as her basmati boiled in the kitchen
and shallots waited to be shredded for rajma.
The body gradually wearing away
with years of hard work and age
ridden with pains, failing health
lines deepening around the eyes
hair thinning, skin filigreed with scales of wrinkles
face clouding with pains of tragedies
the passing away of her husband
a dear sister – her twin in spirit
a part of her wrenched away from her.
The wave crawls to the beach now
the foam kisses the sand wearily
buoyed only by memories.