To Ajji, with love

Dear Ajji, Happy Birthday!
It is Varamahalakshmi, I wore my first Mysore Silk today and
Remembered your spectrum of sarees, clinking glass bangles and red bindi.
I miss you more than you can imagine.

 

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Dear Ajji, You are more than handful of words scrambled together
But words are the only comfort I know.
My wandering mind seeks you out, like a lost toddler in a crowded bazaar.
And lands on that fated day,
Bangalore summer afternoon slowly faded into a light drizzle,
Light rays poured into your hospital room intermingling with the stale air
You lay on the bed solemnly, painlessly.
The wrinkles under your eyes remained passive.
Sitting beside you, I touched your hand softly.
For the first time you didn’t even flinch.
Your chest rose and fell gracefully, eyes closed in deep slumber.
Amma said it was only a matter of time, you were with God now.
The atmosphere was cleaned by rain which now fell harder than ever
As the sun set, the sky was illuminated with a maroon hue, like the bindi on your forehead
A red carpet just for you, Ajji.
From the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a fleeting shadow, perhaps Lord Yama patiently awaiting you.
I kissed you goodnight.

That night they brought you home in an ice box
Your lips pulled back into a coy smile.
Thatha dug into his old possessions and pulled out a photograph of you.
It was old, torn and sepia, how old photographs should be
You were young, arthritis free and playful.
Relatives fawned over you, narrating stories of the Ajji I never knew.
Teacher, Headmistress, Friend.
Their voices spoke of love and adoration,
Decades of memories preserved in younger minds,
Timeless, like the photograph.

Sometimes when I stand at the door and sing ‘Bhaagyada Lakshmi Baaramma’
I wonder if you might walk in and sing with me
Holding the aarthi thatte between your thin fingers
As you’ve held my hand all these years

Dear Ajji, I miss you dearly
Do you remember making puri unde and chakli together?
Or when you quirkily asked me “Beer beka?”
Or the times you chided me for tiring Amma?
The bed still has your depressions in it.

I hope Vaikunta is treating you well, Ajji