The sound of the phone droned in my head in deep sleep. Rubbing my eyes awake I saw the clock show 3:48 AM. A phone call at that hour only meant one thing. Death. So it was. My cousin was calling to share the news that a great-aunt passed away. I put the receiver down and tried to go back to sleep. The memories came in waves. Small ones at first. Random images followed by associated memories.
My earliest memories of her were that of a round face with diamonds sparkling in her nose and ears. It was also my first cognizant memory of genetic mirroring. I remember thinking my mom would look like her when she was older. In many ways she was like another mother to my mom. Summer vacations meant idyllic days in their village home being fed by her and my paati. It meant hopping over next door to this great aunt’s home to have access to a covered bathroom and a well-kept home. It meant sticky summer afternoons lying under a heavy fan on teak wood bed frames with a reader’s digest for company. It meant rocking on the wide swing listening to juicy gossip about people I did not know or care about. It meant answering ‘quiz’ questions from Athimber based on current news from the paper.
As I grew, she and Athimber came to represent what I aspired for. A couple in deep harmony with each other. Their life seemed like a well oiled machine. They worked in tandem representing one unit. As the years passed, so did my appreciation for their life together. They epitomized for me fiscal planning, respect for cleanliness, healthy attitude towards food and physical activity and a well set routine.
Today as I look back and reflect on her life and specifically her life as a woman in an era when women were invisible, there are so many things I wish I could have asked her. While I reflect on what she represented for me, I pray that she rests in peace, happy in the knowledge she is with Athimber again.