I remember her first as a bride, milk white next to my rather dark chitappa. I was in fourth grade then. The competition was fierce to vie for her affections amidst a brood of siblings and cousins. Snatches of images crowd my brain. Her in a six yards saree when my mom and other chithi were in nine yards. Giggling and playing the truant daughter in law. Her love for samosas with spicy raw onion chutney, the kind you only get in a certain Tirunalveli Halwa stall in the dusty suburbs of Madras. Her fine straight hair loaded with strings of pearly white jasmine. Yes. She loved flowers. She did.
I remember her love for Lux soap and Gokul Santol powder. Her eyes round and kohl lined, sparking at the mention of sarees or jewelry. I remember landing at their doorstep in a trip not in the distant past, walking into a kitchen bustling with action. Shelves lined with pictures of us, the kids of the family. I remember her love for life.
I remember standing in a hospital corridor two years back leaning against a parapet wall, looking across to the building that housed the ICU where her husband, my chitappa lay battling for life. We shared a deep conversation at that time talking about life, marriage, infertility, childlessness. All things profound and totally unlike her. I watched as a tear escaped her stoic countenance.
The memories come rushing, tears escape my eyes, finally giving into the shock of knowing she passed away this evening. Just like that. A young life escaping into the cosmos leaving behind grieving hearts and shocked shells.
Rest in peace Chithi. You will always be remembered with fondness and love.