There is a page in the newspaper which contains information about people who have passed away before a day or two. I never feel sorry for them, I just read the names thoroughly, stare at their faces for half a minute, and then jump on to the next page.
But when your name appeared, I stared at it for more than a minute. Even though there was no picture, I was staring at your name and suddenly tears came rolling down my face. Not because I wasn’t knowing about it earlier, but because a sudden feeling took over my whole body. Your face came across my mind, your voice echoed, and every thought about you popped up in my little mind. I had already cried many times in those two days. The very first time when early in the morning mama told me about you. The second time when I saw you lying dead in nani-haal. The third time when Dr Mamu showed me your video of drinking kehwa. There is fourth, fifth and sixth time when I cried, thinking of you. As it was the first time someone so close to me went far away from me, without a goodbye; it hurts. I regret spending most of the time with TV and other stuff rather than sitting with you in nani-haal. I won’t be able to see your face now. I won’t be able to hear your voice now. I won’t be able to touch your wrinkles and hold your hands now. But a piece of you is buried in me, forever. I might not be able to see your face next to my eyes, but I have the whole you, with your voice captured in the cage of my mind.
I remember your big beautiful hands, how I used to paint your nails with nail paint when I was seven. How you used to force me to eat more while my mouth was already full. How you used to spend almost one hour every time you entered the washroom and the way you used to crawl back from the washroom to the kitchen like an adorable child. Your Barbie face with thin white hair and deep ocean eyes. Your shivering hand, and those pretty rings you wore. Your white pheran, the black scarf you loved to wear and your light blue handkerchief to wipe away your tears. How and where you used to sit, your positions, your expressions, and the way you used to sleep on the pillow. How you used to scold mama for raising her voice over me. How you used to fake cry in front of me, and making my eyes watery. In summers your skin used to glow, your wrinkles looked gorgeous.Your oiled hair used to sparkle in sunlight, as if diamonds were placed on each strand of your white hair. Your eyes used to shine every time you stepped out of house, as if jewels were put inside them. And how can I forget your long, slim legs and a very good height, just like TV models. You were beautiful. In my childhood I hated the fact that we had to always turn off fans in hot summers as you hated cool waves. And one day, when I asked you angrily about it, you again fake cried and told me that it hurt your eyes when the cool air gets in touch with them. From then onwards, I used to make sure that the fan is off in the room. And I used to ask baji several times about you, your eyes, your health. And she used to get jealous every time I was concerned about you, she was the one who informed me that you never actually cried in front of me, you faked it. Everything you said about no one loving or caring for you, not giving you food to eat, not giving you clean clothes to wear, in nani-haal was a lie. Baji told me that it used to make you happy, seeing me caring for you. Even when I knew the truth I still used to sit near you for listening all the complaints you had with everyone. And then we both used to fake cry, holding each other’s hands. Just after we used to stop fake crying, you used to put out your light blue handkerchief from your pocket to wipe out your tears, even though your eyes were dry. And then I used to laugh. In winters, we used to sit under the same blanket and you always warmed my cold hands and feet with the kangri, and sometimes I felt asleep on your shoulders because of the warmth you gave me. You were my favourite. Whenever I visited nani-haal, you always were the first one to give me hugs and kisses, and I was always hurrying, that at times I never hugged you back. I used to ignore you, roaming up and down with my phone. I wish I talked more with you. I remember all your stories, everything you said about your childhood, your marriage and those fairytales I adored the most. My favourite part of our conversation was you giving me money in between of your story, and me stopping you, as I had to go out for buying choco-sticks. After buying them, I again used to sit with you, for listening the end part of the fairytale. There were times, when I put the money directly in my pocket instead of spending them, as mama used to get very angry, and she always warned me from eating choco-sticks. So, I have some of the money you gave me, locked in my piggy bank. And I have all the memories you gave me, locked in my heart. I have the picture of your face and your voice embedded in the walls of my mind. I have already clicked so many photos and videos of you, with my eyes which won’t ever get deleted.
Since childhood mama always told me that you are her mother, and not baji. But when I used to ask baji, she would tell me that mama is my daughter and when I asked you, you told the same words. I used to get confused. When I asked maasi about her mother she also gave your name, and then I again asked baji she used to laugh and say that you and baji are sharing. And Dr Mamu and Bada Mamu are also your own children. And I again used to get very confused as you were old, and baji also loved all four of them with her whole heart, same as you. And then, one day mama told me that you had no child. Baji was your husband’s younger brother’s wife. So you always treated baji, as a younger sister and her children as your own. You loved them so much that they actually loved you more than their own mother, and I also thought you of my real nani and loved you more than anything. Mama loved you too, everyone did.
Grand parents are those blessings, that we only realise after they are gone far away from us. We never ask them about how they spent their day, what they did the whole time we were in school, why were they feeling ill,did they took their medicines, why do they love us so much, why did they stopped talking with our parents for 2 days just because our mama/baba scolded us, we never ask why. And when they leave us, we start asking these questions to ourself, but we are always doubtful for the answers.
That day if I knew it would be the last time I was seeing you, I would have asked all these questions. I would have talked more, hEld your hand for a longer period, kissed your forehead and would have said a proper goodbye.
I miss you AMMA and I love you. I always have, and I always will.
Now, every time I read the newspaper I skip that one page because it reminds me of you.
Azmat is a 10th grade student from Presentation Convent School, Srinagar.