যখন পড়বে না মোর পায়ের চিহ্ন এই বাটে...
Her hands were all that I could think of. Her beautiful soft hands. Hands which cradled me and put me to sleep when I was a child, hands which held me fiercely tight during my brother's wedding... while walking or climbing stairs and when my mother or an aunt or my new sister-in-law wrapped a terse tasar saree around her waist, because she couldn't wear it herself. I remember how she shoved her pearl and gold nose ring into my hand, the last time I was home, concerned by the fact that my silver nosepin caused infection. I remember how, no matter how weak she felt, stacks of magazines, newspapers never left her bedside. Her sense of humour, the ability to laugh or cry hysterically or even to cuss without a moment's notice...
I was in office, switching phones with my colleagues trying to order burgers from McDonald's. The phone got cut. Twice. So I drank half a litre of water, and decided to suppress my hunger till I find food to stuff my face with. My phone rang, when it was nearing five. My page had to go inside the editor's room. It was my brother's voice. He flatly said, "Grandmother has passed away." I refused to react for sometime. After a second call, I realise she had been dead for a good two and a half hours. My brother had flown down yesterday morning, after a night shift. He had decided to take a quick nap before visiting her at the hospital. But, my forever eager grandma, decided it was best to leave, on her own, dispensing off even her first grandchild, to see her alive, one last time.
And I wish, I knew how to deal with this. Except for crying infrequently, staring at the ceiling and dozing off on my laptop, I haven't really done anything. My mother called and informed me that my grandmother looked pristine as a young bride, decked on her death bed before she was taken for the last rites. She mentioned that my grandfather, came into her room, every few minutes and sobbed silently. My brother messaged me from the ghats, saying that he had to rush to a washroom, in between the rituals, unable to control his tears. Yet, in all these difficult times my whole family is together, while I was miles away, tucked underneath a blanket, left alone to deal with an insurmountable loss.
Maybe one day, she'll visit me in my dreams, and tell me if heaven is worth leaving a grandchild behind, who misses her and demands her back in life. I hope she tells me funny stories from my father and uncle's childhood, and maybe mine too. And sings me a lullaby, or pat on my head till I fall asleep.
On my last visit, she looked at me with a cloudy gaze, while chewing on a mach bhaja. Since she couldn't move to the basin to wash her hands, my aunt got her a mug of water. My grandmother smiled a little, but even when she was weak and groggy, she was awfully confident. Old age, inconsistencies, a weak memory was complemented with a face which never ceased to express itself, which almost beckoned you to fall in love with it.
Mamma, I miss you. I know wherever you go, you'll find a place for yourself but promise me that you'll continue to look out for us. Your foolish grandchildren, who have never thanked you enough, and who continue to need you much more than you have ever needed them.