Forty-one

Afternoons are a memory. The searing sunlight all over the yard and above makes me remember of several houses I have been at this time of the day.
How my granny, mom’s mom, would sit on her wooden bench in the hallroom, her aging eyes in quest for us on the days we would have her informed of our arrival. It would be on one of these afternoons. And when buses passing by would come to a stop at her gate, she’d lift her head a little from where she sat in the front room to check if it was one of her children/grandchildren. And when we’d sit on her wooden bench with her by our side, she’d point her eyes at people walking by and tell us breaking stories. Or she’d have something to say about the immigrant families living in rooms attached to the old post office above and opposite our house. It was the post office where my mom in her girlhood would go to watch movies at after her daily chores. Dressed in long skirt and silk blouse, she’d clatter open the gate, cross the not so wide road and climb up the small mound to the post office. Because they wouldn’t have a Tv down home, the village folks would sit with their asses packed and enjoy the black and white Kannada movies.
Decades later, after my mom, her sisters and brothers were married and after we were born, as traits would have it, we’d also go up there, play hide and seek and ludo with the native kids in the evening once the post office was shut. Having a blurry image of the post master, he’d sit in his cabin, covered with a wooden plank except for a small niche at the bottom. He, his stuffs behind his chair would be seen from the iron grids that seperated his space from that of ours. He’d lay his eyes on us by lowering his head and raising the thick eyebrows from behind his glasses.
During granny’s last of the days, I’d go to visit her whenever I was free. She’d no longer wear her low cotton Sarees but was made to wear nighty. Her hairs chopped off. She was no longer familiar to the walls of her murky room, her wooden caught. More over, she was no longer familiar to her own children and grandchildren.
She’d look at me, her big eyes staring when I leaned close to hold her. And I knew where I got my big eyes from. I’d call her out loud ‘dodda’ and she’d respond with ‘Ooo’ exactly like the way she used to when she was able to walk. Now she always cries. Once when I heard her begin crying, I went to her and hugged her tight. I could feel her damp skin. I wouldn’t take my head off her chest because once I did she’d start crying again. ‘Why do you cry Dodda. What happened’ I asked her without moving. She’d just stare at anything with her eyes and mouth open. She was a baby all over again.
A year later she passed away and I wept.

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