I had the image fresh in my mind, the mustard saree with deep lavender blouse. I always remember her laughing in that saree. My eyes would move up slowly, capturing the memory of the soft folds at her feet, the silver prints on the mustard letting off a sparkle whenever a drop of light fell on it, the slim silhouette, the lavender blouse starting at her elbow, the loose hair and the laughing eyes.
It was perhaps the colors that captured me. The unusual mustard, teamed with the offbeat lavender. But whatever showed on my face while I perused the saree, used to set her off. She would laugh and laugh till the tears came to her eyes. Maybe that is why she dint wear it as often…She said the laugh lines marred her face…
I would often open her cupboard to see and smell this saree, the soft mustard. I did this many times over the years, when the weight of loneliness overwhelmed me. Then slowly over time I got busy with work .
My daughters were young and could not yet eat my bad cooking. The neighbours were kind. They almost always happen to make too much of everything. Their Chintu will not touch the moti ladoos, the milk and bread pudding was all going to waste, the pulao rice just doubled itself while cooking. The excuses were creative and endless. But perhaps these meals were what kept the girls’ stomachs full.
I remember the day, I walked in on the wafting aroma of hot rotis and fried dhal. I was late from work, some last minute audits had to be pushed through. I found the girls making dinner. After that, the days went by fast.
Then, one day my younger one left home too. Went off to her own family. And the time stopped moving so fast.
One evening, it was raining. The evening had turned dark sooner than usual. I got home from a work-trip . As I opened my door, the smell of rotis and dhal wafted through to me again. I walked in, checking each room, my steps quicker and firmer with the eagerness of my anticipation. And in the bedroom, I saw it; my wife’s favorite saree. It was tied to the ceiling as a baby’s cradle.
The shock was only overtaken by the anger . The indignity meted out to an object as precious as an heirloom ivory idol…the precious of my precious, the fondest memory of my lost love…But the room was empty and so my anger, finding no direction to go, was stalled.
I heard a small sound like a small bird, a little gurgle. I walked forward hesitantly. I saw a tiny and perfectly beautiful round smile. A tiny fist was beating the air. Tiny pink feet were hitting the folds of my mustard silk; the softness of the mustard was overshadowed by the tenderness of that pink foot, the laughing eyes and baby lips. It called out to me as if shaking awake my very soul. A call to wake up and live again. For, inside my wife’s special mustard silk I found my love again; my tiny granddaughter.