It was a clear day and I had just come back from school. The house was generally silent. My grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer a few months back and her sister-in-law was with her. I sat on the swing outside and started to think about the times when she would always be there in the evenings when we got back home from school with some tasty snack or the other. She would hum songs as she braided my hair. She could never pronounce the letter “f” and we would make her say “fifty-five” over and over again.
Suddenly, I could hear my aunt crying out to my mother. Everyone ran inside. Paati was sleeping. But her stomach didn’t go up and down anymore. Everyone was wailing.
I could not stand the sight of Paati lying there like that. A sari had been thrown over her nightdress. There were people sitting all around her rocking back and forth. I wanted to run to a corner and claw at the walls that were confining me to this space. I also wanted to shake her awake and tell her that I wanted her to be there with me. But I couldn’t move. All I could do was to stand there and stare at her sleeping. She would never wake up.
It has been 7 years now. I have not changed. But there is always an empty space. I don’t miss her as much as I used to. I think of her and wish things had been different. I’ve moved on. I think.