I step into the house that is the “once upon a time” for all my childhood adventures. I see your red rooster proudly walking in the verandah. Every now and then, it goes to the door overlooking the sitting area and expectantly peeks inside before turning away. A little disappointed.
I enter the sitting area through the dimly lit passage. Our childhood faces gaze back at me from the walls, reminding me of what a long, long way your grandchildren have come; of how my eyes hold a few autumns and the smile is not that of a child’s who is gloating over her recent mischief.
So I enter the sitting area and my eyes automatically go to the sofa that had been your throne. Do you know what I see? I see you smiling fondly at me, your arms open, calling out to me. I rush towards you. But you’re not there. You’re not there anymore.
The ludo game sits untouched. Remember the times we’d all gather around you to play ludo, promises of chips and juices inviting us to speed up the game as your watchful eyes kept track of every unfair move we made? And those cricket matches that we’d all enthusiastically watch – cheering, shouting, eating – and you, disappointed at Inzimam’s performance, would make no effort to hide that disappointment. And the innocent way your eyes danced when they saw your favourite food. And how you’d look at me proudly as I followed your recipes and you’d tell me that I cook as well as you do? There’s no one to pamper me like that anymore. I hear your “shukriya” – the ones you’d say every time we did the smallest of things for you – coming from my lips as I now thank people.
I miss that.
I miss you.
I walk into your room, I sit on your bed. It’s so quiet in here. It’s peaceful. This – the memory of your fragrance, the memory of your hug, the memory of your *duas, the memory of your love, the memory of those sparkling eyes telling me that I’m not alone – is the only home I have now. You were home, the home that understood the difference between what it saw and how I felt. And now I feel stranded on an island, millions of kilometres away from where I should be. I will board the boat again but not now. Not now.
For all these months, you were the home that kept me safe and happy. You helped me fly with peace, you taught me how beautiful is the love that gently springs from struggling hearts, how kindness and empathy make you feel God, how patience is so much more than just watching – feeling – the seconds tick by, how there’s more to a garden of flowers than just some colourful petals and dancing dewdrops.
In a parallel universe, the mountains have already flown, the moon has lovingly shared its light with the sun, the neutrons are already charged with love and only love, and the night is alive with the poems of those who have lost this world to win the universe.
Thank you for being the centre of my universe for all these months. Thank you for that unconditional, selfless love. Thank you – again – for being the Rumi to my Shams. Thank you for showing me the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for holding my hand when I asked you if dua is the only way out.
Thank you for receiving these letters; who else will I write for?
I miss you.