My mum misses the house she grew up in.
It has been almost ten years since we went there.
My grandpa passed and my grandma was too frail to live there all by herself, so my uncle and my mum decided it would be best to just lock up the house and coax granny to live with one of them.
But on quiet evenings when the silence is comforting and the coffee tastes just right she reminisces about those days when the brooding old house was alive with life and laughter.
She misses the winding staircase, the long veranda, the breathtaking view of the City of Joy from the terrace.
She misses the cacophony of the afternoon traffic, the sound of the hammer beating in the blacksmith’s shop just around the corner.
She misses the smell of the delicious samosas my granny used to make in the evenings and the freshness of the morning when she went jogging with grandpa.
She misses the jolly Punjabi family who lived downstairs, their daily squabbles floating up with the air and she misses the next door neighbours who named their daughter Piku.
She misses the smell of the pages of the book she loved to read curling up in front of the east-facing window. She misses those letters tied in a bunch and forgotten in the corner of a dusty drawer…
Her voice takes a haunting, wistful quality when she describes the memories of her childhood, and I, I find it difficult to breathe.
I grew up in a joint family. Lots of uncles, aunts, cousins…
And I envy her because the house I grew up in, the family I called my own, although still intact, are in reality broken.
Now it’s just us, mum, dad, my sister and I.
So the last time she felt sad about that house she left behind, I said in a quiet voice,
“At least your memory is untouched and perfect, saturated with longing, yes, but untainted by the greed and jealousy that ruins mine”
She hugged me.
And I realised in that moment that it wasn’t she who needed comforting but I who craved it.
As if in answer to my unspoken thoughts her arms squeezed lightly around me… and all was right in the world again.