Her mother’s voice sounded fragile. She felt a numbness descend, her icy cold fingers around the steering wheel. The pressure her fingers exerted on it increased exponentially and yet no memory pattern was forming. How would it? Her mind had already regressed several years in the span of a second to a place where she always took up residence rent-free without any protocol. A place that always gave her structure and held the promise of solidarity, housed laughter and spoke of undemanding love, gentle and sublime. Her grandmother. Gone. Past tense.
She closed her eyes and leaned back. Her eyelids felt heavy, all sounds sucked into a newborn vacuum. She felt herself slowly sink into an abyss, a weight growing where her heart resided, voicing a truth that one only acknowledged in such moments of absolute loss. Nothing in life mattered anymore.
“Beta… have to go….Things to do…”
Her mother’s voice broke through the haze
She felt herself nod, then realized her mother couldn’t see her. She tried to speak, moving her lips but nothing formed into words. She tried to remember how. It wouldn’t come to her. The line disconnected and she felt something rise up. Fast and thick. Her eyelids, tongue and lips seemed to be closing in, swallowing her whole, wiping out her existence.
She was jolted out of her catatonic state by a piercing scream, her heart seizing at its sheer pitch. With some shock, she realized the tormented screaming came from her. She felt herself shiver uncontrollably, with fingers trembling as life shattered through, bringing her back to earth. She finally heard herself sob frantically as she hit redial, connecting to her mother. Her mother answered almost immediately .
“Mom… in my old drawer….” She shivered through chattering teeth “ There is a shawl….yes, bottom drawer. Please- can you give her that… “
She hung up and finally wailed.
The shawl- a loving gift- when she set off to America. Her grandmother had asked her to wrap herself in it once the flight took off
“ Their blankets are no good, leaves you cold”
For many years, she covered her pillow with it, the familiar warmth ironing out her daily ravages.
It was her cairn in a land where no man and no inch of land felt like her own. A cairn that she held on to, as it enveloped her in an inviting intimacy like the flash from a firefly. She lost count of the nights when it wiped her tears and let her fears soak in. Her grandmother’s soothing hand, she called it.
She had forgotten it behind on her last visit home. And just like that, destiny beckoned
Her beloved cairn had to travel to lands afar once again, she thought as she watched from her distance, the video where her mother wrapped the shawl gently over the matriarch
“Travel well Aji… stay warm… until we meet again in our own land….. “
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