My house looked as pretty as picture. The heady fragrance of jasmine and agarbattis lingered in the air, a grand kolam adorned the doorsteps of my house, the mango leaves thoranam hung at the entrance, the sundal was steamed and the kozhakatais were half made. All this in the run up to my favorite festival - vinayaka chaturthi.
I stepped into the house and stepped back out again. I thought to myself, "I cannot do this...". I gulped, wiped the tears off my swollen face and braced myself for what was about to hit me. With clenched teeth and tight fists, I opened the door. I could not see her, a sea of people stood around her. As I made my entry, whispers passed around the crowd. They made way for the eldest grand-daughter. There she was, lying in a crisp white saree, feet tied and eyes half shut. As I let the scene consume me, images of my childhood swirled in my head - the stories she told me, the games we played, the food she cooked, the pranks she caught...
Thank god for the vaadhiyaar who was reciting his chants ever so loudly! It helped drown out all the conversations and crying and noise in the background. The numbness was much needed. I mindlessly performed the ceremonies till a point where I had to anoint her forehead. I stopped for a second to look at her. "Her every wrinkle has a story", I thought, again losing myself in a train of thoughts. As I touched her forehead, I did so a tad bit hard in the inane hope that she would wake up, only to instantly chide myself for my selfishness.
As the men lifted her body off for the final rites, a strange sense of calm enveloped me. What made the whole thing so poignant was the fact that had she lived another day, she would have turned ninety. But again, what's in a number for a woman who lived this far, single-handedly raising generations ?
Ironically, I had looked up an app called White Noise that day. I was curious; the word took me back to all the digital signal processing and vector transformation classes of my engineering days. Apparently, it is an app that has ambient sounds that help people relax or sleep better. Well, all I know is that it was time for her to sleep... Sleep well Aachi, sleep well.