Dear Nani

Dear Nani,

I’ve tried writing a thousand letters I wish you could read, but here’s one more. Do you remember how every year in the few weeks of summer between April and May, I came to visit you? I used to sit with my head on your lap while you stroked my hair. Paradise. I knew ever since I heard this word at school that your home was the definition of it.  I remember dancing with joy on the way to the house, constantly asking Mumma when we would arrive so that I could finally embrace the sweet scent of rose and saffron.

But summer never seemed as lonely as it does now. I used to walk down the road past the huge yellow and black gates, with a smiling sun on top of it, to come face to face with our energized dog pouncing on my leg, overjoyed to lick me, sniff my clothes, and wag his tail vigorously.

But today he just walked past me rubbing himself against my leg trying to get some warmth in the cold atmosphere around. I grabbed his leash and started walking him down the same path as I have done, so many times, year after year. But despite my desperate attempts at trying to achieve some normalcy, I failed.

I saw the garden pots, behind which I used to lead my younger brothers as their captain, and where we would play together for hours, but now, the once vibrant flowers wilt into their faded pots for they feel lost, just like me. They perhaps were also waiting for you to come and smile at them, just like me. 

The kitchen which was always filled with a cacophony of laughter and instructions being tossed about, with most out-worldly Mithai being cooked by you for me, lies wasted today, unused and silent, as though it is begging for spring to arrive. I feel scared to even take a step towards it.

I remember every turn on the narrow roads of the small neighbourhood market, where I used to be very excited, with the thrill of going out shopping with you. But today I walked the same twisted roads with every step becoming heavier and heavier till I could not walk anymore. 

People in the market were shouting, haggling and it was full of action but all I could feel was the deathly silence inside me. I was sure now that I had lost my safe sanctuary. I overheard someone saying that nothing about this place has changed, yet for me everything has.

At least the sun always climbed in through the bedroom windows like it did every morning before, but instead of meeting a grumpy and sleepy face, reluctant to get up, today it just greeted my sleep-deprived, tired eyes that had spent the night without a break. These days all I crave is to hear your voice say “Good morning, Meri Gudiya!” with your infectious laugh.

The Myna bird on the Peepal tree in the garden sings every day like it used to sing before, but I can’t help but feel how the once beautiful song I was inspired by, now sounds like an ode to a loved one. You. Even the bird has realized that nothing can bring you back, something I haven’t been able to grasp.

I regret so much; I regret not screaming and crying to Mumma so that we could stay for just a few more days. I should have grasped harder onto your hands. For I didn’t know Paradise would change forever. 

I regret breaking the promise I made to myself the most, going into your room, full of our memories together. With a herculean effort,  I twisted the cold handle of your bedroom door today. The air in the room doesn’t smell like you, rose and saffron, anymore, but the freshly painted room smells like chemicals. 

It’s not a bad smell, it’s just unfamiliar and empty. I turned to leave but I saw the spot you used to sit on and tell me stories about absurd characters and brave princesses with little girls that saved the world. The same chair stood empty and unoccupied, but my eyes saw flashes of you and me there today.

I think of what all has changed today, but one thing I’m sure of is that without you this house isn’t paradise anymore. 

The memory of the night that broke me plays in a loop in my head, constantly. It was raining that night. The moment I heard that you were no more, I fell to the ground next to the shattered pieces of glass which resembled my heart. I couldn’t feel my bones anymore, I couldn’t hear my heart. Of course, why would I? It lay cracked and with its pieces scattered. I felt powerless.

I remember nothing of the days that passed after, no recollections of the hands that wiped my tears or the arms that were wrapped around my shoulder. Nothing but the rain that continued to fall. Perhaps I saw myself as the little droplet that fell to the ground with nowhere to go but down.

I saw the rain again today, that’s how I was reminded of that night. It continued to fall relentlessly like every time. But the sun that came after just shined even brighter and stronger than the rain. Perhaps I never saw the sun properly but when I looked at the sun today, I found myself wanting the be like that, more like you, stronger. 

I can feel my bones again now. I can feel my heart pull its pieces into place. I don’t feel powerless anymore. 

Now I believe that perhaps healing is just looking at something broken with a want to fix it.

When I look at this broken paradise, I see a shrine of memories and today I make a promise that I intend to keep. 

A promise to build up the walls stronger, paint them with my memories of you and clear the dark clouds hovering over it to finally let the sun heal my Paradise. 

Forever and always yours,

Your Gudiya

Ananya is an avid reader and passionate writer. She regards writing as her true way of expressing feelings and uses her words to convey all her thoughts. She hopes to become a better writer every day and is open to learning!