Wednesday, 23 March 2011

One day in March.

The sky  was still blue, as blue as polluted Bangalore skies go. The leaves were still perfect in their intricacy and their symmetry. Almost everything stayed the same. Almost nothing changed.

But I've been hearing ambulance sirens since, and am surprised to find that my heart no longer races, my fear and dread no longer rise up to choke me like they used to.

Later that evening, I watered the neglected garden and noticed that a little brown butterfly with lemon-yellow markings lay dead at the foot of the lime tree my father and I planted on my birthday two years ago.

Things we have in common:
artistic talent
like to plant trees
like birds
know how to make tomato jam
the same eyes
the same feet
slow to show anger
tend to think the best of other people
find it hard to say 'I love you'

The butterfly was dead and I ran the hose over it, bathing it like they bathed Daddy yesterday. This morning when I brushed my teeth there was only the faintest whiff of camphor and herbs left to remind me.

Things we did together:
walk down to the riverbank to brush our teeth when I was little
paint eggs
make gulab jamuns
do the crossword
agonise over paperwork
go for walks
go to the bank
fix things
roll our eyes at each other when Mummy got melodramatic

The man from the mosque came back later to clean the bathroom. He did a terrible job so I grabbed the Lysol, rolled up my salwar and helped him clean it a second time. I like cleaning so much that for a while I could forget that just a few hours earlier, they had been bathing my father's body just there; the wooden bier had lain on the cream tiles that my bare feet were on now.

It is now three days since I tried to warm his cold swollen feet, and then held his clammy hand while they switched off the machine. And the sky is still as blue as it gets.

Dr Abdul Razak Tonse
1 December 1926 - 21 March 2011

Bye, Daddy.