When it rains, all is well. The aroma of water and grass after a dry spell wafts in the cool air and instantly makes you sigh. You walk out in the garden while the world around bathes under the natural shower. You open your mouth and drink the sweet nectar of heaven. Even the world slows down and pauses to admire the beauty, even if they silently curse the rain from within. All you can do is let your hair down. For Karachi is not known for its frequent rains.
Only when you walk in shivering and wet, do you notice the pakoras waiting for you. There is a slight sizzle to them and their glistening bodies, drowned in oil, lie under the fluorescent light lit above. The scent of mint and yoghurt are ever present because you know that pakoras without chutney are incomplete.
You run to grab a golden jewel before they all finish. Dunked in the chutney you pop the first one in your mouth and relish in the taste. Your eyes close and a dreamy look crosses your face. Then you remember to chew.
The cumin tastes nutty and earthy with a pungent smell, which makes you salivate further. The potato and onion churn around in your mouth and the gram flour accentuates the savory taste. But, there is a familiar zest to it. And you immediately know what it is. Nani. Her hands are magic when it comes to pakoras and you can very well taste her love in them.
Rainy days at your grandmother’s house are treasured memories. The pakoras may be bittersweet but the only missing ingredient is your grandmother and those rainy days that greet in numbers so small. Once in a blue moon.
My grandmother was a woman of purpose. A self-sufficient and independent woman who liked to do things on her own. That is one of the things that i admire most about her. In her dainty, frail hands was strength and courage. The wrinkles that adorned her skin were stories of the past. Stories that had me sitting in awe and begging for more.
It was my grandmother who taught me the art of pressing flowers. Her love for preserving the beauty, in a different more mesmerising form, was transferred to me. Her love for nature became my own and i found life among the flowers, trees and mountains. The grass spoke out to me, whispering sweet nothings. The trees swayed to the song of the wind and i twirled with a sole hibiscus and the breeze in my hair.
Weekly stories of her past, that i begged for her to recall in agonising detail i looked forward to. Her past. The life she lived in a Hogwarts of her own made my mouth hang agape. She would close it, laughing at the possibility that a fly might find its way in. Her laugh, a melody more sweeter than a bird’s song. It still resonates through my ears. Her cold fingers that mine encompassed in warmth.
There was something very prim and proper about her, which unfortunately i did not inherit. Not a single strand of hair out of place. Her saris pressed and ironed to perfection, not a single crease in sight. Her bed made, not a single corned un-tucked that is till it saw the sight of me. She berated my mother about my carelessness and apparent laziness. Yes, my room still remains a mess.
I don’t quite know how i got through that initial phase of disbelief and loss. But i did. I think it had something to do with her. She never left my side, even though she was no longer physically present. She appeared in my dreams, a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Or going about her garden up keeps. But she was there even if she wasn’t.
I’ve written letters ever since I could write. Some page length others just plain drawings and my grandmother was the sole recipient of them all. She kept them all safely, in a brown paper bag I had decorated for her, ironically adorning it with trees. When she passed away I was lost. Having being the first grandchild albeit the only granddaughter, we had shared a strong bond. So, two nights after her burial I found myself in her room. Her smell still lingered on the pillow and I lay my head where hers would have been. I don’t remember how long I lay there, that is until my eyes caught the sight of a brown paper bag, safely kept atop her shelf. I brought it down and carefully opened the bag, afraid that it would disintegrate at the mere touch of my hands. And there before me were the countless letters, drawings and small tokens I had ever given her. This happened to be every Friday. For me going through all the letters, the bad spellings, sloppy handwriting and hilarious drawings, made me realize that I still loved letter writing. It gave me hope, courage and strength that I could not find anywhere else. It helped me overcome my grief and cope with the loss of my grandmother. But in the end it managed to bring me even more close to her.