“Chhonee Om. You came? ”
“Yes Angay” I said sitting down on the edge of her bed catching up with my breath.
It was a 30 minutes walk from the main road to where she lived. And it was such a bore to walk through endless maze of fields when you had nothing to carry forward but your lonesome self.
She sought to sit up. I quickly reached out to help balance her frail body. I felt bad that I had woken her up from her nap. She needed rest as much as I needed studying.
“Chhonee Om I am glad you came” She said to me over and again. I looked at her calm face, a smile appearing automatically on my lips.
“I have missed you so much, Angay.” I told her, happiness bubbling up my throat. It felt so good to be finally be in her presence. I took her hands which stood idle on her lap. I brought them close. They were so warm.
“You have grown to be a beautiful lady.” She commented brushing her grandmotherly fingers gently on my cheeks. I turned red in the face.
I rejoiced every single scrap of joy laid before me, drinking in the contentment, living through the moment; making memories. I sniffed her closely. Nothing had changed. She smelled the same smell. The way she did all the way back to those days I could faintly remember. It felt as if it was just yesterday that I last held her hand. Or was it last year? I couldn’t tell.
“Chhonee Om ” I heard a soft whisper.
“Hmm..” I hmmmed unable to tear my gaze from the past I loved much.
“La angay. “I answered after a pause.
I turned around slowly wondering why nobody said anything more. I saw my cousin and few other strangers whose blank face stared back at me, their eyes reflecting the same question that echoed in everybodys mind.
Have I lost my sanity?
“Chhonee….why aren’t you lighting those butterlamps?” Lhaki, my cousin whispered, poking the small of my back with her nails which almost pierced into my skin when I stood there unmoving; frozen to the ground. Lost in thoughts.
Ouch. It was painful.
“Yes….I…oh… okay. ” I said barely audible even to my own ears.
I covered my mouth and started lighting the butterlamps muttering silent prayers for the granny I loved. As tears dripped down the cheeks, I quickly wiped away the moisture with the back of my sleeve.
“Chhonee did I hurt-” Yangki started to say guilt coloring her voice but I shook my head vigorously. I glanced at Angay’s potrait which was hanging on the wall opposite to me. She was smiling; all pain and hurt long forgotten. She was at peace.
As I walked down the road, I didn’t feel lonely anymore.
I simply felt beautiful.