Creating More New Memories

A little later than promised, but here they are…

III. The Klassy Kaka

Okay, first of all, before anyone starts applying their own interpretations, Kaka is a Gujarati word (synonymous with Chacha) which means ‘uncle’.  So who is he?  The local chemist!!! 🙂  I met him the other day when my sister went hunting for all kinds of ammo against the murderous mosquitoes that buzz and bite with no sympathy in these parts.  Apparently, since I’m ‘new blood’, they’re homing in on me.  That means burning those funny smelling…sorry, scented coils, having a mosquito-repellent thingy AND using half a bottle of insect spray in my room. Every night.  I’d be swathed in a net too if I’d let her.

So we went to the chemist downstairs to get the necessary and who do we meet but the sweetest old man ever!  He’s tiny, fragile almost, with huge glasses, a gentle look in his eyes, balding, has a BIG smile and speaks with a laugh in his voice.  He actually spent time discussing how the little buggers just wouldn’t die these days no matter what you hit them with! 😀  Well, except if you hit them with a nice flat piece of cardboard – on either side.  Then they go satisfyingly ‘squish’. 

I call him klassy because he’s definitely sharp ,  running that shop and knowing all the meds and keeping track of the money, but he seemed just happy to be alive and doing what he was.  And I should think it’s impossible to walk out of the little apothecary  – it suits him to call it that – without a backward wave and a smile on your face.

IV. What Does Her Heart Hide?

One thing I’ve noticed since coming here is the number of old people around.  It gives this place a homey feel.  Children make me joyful, but old people fascinate me.  We look at them as individuals who are finishing their journey, with no more to give to the world today because their time has passed.  But they hold a wealth of information and wisdom that only that amount of experience can bring.  Plus they make you feel like a child again no matter how old you are.

We have plenty relatives here that I haven’t met before.  One of them is a grandmother of sorts. When we went visiting (the old-fashioned way, with a box of biscuits!), I couldn’t help but be reminded of the elegance that some women seem to possess as a birthright.  She’s in her 80’s, but she holds herself with the grace of a 20-year old.  It made me proud to be female and more so to be Muslim.  Because every thing she said was laced with this deep belief embedded within her.  Her gratitude for the past, her appreciation of the present and her hopes for the future, all related to her faith in some way.

I’ve been spending the recent past thinking a lot about the things that I have left behind and those that it seems inevitable I will leave behind.  As I watched her talk, I wondered what things she had left in her past and if they ever haunted her.  Does anyone think to ask that?  We often hear of the hardships our grandparents suffered, of the experiences they had, of the happiness in their lives.  But who ever tells us of the sorrows buried deep within?  Who looks for the ‘if only’s and the ‘I wish’s?

Often I think I have reached a point in life where I’m content.  Or as content as I can be.  It seems to me that everything is fine, if not perfect, just the way it is and I can go on this way for as long as I have to.  But is that really true?  If it was, why would this whisper of wishes murmur in my ear in that moment of silence just before I fall asleep?  Or brush against my hair when the wind blows? Or fall gently on my face when I stand in the path of a shower of sea spray?  This whisper that says: “Close your eyes and reach out just a little, you will find what your fingers seek…”  But time and time again, my hand has grasped nothing but thin air.

I want to grow old with elegance like the grandmother we visited.  I want to one day have the aura she had.  Are the empty pockets essential for that?  That shade of sadness that is not quite there.  And not quite not either.   If I could figure out how true that statement was, I would reach out more often and embrace (w)hole heartedly the feeling that comes from realising that once again, something is missing by my side.

bint Ali


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