I never thought going home would be so difficult. Forget difficult, I had no idea it would matter so much, would have such an impact on me. When the airplane touched down in Karachi, I instinctively dialled Mom’s number. It was out of habit. I cancelled the call half way and quickly dialled Dad’s instead.
The flashback of memories is unreal, almost eerie, as we (the kids and me) walk inside the gate. D8 is still the same – the tangy smell from the boughs that hang low from the leafy tamarind tree makes me nostalgic and I breathe deeply. The dated garden furniture greets me like an old friend as I walk past the porch to enter the lovely, grand, yet unkempt house.
There has never been a time when I have walked inside D8 and not run into my Mother’s room to embrace her. It dawns on me: this is the first time I have flown in from Dubai and will not be meeting her. Suddenly I’m scared – scared of facing the house – scared of bursting into tears. I walk into her room, head bowed as my eyes scan the room where her surgical bed was, where she lay serenely, with patience and forbearance, smiling and praising the Lord when anyone asked how she was doing. For a woman who was terminally ill and was in a lot of pain at every given moment, I thought it was pretty special – the way she always found the inner strength to say ‘Alhamdulillah’ and sound as though she meant it.
There is nothing where the bed once was, and I can’t find her anywhere. But of course – what did I expect? A sign perhaps? An indication that she’d known I’d come for her, a warm feeling that told me she knew how much I love and miss her. I didn’t expect the emptiness to hit me this hard – or the pin-drop silence inside the room to hurt my ears so severely. I had no idea I’d want to run away from D8 because the memories were everywhere.
Like snowflakes falling from the sky covering everything with a bed of snow, her memories have formed a sort of invisible layer over the entire house, and everywhere I look, I imagine her, sometimes I think I see her, but she’s nowhere to be found really, except in my head. I want to talk to her, thank her, hug her.
My mind automatically expects to see her when I visit home, and the fact that I can’t see the welcoming look in her eyes anymore, or feel her hands or her feet makes the pain of having lost her fresh again, and the eight months that have passed since she breathed her last cease to matter.
Time is a healer, certainly is, but not if you’re visiting D8. Oh God, please, I just want to run away. I plaster a smile upon my lips – a tad too bright and I am too chirpy. I hope no one will notice. I need out.
(A couple of links in the post above are articles I wrote about her)