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I Miss You…

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By Ratna Manucha

I miss coming to your room just before going out …

I miss you saying, ‘Don’t you have a chunni with that?’(Which in polite terms meant, ‘Go and change’) or ‘When did you buy this?’ or ‘This looks nice!’

I miss you saying, ‘Why aren’t you wearing lipstick?’ or ‘Your lipstick is not matching, let me give you mine’.

I miss the fact that you always knew which shade of lipstick I should wear and that I never bothered with it myself all these years because I knew you would always bail me out. Just so you know, I am always going to go out with mismatched lipstick. Just in case you decide to bail me out, again. Hope springs eternal…

I miss the way you stood outside in the winter sun to dry your hair. It’s the onset of winter now…

I miss how impeccably you were always dressed, with lipstick firmly in place. How regal you looked. (Incidentally, that’s what they said in the hospital too). One could never catch you in a rumpled state.

I miss waiting for the click of the bathroom door which signaled to me that you were now ready for evening tea. Making evening tea was always your ‘thing’ and how I waited for it.

I miss how you stood in front of your mirror every evening to comb your hair and put on your lipstick before you entered the kitchen to make tea.

I miss looking for different varieties of biscuits for your tea-time snack.

I miss hearing the swish of your bedroom curtains the first thing when you woke up in the morning. That was my alarm to get out of bed too.

I miss getting you organic eggs (how you loved your boiled egg at breakfast!) even if it meant going out especially to get them and then waiting for the look of approval on your face…

I miss calling out to you to come for dinner repeatedly, because you were too engrossed in your knitting pattern and wanted to finish the row before you got up.

I miss losing my patience with you…

I miss those tea time conversations when you filled me in on the latest family gossip, which you gathered over the phone from my aunt.

I miss you saying, ‘What’s the rush?’ each time I asked you why you hadn’t done something which you said you would. Why couldn’t you say that to the Grim Reaper when he came for you that morning?

What was the rush?

I miss asking you what you wanted from the shops each time I went out…

I miss going to your room and asking you to come and sit with me to watch a particular show on Netflix…

I miss how you would walk in, stand around for a bit and then nonchalantly walk out saying, ‘Useless programme’ and then proceed to watch the ‘aunty serials’ on TV in your own room, all the while doing your knitting…

I miss watching you pore over your knitting patterns each time you had to start a new sweater…and then discussing with me which pattern would suit which member of the family.

I miss you discussing the colours of wool with me…

I miss coming to you to unravel my knitting and pick up the stitches each time I bungled up, which was fairly often, and your remark, ‘What have you done?’ (Oh, how you must be laughing, watching me struggle with the unfinished sweater you left behind. Did you do that on purpose, Ma?)

I miss you asking me to give you a book to read…

I miss ordering the latest bestsellers for you on Amazon…

I miss giving you all my new books to read first…

I miss you sitting outside in your favourite chair in the verandah, either knitting or reading…

I miss you waiting for the Reader’s Digest on a particular date every month…and then coming to tell me if it hadn’t come…so that I could send them a mail. (You would never ask…it was always understood that if something hadn’t been done, I was supposed to sort it out.)

I miss how you would be so possessive about the latest issue of Reader’s Digest. If I took it to read, I would have to return it at night or you would walk into my bedroom asking for it. Just so you know, the last two issues are lying unopened in your cupboard.

I miss how diligently you would write a cheque for ‘Foot and Mouth’ artists each year and then get super excited when you received their calendar and other sundry stationery items in the post.

I miss you scouting around the lemon tree and triumphantly holding up the greenish yellow lemons that you had plucked, telling anyone who cared to listen that this is what lemons should look like when they are ready to be plucked… (Because according to you, we never knew when to pluck them. We either plucked them too early or too late). The lemon tree has begun to flower now…

I miss you walking around the garden with your gardening shears looking for a flower to put in the vase next to my father’s photograph…

I miss asking you to iron my clothes if I had to go out suddenly…and then you saying, ‘Don’t you have anything else to wear?’ or ‘This is nice. When did you get this?’ (You must be having the last laugh now, watching me struggle with the iron.)

I miss helping you select your footwear and clothes and then when someone expressed appreciation, you triumphantly saying that you had selected it, while I simmered silently…

I miss buying an extra block of Amul butter each time because I knew how much you loved butter and I never wanted the house to run out of butter. Ever.

I miss your cool hand on my forehead to check if I had fever or not…

I miss coming back from an event and telling you all about whom I met, what we talked about and what they wore…

I miss giving you ‘The Week’ to read every Friday…

I miss watching out for you every evening as you walked about in your new walking shoes, my heart in my mouth just in case you tripped, and then heaving a sigh of relief when you finally entered your room…

I miss having you to be the first one to read when I finish my piece of writing and again, being the first one to read when it was printed…

I miss the fact that ‘Hmmm’ meant I needed to improve upon my work and the half giggle and ‘Nice’ meant I could mail it off…

I miss not having you to read this piece that I wrote.

I always wondered what my life would be without you in it, Mummy. That was my biggest fear.

Now I know.

(Ratna Manucha is an award-winning author of fact, fiction and text books for children and young adults.)