My mother is beautiful. I saw her when I went home in the winter and she looked radiant; the cold weather makes her happy. She likes to stand on the verandah outside her room when there is a nip in the air. Her gray hair, soft and short and wavy, frames her face steadily and doesn’t let the wind play with it.

A year and a half ago, on Diwali, she and I sat on the rattan chairs on her verandah and watched the firecrackers. Her hair was an insipid brown then, the auburn of the dye fading from the listless strands. The sky would light up occasionally when a whistling cracker would burst into acid green streaks high in the cloudless night. Her hair seemed tired of holding on to her scalp, willing the follicles to release them from attachment. She was quiet then. Her mind elsewhere, thinking hopeless thoughts. I only wanted to sit by her and watch the colours reflect off her face, her arms, her hair.

I’ll be home soon, in time for the monsoon. Maybe we will sit together on the verandah under a mottled sky to witness the grey clouds spreading across it. And I will watch her beautiful face in that fading light till the rain starts falling and sends us in.

© Ayesha Sindhu 2013


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