“It was yesterday, I think.” she mumbles while pouring the tea as I replace the flowers in the vase. These days it takes all her concentration to keep her hands steady. She sets the cup in front of me. The pockmarks on her forearms now form constellations.
“Yes, I am sure“, she nods as if she has come to an agreement with her memory, “I was waiting right here in this chair, looking out of this window, waiting for Danny to come home after school. There is no better spot in this house, really. It is nice and sunny here all day long. I often sit here and paint the Magnolias from the garden when he is away.” The aroma of Jasmine tea wafts towards me.
“When Danny was back from school and before he ran away to play cricket with his friends in the playground, I made him a grilled cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off. It is his favorite. I think that is when I must have hurt myself. Its nothinig, really.”, she continues picking where she had left.
“Do you still grow Lavendar? I love the buzz of the bees on the Lavendar flowers early in the spring. It reminds me of that summer holiday we all took for my 10th birthday. I still have them pressed in a book somewhere.” I bite my tongue as soon as I utter the words.
“No, there is no Lavendar in my garden. I prefer the warmer colors. Last summer I had the gardener grow a hybrid rose by pairing the cuttings from a bright red and a yellow one. I can show you later, if you want. It is right by the Guava tree in that corner“, she points with the tilt of her head as she takes a sip from her cup.
Framed in carved wood on the side table, I eye the solitary picture in the room. There is that yellowish tinge at the corners that tends to takeover everything old. A tall young woman in two plaits stands right in the middle, her chin jutting out, shoulders square as four children of varying heights surround her legs and Danny, a mere infant, on her hip. I look just like her, I think to myself. How old was she when that picture was taken – Thirty? Thirty five?
“Ahh, that picture, yes. I think it is rather beautiful, don’t you think? How lucky that woman to be surrounded by her babies like that. I think it belonged to the people who lived in this house before but I kept.” she picks up the picute and peers closely, adjusting her glasses with her frail fingers. “I could not bring my self to throw it away, for some reason. A strange sense of familiarity.”
Placing the picture gently down in her lap, she continues “You know, I always wanted a large family, atleast five kids, a dog and a few cats. But I am happy that I have Danny. He is a wonderful kid, a bit rough around the edges but he has a good heart.” I nod and smile. There is hardly anything to say.
“It is getting dark, I must head back” I say, gathering my handbag, “You take care of yourself, and I will see you next week“.
“Oh..but you live next door, don’t you? Atleast wait with me till Danny is home“, her gray-blue eyes willing me to stay, the same gray-blue that all five of her children inherited from her, whether she remembers or not.
“Of course, I will stay. Shall I make some more tea?”