Back to Issue Thirty-Three

National Holiday and a Parade



परदादा in the veranda. White kurta, square glasses. Sitting
in the giant of a rocking chair his father had graced before
him. Every time we would return, we could see him from
the driveway, right where we left him a year ago. A concrete
image of my first seven summers. He would smoke hookah
most summer evenings. Maybe I made that up. Rey and I
would spare him a few lines before running inside. A
pre-requisite to everything that would come after. The ghosts
in my family always come back for our minds. All the threads
were untangling on their own whims, a play only they had
the script to. Restricted access. Through all that
losing, old and new, परदादा would spill the dal and cry for his
father as he held his son’s hand. He would repeat his stories,
all loosely-weaved and well-loved to anyone who would listen.
We, with our familial ghosts and tricky minds, know that the
stories are how you keep all of us alive. Give us the threads –
the good and the bad– we will weave another generation out
of it. Some histories do not allow for sugar-coating. Through
all that losing, old and new, परदादा would look at my brother
and me and see us for who we are. He held onto our names
till it bled from his palms. He taught us how to converse with
the dog and swim among the fishes. When we had been
especially good, he would allow the tamarind tree to indulge
us in its generosity. He would feed us mangoes from the
orchard, never complaining about the mess we made. Maybe
I made that up as well. This is what it means to cherish. It was
Republic Day when the flight attendant asked if we were going
home to celebrate. परदादा would have liked that. A national
holiday and a parade felt suitable for his passing. I had not
learned to speak in loss yet. The dance of sensitivity escaped
me. I remember washing all the bitter with the sweets I kept
stealing from the dining room and complaining about the itchy
blue blouse my mother had packed for me. Later, I told दादी
about seeing परदादा under the neem tree. He was asking me to
look after the dog. She said I should tell him not to worry.
When the rocking chair squeaks, the tamarind tree bends down
to listen.


Anu Vitasta currently lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she studies English Literature & Creative Writing.


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