I still remember your room Nani, the brightest and the warmest of all – the only room in the house big enough to fit all 20 of us. An old wooden door scratched all the way from the top to the bottom led us in. On the right laid your slightly worn out bed adjacent to the huge window looking out into the street. That street was never silent, it was the loudest of them all, even in the scorching May afternoons, but not the kind of loud that makes you want to shut the windows. It was loud yet so serene, I’d call it the most cheerful street ever.
I remember, in one corner of the room stood your burgundy bookshelf where you kept Nana’s favourite whiskey, taking a sip or two every night and you’d never miss it. Long after he was gone, you said it made you feel like he was right there, sitting beside you, that he never left. In other corner, rested your tall reading chair, where you’d spend your evenings holding my hand and telling me how Nana left a hole in your heart and how nothing could ever fill it.
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Over the years I could feel the lines on your palm fade away but it never worried me much for your touch grew warmer with time. All my life your room was the safest place known to me. But it was just a matter of time. One second is all it took. You didn’t fade away, you just vanished. A moment ago you were there and then just gone, and in a second’s time everything changed. Your hands felt colder than they’d ever been. I couldn’t grieve, I didn’t know how to. My insides were shaking while I stood still. I only knew that you took a little bit of me with you and it would never come back, that you would never come back. But I didn’t want to believe it.
Your room now looks very dimly lit. It has shrunk to the size of the tiniest room there can be. But the walls are still shrinking. It feels cold and I’m starting to shiver. The books look strange, they’re not the same. A deafening silence has taken over, it’s too suffocating to stand in here. All of this is unbearable.
Is this really the same room Nani? the room where we laughed through the darkest of nights? the room where I felt protected and loved? the room that held us all together? No, it can’t be. Maybe, it never was. It was you. It was your heart. Your heart was my home and it left a hole in mine. It left us all in pieces, too broken to be held together.
I still remember your room Nani. I always will. But I can’t bear to look at it now. It scares me.
Tamanna Malik is an English Literature student at Gargi College, Delhi University.