Sailors left behind lockets for their loved ones before they set sail. Mine was a platinum oval that opened into two halves. The small pictures inside had us looking opposite ways. 

I would touch it compulsively, like the fortune rock my mother held in her palms when she needed comforting. Washing dishes over the sink, walking through the market, smelling roses on the way back home. I dreamt dreams in whale sounds. 

Not knowing where you were going was confusing. I did not know how to think of you – was it day where you were, or was the light just setting? Was the ocean the blue of your eyes, had you planned a date of return?

Yet I never visited the dock, I had never lingered there like other families, waiting. I was happy to not picture the place where our distance turned real. Somewhere the land ended and there was only sea, for miles and miles and thousands of uncountable nautical distances, until there was land again. And then there, another lover, holding a pendant between their small fingers, looking at the moon that makes the waves in the water.



Grief etcetera.


Grief comes with its furniture, misspelled postage on the packaging. It leaves around the bubble wrap and the cushioning hay, empties the cartons and arranges it chaos while humming a French song whose words mix with each other. It places a desk against the wall, like it were here to stay. Your claylike body accepts the weight of its four metal feet, as they are pressed on like tattoos. It brings a typewriter with missing keys, papers torn from thick books no one ever finished reading. A chandelier made from collected shards of glass, sharp enough to slit your fingers. A flowerpot with magnolias that it never waters. 

A second-hand sofa and a table with an Italian lace cover, that shows dust between its cream coloured reticulations. A can of dark blue paint that looks like it could hold stars but doesn’t, to paint the windows nightly. Grief brings no blankets for the cold. But oil lamps, yes, it doesn’t trust electric bulbs. Sometimes, it sits in the dark on a rocking chair that neither recognises it’s weight nor oscillates, and if you pass by it, you may not notice it. 

Grief brings a clock with no hour hand. A cracked cup that cuts its lips every time it tries to take a sip of juice. There is no mirror, no cabinet or extra spoons. There is an eggshell shaped flask that it dreams of keeping a fish in. Grief has no name, and plans to call the fish with hoots. It keeps pebbles on the floor, blue, grey and brown, like a half-made seashore that someone forgot about. And a refrigerator to keep mechanical tools, a spade and an axle. It has a radio that needs a change of batteries and crackles with transmission buzz. A hotplate to cook food, and a piece of paper with emergency numbers written in haphazard handwriting.            


Raisin Ration

As a child, I never loved raisins. In fact, cherries and berries were never my favourite fruits.

Every time my aunt would cook vegetable rice with nuts in it, my raisins would quickly end up in my sister’s plate, with a trade in for cashews- her dislike. I would skip spoonsful of raisins in pineapple pudding, nitpicking the pineapples first to serve my taste for the tangy.

This escape at the dinner table was my only chance at skipping raisins. I would graciously offer the cherry of my vanilla pastry to my elder sister. Who would pop them in her mouth almost instantly, knowing how I dislike cherries very well. And only then would I heartily cut through the scrumptious baked yeast flour, and savour the thick cream.

I was never a fan of extra sweet and sappy. So raisins were a no-no. I never did like their puffy sappy surreal taste of sugar and syrup. But burnt raisin cookies I loved. It was like they had the fire I needed. You know?

The only place I liked my sugar, other than in my coffee, and on coconut cookies, was of course, the sugar jar.

I never hated the innocent raisins, do not get me wrong, but my love for them was, let’s say, undiscovered. The mere happiness of getting them out of my plate was filling enough to blow my heart.

So, this happened as a courtesy every time. Raisins out, cashews in. But I believe I never understood the deeper meaning of this sacred affair until now.

More important than not having to have raisins, was the understanding that someone will always be there to fall back on. To help me not do what I do not want to. A spree-a-liser. A friend. A make-me-happy with simple things. A Correct-me-right if something’s wrong. A help-me-get-through. My sister, was not just my rookie to raisin ration, but she saved everything else in my life as well.  Of course I didn’t realise this then. That this raisin quota was not just a trade in for dehydrated grapes.

It is only now that she is gone so far away; that I have developed a love for these raisins. For their sweetness, and their sap, and the little sour that I have manifested in them. I have learnt with time to appreciate them, now that my raisin allowance is gone. Eating them bit by bit with care, so that they do not miss their former eater as much as I do. But the anticipation of her returning isn’t gone. And she when she does come, I am sure, she will save us again.


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