Someone at work advised me to buy Airborne pills to boost my immunity during my upcoming travel to India. So, today I stopped by the corner CVS store on my way home, bought the Airborne, a travel-size hand lotion, a hand sanitizer, a bottle of multivitamin Centrum pills and a foot cream for Ammi, and long Playtex gloves for my sisters to protect their hands against abrasive chores. These were all staple items that I chose to leave for the last run.
After dropping a box of Tic-Tac mints into my basket, my right arm reached to grab a bag of Lindt’s chocolate truffles from the adjacent hook, of its own volition, and then stopped mid-air — heavy with the realization that I would not buy those truffles. Not ever.
They were my father’s favorites.
I would never again see the childish grin spreading on his face when he rolled the truffles in his mouth or hear the crunch of their wrappers stuffed in his front pocket or watch him implore Ammi for one more when she pulled the bag from his hands.
I quickly checked out at the register, avoiding small talk, without getting my CVS loyalty card scanned and without responding to the cashier’s “have a good night”.
My car absorbed the deluge.
Earlier today, the same someone at work had asked me which part and towns of India I was planning to visit. “Mostly North. Roorkee,” I said, “that’s where my parents live.”
Immediately, my eyes darted away from her, seeking refuge in the wall behind her, which transformed into a giant screen, illuminated with a picture of Ammi, wrapped in a shawl, sipping her morning chai alone in the porch, beside my father’s nameplate hanging on the door of my childhood home.
“I am sorry,” the someone said, rousing me.
“I mean, my mother lives there now.”
Even earlier today, at the end of my morning prayers, I asked God, “Please be with my parents. Keep them healthy and happy,” and then corrected myself, “God, keep my Ammi healthy and happy. Grant peace and a place in Jannat to my father.”
At times, I find myself closing my eyes and wishing for my father’s health on stray eyelashes.
It’s been a year but parts of me still forget.