Some nights I wake up wondering if your nose was as I remember it. Sharp and defined. I remember you used to tie your wispy thin hair with a string stripped from the bark of a banana tree. I used to pull it to annoy you. 'As if I have 6 feet of hair for you to play with! Go away', you would rebuke me while re-tying the sad bunch into an indistinct bundle. And your voice. A while ago, I was worried that I was starting to forget the sound of your voice. But one day, out-of-the-blue, I remembered the children's rhyme you used to sing. Something about running squirrels and yellow pumpkins. I recalled your voice in an instant.
When I look at myself in the mirror these days, I compare my reflection with your photo. Same eyes, nose. And when I brush back my hair, I can see where I get my broad forehead from. Funnily enough, I never inherited your love for coffee. They say that you used to run through the back door to your mother's house for an extra gulp. Did you really do that?
As far as I can recall, you never complained. But you had quite a temper. The other day I heard someone mention that you were an ocean of patience. How we tend to bestow upon the departed a uniformly genial disposition. As your first born, I often bore the brunt of your short fuse. You would pinch me on my thigh and I would howl with pain. I only have to close my eyes and it stings even today. I cannot believe you have been gone for so long. I still remember telling the younger ones that you will be back soon. Because it was getting dark and you would never stay out after sunset. I refused to believe that you were not coming back. I was angry at you for a long time for neglecting us. But at nights, I would talk to you. I told you about my graduation. How I took up father's profession. My wedding. The birth of your first grandchild (he was still born). I named my daughter after you. I tell her that she looks like you. May be I just want her to look like you. She is a wonderful mother. Even if she pinches her little boy on his arm once in a while.
My father lost his mother 50 years ago this Tuesday. He was a teenager then. This is an imagined piece.