How Home Welcomes You

We were biding Basu Uncle goodbye

When Sharma Aunty walked out with a bucket of water

For the marigolds at her gate.

I take your hand and walk over to hers

Wondering if she’d recognize me;

Hoping she would.

You see, I learnt to love flowers from her

And found peace from agonizing environments

In her little garden as I helped her after school.

She never welcomed me –

Home doesn’t need to welcome you as a guest;

I was family there.

I’d ramble about my day to her

As she’d plate cookies for me,

Not handing them to me till I washed my hands

For a minimum of two minutes –

Scrubbing off sweat and dirt with sandalwood soap

And then drying my palms on her nightgown.

Like before, her marigolds were in all shades of marigold

And she still braided her hair when she dug the earth.

You held me back when I pushed open the gate

Reminding me of manners.

I smiled and nodded in amusement

As I patted you wrist in assurance.

Family didn’t knock before entering.

I cleared my throat and asked,

“It’s Saturday today. Any chocolate chip cookies for me?”

She paused and looked up at me.

I could tell my face brought her memories registered

Too long ago, requiring a little search.

I waited for her search to end

With a gasp and laugh

That added rainbows to the grey sky.

You see,

Home never welcomes you as a guest.

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