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.
Home never welcomes you as a guest.