My most precious possession is a gold chain,
from my grandmother.
I can still remember it,
as if it were a distant day last week.
That day the air was rich,
the neighbourhood smelling of basil and freshly made sambar,
The traffic was overwhelming,
straining the auto as it wove its way through the tapestry that was our town: Nellore, India.
I remember my grandmother's eyes twinkling,
She never could look at me without smiling.
Her sunken wrinkles disappeared when she smiled,
her long fingers flipped through pages of the address book,
The sun shone warmly in the depths of her dark skin.
I remember her teasing, "If you keep your head out too long, flies will hit it," as I was enjoying the fresh air in front of the stores.
When we stepped into the jewelry store, the AC blasted us.
Our sweating faces were relieved, our skin finally breathing for the first time on the ride here.
I saw the chain,
the light making it wink as coyly as the idol of Lord Krishna on it.
I still can't explain it,
how the chain sunk into my collarbones, dressing my neck with bright and golden purpose, and yet the simplicity the necklace retained.
I fell in love.
Seeing my grin, my grandmother immediately bought it, despite my groans and protests.
As the years passed, I didn't see my grandmother much.
She was in India, and even though I was only over the ocean, America felt worlds away.
Like the years, my grandmother aged,
her mind slowly descended into the sorrrowful depths of forgetfulness and paranoia. Sometimes, she isn't as paranoid as other days. The other days hurt the most.
To this day, I am wistful of the good old days.
Where my only daily worry was whether or not my grandmother would make jelabi for me, instead of "Am I needed?" or "Will I find the will not to die today?"
But somehow whenever I put on that chain,
everything goes away.
I go back to that day,
of sambar and ACs.
And I remember not to take for granted,
my tale of grandmothers and gold chains.