I see her hair plaited into two braids
tied with red ribbons.
I see her dimpled smile
her teeth shining through.
Dressed in her school attire.
her heavy backpack hanging off one shoulder.
I see her holding her favorite snack in her hands.
The local bakery baked chips.
The 5 rupee pepsi she would get in a plastic bag.
I see her hair permed
shortened till it reached her neck.
She called it the Lady Diana look.
Copper colored lipstick smeared on her lips.
The dimpled smile patched on her face
as she sat on the straw mat,
weaving bright colors into her plain clothes
till the evening yawned into the night.
She’s sitting alongside her cousins.
their loud laughter echoing through the room
they touch upon an old photograph from their buried past,
younger selves sitting alongside each other.
The same scene replaying in a different time.
What a glow your face brings
when these conversations are recalled,
when these faces appear again
cherished memories fill these walls.
Oh, I wonder, my Ammi jaan.
How much do you miss
those walks by Muscat’s shore
in the midst of a cold
Those newly sewn clothes
bangles and clips decorating your hair
matched with your cousins
worn on a joyous Eid morning?
Those afternoon naps
after tirelessly teaching
eager young students
in the hot May sun?
Those trips to zoos
children clustered at the back of a minivan
oh, how one might ponder
“How does the whole family fit in?”
My ammi jaan, I am jealous of your past.
Of your inner child.
She still hasn’t said goodbye.
She awakens whenever you step foot
in your Motherland.
I feel warm inside,
seeing your inner child
run around the house,
she wears the signature dimpled smile
she has always worn.