Rekha. No, Rekhachechi.
A name that had started to fade somewhere along the back of the mind, catapulted to the front now. Pictures come running through the mind as if someone has put a flashback on.
With both hands her in her pockets, the image of someone walking on yellow tiles that smells of disinfectants, here pristine white coat covering her bright saree with colorful designs.
With wide eyes and a mischievous smile, she would come around to look for me, if she knew I was around. Did she have dimples in her cheek, and a touch of sandalwood streak on here forehead? I cant remember. Come to think of it, I don’t even have a picture of her at home, and a fuzzy remembrance of how her face looked. The only thing that I do remember with clarity was the love with which she would call out my name. I may even have forgotten the voice, but the love remains etched, like the birthday card greetings that she have left behind, which are still kept in a little box in one of the shelf.
Now you might be wondering, what this is about. This is about Rekha. She used to work with my mom in a hospital. Chechi is a term of endearment and respect, that which one calls and elder sister. Much like Akka in Tamil or Didi in Hindi. I was very little then, probably around 10-12 years old. Even back then her name piqued curiosity. It felt unique, and even now, I haven’t met anyone with her name. Her name means “A line”. Simple enough, but may have different interpretations. A mathematical line, or a line that’s supposed to be drawn on the head,which also denotes faith, or it could even be a ray of sunlight.
I remember going to her wedding along with my mom. I remember being adamant that we should not be going empty handed and having wanted to give the gift myself. If memory serves me correct, it was a small miniature of a wedding couple with Happy Married Life or something written on the bottom. Hers was the first of the only two Hindu wedding that I have taken part in. I remember talking non stop about the taste of food we had. It is one the tastiest vegetarian food I’ve ever had.
She left the hospital after her wedding. Mom moved to another clinic. I saw her many years later. She had a vegetable store, and lived in a flat above it. She looked completely different. Married, working and with a kid, she looked older. We caught her in the middle of work. She looked flustered, yet happy to see us. The hair was dishevelled, the face starting to show wrinkles, signs that she had left her youth far behind. The remnants of a mischievous smile still playing on her lips, surviving, somehow.
Why did I think of her now? Come to think of it, how many Rekhachechi’s are there in my life? For some reason, I find myself reluctant to think about it. Is it a sin to forget people whom we once loved and respected, but had moved out of our lives long back, slowly faded out?
Yet, there is a strange feeling of happiness for having though of her now. At least I have thought about her, written her down, and through this, some years in the future, I might return to read this, only to remember a lovely voice calling out my name dearly.