Yellow Butterfly Metamorphosis. Kisses That Heal.
I slowly slithered out of the blanket, out of Mama’s warm embrace. I was always wide-awake before the sun, before any one else in the house. “I have to win this time!”, I muttered to my 9 year old self. Like every other morning, I ran down to the kitchen bare-feet, fighting the chill of the orange kitchen floor tiles. I could hear the gentle snores of my grandparents from the other room. The faucet leaked drops at a steady rhythm, like a disciplined metronome. Up high on my tippy toes, I reached for the rice bin, scooped out a bowl full of white rice, and ran my way back upstairs to the rooftop. The metal stairs to the very top of the house that my father had designed, elegantly swirled upwards. I carefully held onto the railings as I climbed up to the top, barely looking down at all. The sun had started to peek through the horizon, and lay its warmth on beautiful Kathmandu Valley. The roosters and all the other birds in the trees nearby had started to sing their good mornings. The sky looked endless as I stood still on the roof. I took a deep breath of the refreshing and cold morning air.
It was time. I reached into the bowl full of rice, pinched a handful and threw it across the roof, and before I even started calling them, they were here. I could see the flock of pigeons from the neighbourhood, flying towards me. The sound of their fluttering wings now filled the air. What a magnificent sight it was. Dozens of them covered the sky and now they were on my rooftop, hungry and curious. A few tiny sparrows had joined the feast as well. I gave them another handful, and watched contently.
My direct competition was the old lady who lived about a block away on 110 Shanta Basti Galli. I lived on 122. We were the only two houses in the neighbourhood that fed the pigeons. But it didn’t matter how hard I tried, how early I woke up, or if I decided to feed them more than a bowl full of rice. She always won. She always got more pigeons to show up on her rooftop, even the
rare white ones. I couldn’t quite figure out how she managed to do it. Perhaps it was because she had been feeding them way before I was even born. 10 years had passed and I was back visiting home after a very long time. I’d spent all my adolescent years in Canada, and had grown into a young woman. Nothing much seemed to have changed at home however. The walls were a little musky, and I had grown taller so everything seemed to be about half the size of what I remembered them to be. Other than that, everything else seemed to have remained static. The vibrant, thin, papery and pink Bougainvillea flowers bloomed on the veranda. I walked into the kitchen, and gathered a fist full of rice in my right hand, ran upstairs to the rooftop, reminiscent of the little girl in me. The air still felt fresh on my face. Excited, I threw the grains of rice. However, there were hardly any pigeons this time. Only the ones who had been living under the arch of our roof showed up. I looked far across at house no. 110. The old lady wasn’t there either. I wondered if she was okay.
The phone rang and I scurried downstairs to receive it. It was Mama. “ Your Hajurbuwa is no longer with us...” she said followed with a deep sigh, “He passed away this morning.”
My grandfather had been at the T.U hospital and terribly ill for some time. I couldn’t believe that he was gone. I had just visited him yesterday, and he had been doing just fine. My heart froze when I heard the news. I could feel a painful knot forming in my larynx, and a silent numbness soon engulfed my body.
The next morning was here. I had never seen death before, had never experienced a funeral. The living room was filled with family members and friends I hadn’t met in a very long time. Several Buddhist monks dressed in golden embroidered robes sat in a row in the living room chanting meditative prayers and mantras that would help Hajurbuwa’s spirit...
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