I remember my sister after many years. One clear image that comes to my mind was her crying. I was twelve then. My father had just died. His body was kept in front of the hospital entrance, on a grass lawn. Someone had pitched a bunch of incense sticks near his legs. It smelt of Srikhanda. People had gathered. There were relatives, friends, well-wishers and others who had come to watch what a death was like. I remember my father’s face. It was shrivelled, with clear traces of white. His eyes were closed. I stood and watched him. He looked as if he was in a deep sleep.
Now after more than twenty-five years after his death, another image that is stuck inside my mind is my sister’s crying. She was my cousin sister. Her voice was loud and clear. She beat her chest. She pulled her hair. Her crying never stopped. A close family member had to take her home.
More than ten years passed. One day, I received a phone call from Kathmandu.
I heard a voice, ‘Didi. Passed away, She had heart attack.’
I was stunned by the news. I immediately thought of her two children. They were small. I took the next flight to Kathmandu. Her body was kept at the Bir hospital. She was there on one side the hallway. A small screen was placed to block the site. She was in her early thirties. We took her body to a morgue. It had to be kept for one day so that all the relatives could see her. Next morning, she was decorated like a bride. She was washed with Haldi. Someone dressed her up in a red Sari. Sindur, Pote, and the small red dots on her cheeks…….Everything seems like yesterday. We took her in a white truck.
At Aryaghat, I saw my sister for the last time. It was a clear day. A plane was about to land at the Tribhuwan International airport. Some of the local boys were swimming on the river. Two more bodies were burning nearby. Relatives and friends sat at the steps near the riverbank. I had never seen her as beautiful as on that day. Her face glowed. It seemed as if she would rise any moment and speak. At the other side of the river bank a handful of spectators were watching. She never woke up.
By the time we returned, it was dark.