The Double Braid Girl
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
“Our death is our wedding with eternity.”
The school bell rang and a girlish roar crossed the boundary wall before the school gate opened. A long line of cars, rickshaws, horse carts, vans, and motorcycles awaited students at the pick and drop point. I sat in the driving seat of one of those cars waiting for my sisters. I saw them, the little fairies approaching the car. I got out to assist them with the heavy school bags they were carrying on their delicate shoulders.
I asked my youngest sister to bring the Sardar family girls since we were to drop them home today. My sister rushed back through the school gate and returned with a few more girls. I saw a beautiful girl walking with two weighty school bags on her shoulders. She was dainty, tall, and skinny. A double braid hanged across her sweaty face as she tried to stop her sister from sobbing in vain. I tried to assist her in unloading the bags into the trunk of my car but she was adamant to do it herself. Afterward, she sat holding her sister in her arm, mothering everyone in the car. She warned me to drive carefully, calmed her sister, and smiled at mine. As if she was God sent to take care of everything around her. She moved the hair off the forehead of my youngest sister, began to navigate, and quieted the hungry girls with a packet of biscuits. What a multitasker girl, they simply don’t make them like her anymore. She was one of a kind.
I smiled to myself at this natural mother. She must’ve been only a few years older than me but she cared for us like a duck protects her chicks under her wings. She assumed responsibility in every room, house, or city she walked in. She was the director of every scene. I bet she wouldn’t have let me drive the girls home that day had she known how to do it. She was not shy about her disapproval of me being an underage driver. She was our perfect, beloved Baji.
Baji, the girls, and I rode together in that car for a few minutes, but our joint journey never ended. After a few years, my uncle and Baji married each other. Her title never changed to “aunt”, she would always be my Baji. It suits her the most. We all lived in a duplex, a two in one bungalow. My siblings and I came with the house and she embraced us fully. It was no surprise when Baji assumed the role of our mom. God had given her the soul of a mother from the very beginning. My own mother had a loving heart, while Baji had an endearing one. The two of them got along well, except for a few sporadic neighborly discomforts. Nothing serious or major ever. This is why my mother was happy when our family’s relationship with Baji would see another dimension. My youngest sister was to marry Baji’s brother. The same little girl whose hair she fixed in the back of my car. I wonder if that small ride and gesture of a few minutes were designed by the dots of destiny. It must have been.
Baji became a mother of a beautiful doll soon after. A mother’s love for her child is a natural phenomenon, just like a leaf provides a haven for a dewdrop. But Baji’s love was even deeper, she lived through her child. She would faint if her baby had even the smallest of bruises. There is no doubt about how much she loved her children. There is no denial in God’s blessings on her.
The horse of time kept running and we rode on. I have now joined the grandparent’s club that she has been a part of for a few years. I have only recently learned of the love one holds in their heart for the extension of their children. Baji knew of this love for years. I am in awe of the warmth of her heart that touched her children and her grandchildren.
A couple of weeks ago, her son and my cousin called me. His tearful voice informed me that he took Baji for some liver tests. The lab results were a torpedo to our family. She had advanced-stage cancer spread all over her body, to the point of no return. My Baji, my uncle’s loving wife, my cousins’ doting mother, and an institution of our family, was sick.
Within a few weeks of the news, the girl with two braids walked out of the gates of the world carrying the heavy load of that cancer bag on her shoulders, like she once carried those school bags. She once again did not need my help unloading them and I didn’t have a trunk to offer her. We tried to assist but like always, she was used to carrying her own luggage. Baji proved to be adamant again. She didn’t bother to go through radiation and chemotherapy. She didn’t become an inconvenience to her family. She didn’t give us any chance to carry her bags. Off she went, only this time there were no braids. There is no doubt that she would be navigating the angels who came to take her home. May God bless my Baji. Rest in Peace little gal with two braids.
Golfer, Blogger, Entrepreneur, Author, Poet, Wanderer, Photographer