The insistent ring of my cell phone dragged me out of my sleep. As my hands groped about in the dark for my phone, my body still refusing to budge from its stance of sleep, I unconsciously glanced at the time. The fluorescent dial on the clock said 2:43 am. As my fingers finally wrapped around the phone on the bedside table, after what seemed like a lifetime, I was ready to kill the murderer of my sleep.
As ‘mom’ displayed in red across her exuberant photo from ages ago, for a second I missed the way she used to smile; the way her dimples created whirlpools on her cheek, the lines that formed at the corner of her eyes and the way her eyebrows tried to reach out across one another. With a lump in my throat and rising panic, I quickly picked up the call.
“Mom! Is everything…”
“Monu, I can’t find it anywhere.” From her barely audible voice, and the strain that lingered, I realised that she was crying, again.
“I woke up all of a sudden, and it wasn’t there anymore.I…I looked everywhere. I stripped the bed, tore open the pillow case. Is it cause that wretched maid washed the sheets again? I told her a million times not to.”
“Mom. What are you…”
“I looked in the wardrobe too. I rummaged through the clothes and felt every wrinkle and straightened each fold. I checked the drawers, again and again. I searched the photos, carefully running my hand through every smile and every moment captured and frozen in time. I searched his specs, his phone, his wallet, his sandals. I can’t find it anywhere,” she started sobbing uncontrollably.
“Mom, listen to me. Calm down. Tell me what’s going on.”
In between sobs, she continued hysterically, “The books that he used to love so much, it’s not in there too. I checked every page of every book in every single cupboard. I can’t find…”
“…it anywhere. I have lost it, monu. I must’ve done something wrong. I must’ve misplaced something. I…”
“MOM!!!”, I couldn’t help raising my voice. “What are you talking about? What the hell did you lose?”
Silence suddenly crept in between us. I could hear the clock ticking and the multitude of insects keenly listening in on our conversation.
Composing herself, with the utmost care so as to not hurt the silence, with such calmness that bordered on being scary, her voice again reached out to me. “The smell. His…smell, monu. I can’t remember how your dad used to smell anymore.”
PS: Sahuui is a Korean word which means after death.