I had not thought of Snakes&Ladders, the board game in years when you came over and asked me if I still had your board, you wanted to play, while we waited for lunch to get ready. We could all play.
I don’t know what was more fun. The board game you have never beaten me at or looking for that board which is in boxes in the upper shelf of a cupboard we have not opened in years, since Mum passed away and Dad remained with us, closed up this house and came to live with me. My God those boxes of dust so thick it was like soot and you said laughing, “For once I’m brown in my life!” as I gave you a handkerchief to dust your cheek.
You had insisted my nephew sit by me and he was too happy too, “Maybe he will have your luck. You were always so lucky in this game and this game is life!” Even with Colin in my lap, tugging at my shirt and doing for me his chest dance, I won. But I won watching you because it seems like it’s been years and years since I have seen you laugh. Or maybe it’s because he took you away and Colin is here and you’re still the same. You’re the lucky one, you just don’t know it! No, you’re the lucky one.
Colin already has your fearlessness. Everyone says I’m the risk-taker but I have never risked what you have risked. You think you lost but you won. In my eyes you won, look at Colin! An imp! I like little girls but I love this boy!
Under the shade of the Mango tree in the compound, you showed me the ant hill where you used to hunt for ants with Faridah, “I wonder where she is now,” grew ruminative; then came back, laughing, “I remember the day ants entered your shorts!” Oh Lord, that story again.
In the dinning room, the big lunch ready, Colin perched in your arm, we forgot to pray, Colin from yelping and doing his little chest dance suddenly said, “Mama!” his first words and wonder descended. Wine and song and a feast and Colin, it was just another day, but in your company, it was not.
PS: She is a gentle, devastating fire!