Bela Kaul lived the first 10 years of her life in Dehra Dun, India surrounded by stories her grandmother weaved. She spent her teenage years in Hong Kong and has been living in USA for the past 29 years with her husband of 28 years. They have one daughter.
Her greatest gift, the Pashmina shawl I always keep close to me, keeps me close to Ammaji. On the days I miss her most, I disappear in its warm threads. The soft threads made from hairs of a goat of special breeding, of higher land, of hardy nature. The fabric is plain in appearance, even dull, the color of mud. A one-inch border of muted red, green, and yellow embroidery revolves around its edges. This simple cloth may not be much to look at but on many a cold nights it has warmed me. On the long, lonely evenings when my thoughts wander back to my home in the valley with Ammaji, my Pashmina has given me healing comfort. The smells it carries - hint of faraway lands, of spices foreign to this land of lakes, an aroma of Ammaji’s youth and a reminder of my time there and here.
Raman took a sip of his tea, notebook still in one hand. He leaned back on the sofa without a word, took a final gulp of the tea, put the cup back on the tray and tugged the string that marked the last written page.
Dimple’s eyes cast down.
Raman read aloud.
March 25th, 1986
Today I learned that she might have glaucoma. Her eyesight is getting weaker. One day she might lose it completely. Is that what a journey, such as Ammaji’s, climaxes to? Darkness? She carried the torch for us all. She’s been our guiding light all her life. And now, in the twilight of her years, she has darkness to look forward to. Life is just not fair.