Nani's Cha

'Cha peena?', she wobbles to the kitchen door, her head poking into the living room. Her eyes are so small, she's almost a cartoon character.
'Hanji, pleaseeeeeeeee', I elongate the please, but it sounds more like 'pleeeedddgggg', just to see that little smile on her face. Sometimes she's already smiling, so it makes her giggle. Sometimes, she's frowning because she's called my name 10 times already.

Moving to the kitchen, I ask if she needs any help and she bats me away.
'HUT!', she looks irritated, but it's only for show.
I grab some of her homemade biscuits and she puts a saucepan on the gas.
'Ahh um, Englishhh or Indian?', her eyes are slightly wider, but still impossibly small.
'Indian pleaseeeeeeeeee'
She smiles again.

Sitting back in the living room, I can hear her working. She's got a pestle and mortar that mum bought her. At first she tried to use it every day and then eventually, after grinding everything, she realised she only needed it occasionally. Now when she does use it, she feels accomplished: she grinded something today, she did well.

The herbs were infusing in the saucepan and I could smell them in the living room.

A mixture of the smell, her banging noises as she misjudges the height of everything and the feel of her worn out sofa against my back, becomes almost photographic for my senses. I know every movement, smell and sound. I can feel every spring in the back of my thighs. I can hear the low volume TV, playing some news channel in the background, but that cancels out, I don't need that.

And then she calls, 'BETI! CHA!'

The springs feel the pressure of my legs as they bounce off the sofa and towards the kitchen.

She's already cleaning up and I spot a small clear glass with a light pastel orange coloured liquid and steam feverishly gushing out of it.

One sip, that's all I need. I can't wait for it to cool down, and I burn my lips and mouth.

One sip and I'm happy.

She looks at me.

'Kush kaana?'

I smile.