While I was looking for the charger of my camcorder, I found an old album. I stared at it for a while. Why I did that I am not really sure now. Then I gently picked it up as if it would crumble on my touch. I wiped the dust and opened the pages. Pictures yellow with age stuck on the thin plastic sheets that separated the photos.
I stopped at my grandmother’s picture. Her gentle big eyes catapulted my thoughts years ago. She must have been 70 when the picture was taken but when I was ten, I thought she was a hundred years old. I only have fleeting memories of her. My fondest memory when she applied the eyeliner with a thin, silver scoop from a white shell. I also remembered her solid wooden wardrobe that had shelves wide enough to push a bed in. It was often my hiding place when my big brother had a score to settle with me.
It smelled of sandalwood and her clothes of perfume. That colossal wardrobe was also a refuge to me when I was upset if I did not get good marks at school or the bullies used me as a target practice.
I turned the page and looked at the second photo. I was in cream shorts that looked like a skirt. I was chubby and looked every inch like a young bully’s delight. I was about four and I only remembered screaming and running to my mother after the powerful flash almost blinded me. It told the story of the way I grew up. Nervous and scared at almost everything that was around me.
There were other pictures in that old sticky album that didn’t touch the emotional cord. Except the one my cousin who was carrying me when I was a baby. She must have been 12 then but looked radiant with a big smile on her face. I put that album down and reached for my mobile phone. I called her. She was mildly surprised because I don’t often call her.
Since I hadn’t anything in particular to say to her, I enquired about her health. It was an awkward conversation with a few pauses between sentences. She was probably wondering what it was all about when we both put our phones down. I could not tell her that she took part in my upbringing and perhaps had some influence in the way I am now.
I found the charger of my camcorder and pushed away the box of old junks back in its place. My ten-year-old daughter walked to my room when I was straightening up. Did I take enough photos of her that would take her back into the memory lane when she has her own family?
“Why are you looking at me like that?” There must have been something in my eyes that made her sharply asked me.
Perhaps to hide whatever look that was in my eyes or perhaps it was one of those funny days, I just hugged her in a playful way. She giggled and that diverted both our attentions to the glory of the moment of being in each other’s arms.
“I don’t need lots of photos of you because I have a video camera,” I told her.
She gave me a puzzle look and asked, “Are you alright?”
I said “never mind” and enquired what she wanted to see me for.
“I want to show you where I want to go on holiday this summer,” she told me.
So we spend the next ten minutes on the Internet, looking at the destination she had in mind. While at it, I wondered if one day she would remember the moment years from now.
Saleh Al Shaibany