My dear Pua,
Today, my family and I were going to come to your home for dinner. A couple of days ago, I had called you and I had told you of the plan we had: to have dinner at your place, once a week, every Tuesday, I said. I could feel your smile through the phone, I know how much the idea pleased you. I know you were so terribly lonely and though we popped in – at my odd hours – to check in on you and check up on your tablets and your visits to your doctors and discuss your ailments – I know you missed people around you.
I always called you a social butterfly. You used to wave me off and say, I just like people. And you really did. In the family, we had this joke, that Munni Pua on leaving her home would always look around her to see which people were around so that she could stop and have a conversation with them. You were a people’s person and people sure did love you.
I know I certainly do – using the past tense seems almost irrelevant. Love for me doesn’t really die – not if it truly existed. And I do love you. I am more like you than you will ever know. I love things neat and tidy. I love beiges and browns. I love sweets. I love entertaining. And I love my family enough to be entirely honest with them about how I feel – which at many times, is construed negatively. I get you though…I really do.
I didn’t really know all those years ago – twenty-five years ago to be exact – why I wrote you that letter. You were the first person in the family, after my mother, I decided to come out to, in regards to my sexuality. You wrote me a letter in reply. “It doesn’t matter to me whether you are gay or straight,” you wrote, “you are my nephew, Harpreet, and nothing will ever change that fact, or the fact that I love you.”
Though I have tried many times, I will never be able to fully convey what it means for someone in the family to say that to a young man of eighteen. You and I have had heart to heart conversations, a million times, and, in more ways than one, I find you to be more progressive in thought than most women your age. I will never forget how you opened the doors of your home, to over twenty gay boys, who were ousted from MacDonald’s, for having a GB meeting there. For me, it was so natural, that my aunt would do so, because I was raised in an environment which afforded me that security. And you had a great role to play in providing me with that security.
I remember all the times I stayed with you, in your beautiful house in Chowpatty. I remember always breaking our sojourns to the British Council Library, at your home. Goan prawn curries. Cheese pulao. Frankies. Kada. I shall never be able to eat these without thinking of you, Pua. I don’t think anyone who knows you ever can.
You will forever remain in my life as this goddess who bestowed shelter and food to all who came to your door. You are a generous being and I mean that in every sense of the word. Thank you for being there for me, whenever I need you. Your love has been a beacon of support in my life, and though it doesn’t burn anymore, the memory of your shining light will be enough to sustain a life time.
I am glad you are at peace now. Having left us, in the most Munni-Pua-like way, with nothing left to chance, everything rounded up, your loved ones met, your instructions drawn out, and your loose ends all tied up in a lovely conclusion.
You will be loved forever,