Do you remember me?

Dada Ji,
my grandfather,
Daddy says your cognition is
slipping away.

All you remember is eating,
and my grandmother, Dadi Ji’s, name:
Raj Kumari.
Your wife and
forever your princess.

It’s another Sunday morning,
and Daddy and I are talking to Dadi Ji in
another one of our weekly video calls.
You’re there, too.
Despite the time difference between
America and India, we make it work.

I see you read a prayer.
I see you stumble over the words.

And then,
Dadi Ji tells you to talk to Daddy—
“Say hi to Rajeev.”

“Who is Rajeev?” you ask,
and then you spot Daddy’s face;
all you say is, “Wow,
Rajeev is very beautiful.”

You don’t remember your own son.

Daddy, say you’ll remember me forever;
promise me you’ll always remember your little girl,
the baby who saw you from halfway across the airport
and couldn’t stop jumping up and down in her stroller
because she hadn’t seen you for weeks.

I see Dada Ji in your eyes and
your voice sounds proud
and sad
when you speak of your father.
I’ve never really seen you sad before.

You say Dada Ji knew so many people
that a thousand guests came to your sister’s wedding,
and that Dada Ji was so well-respected that people
traveled from all around to seek his advice.

So tell me,
Dada Ji,
what do I do?

What do I do so Daddy never forgets me?
So he never forgets the way my eyes lit up
when he picked me up at night,
and Mama picked up my brother,
and they spun us around in circles
until we were dizzy with laughter.
So he never forgets how we waited for him to
come home every day
and beat us at Sweep.
Or how I never tell him I love him,
because somewhere along the way I got hurt,
and I haven’t been able to bring myself
to say the words to him or Mama
since I was five,
but they know that deep down,
I really do love them.

And how do I make sure I never forget,
when I’m older
and my hair is as smoky as Daddy’s,
how his stubble feels scraping my face
as he kisses me goodnight,
and how he always picks out the best clothes for me,
and how he told me if I keep my focus,
I can move mountains?

Dada Ji, I don’t even remember you.
All I remember is that when you came to visit,
I had a dream you were gone,
and now it’s like you really are,
and I don’t know what to think.

I think that’s the worst way to go.

To go and never remember you’d lived
at all.

You’re never going to remember me, Dada Ji.

I’ll never get to know you better.

I spent all this time giving it no second thought and now
my only memory of you is how you were always cold
and liked to wear cool hats.

Dada Ji, I’ve been thinking.
You don’t know Daddy anymore,
but the first thing you noticed about him
was that he’s beautiful.
You didn’t remember him but
you still remembered how to see beauty.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe that’s enough.

Because I’m trying,
but I was so young
when I knew you and
you’re on the other side of the world and
I’m so sorry.

I don’t remember you.

Do you remember me?