Sathi bounds toward the north-west poplar, at the base of the icy slope, to the river landing. My 13-year-old retriever-mix digs for chews around its base, now an icy soup of dark brown fall leaves, and spry branch twigs. The poplar is naked, except for the mesh iron casing around its sturdy trunk – a protection from the clever, and hefty Saskatchewan beavers. The tree is impatient, I think, for the cover of whirling leaves and bird song, if only to blend in with its evergreen neighbors.
In winter the tree was clothed in white crystalline filament, and the blue hue of the iced-branches showed through the layers of snowflakes. On cold sunny days, the peeking yellow-green of its body, mimics the soft inky contour of a water-color painting. I love looking at the tree through my window. I call it my Kashmir tree. It reminds me of laughter, happy shouts, playful screams and the weightlessness of climbs.
Yet, today the body of my mind is restless and encased in dark shadows. Looking into the distance beyond the river I sense myself again. I am waiting with the families of the passengers on the Malaysian 370 airplane. The immense black cauldron of the Indian Ocean, the bobbing debris, the splinters and a bang of disintegration form a gauzy dark backdrop and I imagine my mother in the window seat, looking down at the dark black restless Atlantic before the disaster struck almost thirty years ago. A ruby-red Pashmina shawl around her small shoulders, I imagine my mother writing letters with her silver fountain pen. Writing to me. What would she be saying to me? Perhaps reminding me to take it easy, and accept life’s unevenness with grace and perhaps, say also – please dearest don’t mind everything Kashmiri. And then bang, and oblivion as that doomed Air India Flight burst into bombing blaze, and then flailing bodies of men women, young old and little children, greeted by the thrashing dark Atlantic.
Still, a person must move on. Time heals, and Malaysian 370 families will move on in time as well. An invisible string ties me to the families, and I must stand and wait with them.
Sathi has dug up something. I can see a bit of red hanging from his jaw. A ball I think, and beckon. He drops it at my feet, and looks up guiltily. It is a little girl’s summer shoe. It is crimson, with its Velcro fastener hanging loose. I pick up that wet cold dripping shoe, and place it in the nook of my Kashmir tree, and turn towards the sandy river bank – now claimed by a gaggle of Canada Geese, just returned home. Barking, squawking, flying ensues, and I slip back into my head.