I remember chicken marabella and couscous that mom cooked, the way it rolled in it’s own light olive-colored sauce, the tiny bubbles of oil pooling at the bottom of the bowl as I lifted it to the dishwasher.
I remember cherry pie and mango ice cream, him twisting the ice cream maker’s handle with his large hands.
I remember his hands, with black hairy knuckles and broad, flat fingernails; how I used to play with them in church, try to stick my pudgy fingers into his cavernous palm before it closed on me.
I remember sitting in the yoga room (before it was even that, I guess) on the burnt orange couch, sitting there with a sketchbook in the evening, and seeing his sure, easy fingers draw the smoky outline of a face, a woman’s face, beautiful and definite. “You come from a line of beautiful women”, he told me there, while I sat staring in frustration at the page, an unhappy thirteen year old. “Let me tell you about yourself. You’ve got your mothers lips, big and full, and that’s a good thing, although you may not think that now.” and he drew them there, a curving, gentle line with a smoky dark shadow under it. I stared at the page. He smiled as he drew. “You’ve had your mom’s lips since the day you were born, and you’re lucky.” And I thought of a picture of me, maybe three months old, clutching a tiny teddy bear and puffing out my lips, wide eyed and whispy haired. (I feel that way now, sometimes, just sitting and clutching and staring, adjusting in my body, knowing my own skin and eyes, sitting breathless in my own life.) “And,” he said, “you’ve got your grandmother’s hair. My mom.” I winced a little, running a hand over my frizzy splitting ponytail and wishing that I had inherited something a little less unruly. His voice changed for a moment, thinking, not talking to me anymore. “Your grandmother was a beautiful woman.” I thought about her, hunched and a bit paunchy now, generally looking stressed. Carma. I hardly know her, I wonder sadly, Grandma Carma. I thought of her name, Carma Carma Carma. What a beautiful name, I thought. I wish dad had a photograph of her when she was young, like a wedding picture. I imagined Carma with brown, curling hair, still short, but very thin, like all the girls of the 50’s. Maybe she wasn’t like this at all, I didn’t know though, so I let her name and Dad’s thoughtful description whisk me away, while he sketched.
“Carma Carma Carma.” I remember this.