Who was she? It was a question that her condition left her unable to answer. Her eyes had witnessed a century’s worth of history, or rather lived it, but she did not know it. She had been educated in the sciences (at the time, this was uncommon for local Indian women), yet she knew nothing about them. She had crossed paths with the great leaders of the time, but she had no idea. She was a female at the forefront of freedom movements, a frequently cited example for young minds, but she was unaware of it. It may raise questions as to the value of achievement and the fickle nature of this coin toss called life, but to the protagonist in question, this golden past created a hole (and a crack) in her heart, scarring the soul with an emotional pain that is most similar to the sentiment carried by the people of a civilization seeing its downfall. But it was perhaps worse. The Rumal (a piece of fabric) Her withered fingers coiled as a serpent around the Rumal, choking the embroidery and dampening the cloth with sweat. What was this now? According to her kids, or individuals who claimed to be her kids as far as she knew, it had been passed down the family through generations to serve multiple purposes, such as a reminder of one’s culture in all its artistry. When her grandson (an individual she met infrequently) asked what the delicate embroidery meant, she had no response. Rather she continued clinging to it with a firm indifference and looked at the disappointment in his eyes. The child’s mother went on to remind her, ” It was your nani’s, tied to her garments at all times, going wherever she went and embroidered with flowers to show her relation with her granddaughter…you.” But she had no memory of the tender touch of a grandma or the loving face of such a person. She never knew anyone it seemed, but herself. She had no recollection of laughing in gardens with a parent even. She searched and searched, going deeper into the mind, unravelling nothing but a deeper void. It was losing, it was defeat and it was her vulnerability in the face of what remaining connections she had with this world. The Resolution It was strange, falling into a sea of emptiness as nothing but a hollow shell sinking in lost meaning. Incidents like the Rumal happened every day, at every moment. What was expected of her? Who was she? Why had she lost the meaning and purpose of breathing? These incidents reinforced such questions, they aroused a deadly melancholy that was being exacerbated by the second. Slowly, the Rumal began to represent her confusion, her connection with the world (whichever part of it was left) culminated in the form of this fabric. Slowly, it evoked anger, desperation, contempt and bitterness by thrusting itself in front of the sword of her eyes. Fate had her open the email one day. In her inbox, a letter invited her to an inspirational public speaking event in light of her achievements. Again, she was overwhelmed with fury; why did she fall and forget? Why did she lose such a life? How would she say that the individual so highly spoken of is long lost, dead, and forgotten (alive in a broken state)? She was no longer the leader, but she also felt less human. Her blood propelled her, the rising pressure guiding her motion, and she found herself standing at a dangerous height and tearing the Rumal in front of her as her retaliation, as her rebellion, to fight nature and her past. And as the next step, to fight her disease, like the ripped Rumal proceeded to rip her body and soul. Is it not a soul but a void of memory, waiting to be ripped from the body? Is a human alive without memory? How do those with Alzheimer’s live through emptiness, when a single hollow in our hearts is unfilled? The writer is a freelance columnist.