Dearest Grandpa,
Today, I turn twenty-one.
“A year older, a year wiser” you say,
but I don’t agree.

Because when you are around,
I still feel like the little, naïve girl
that you protectively held
in your arms.

You used to throw me in the air
and catch me,
so you could hear the laughter
that erupted from my mouth.

You lifted me up high,
bore my burden
and endured the pain, so that I
could see the world from above.

Then one day, you stopped.
I cried and wailed for you to lift me
just once more, not knowing
what had struck you is irreversible.

Your arms grew weak.
Your fingers bent sideways.
I silently watched as you struggled
to even lift yourself up.

I blamed myself for your frailty;
if you hadn’t spent your strength on me
you wouldn’t be like this.
You would be – you.

Even then, you were there for me
to wipe my tears, and tell me
it’s okay, that I can once again see
the world from above with you by my side.

I smiled at the thought and asked “How?”
You held me close, and told me
to follow my dreams, for one day
they will bring me to the stars.

I took your hands, those very hands
that once held me, looked at how
delicate they’ve become,
and I made you a promise.

I’m here now, grandpa!
Twenty-one, but still the same little girl.
Here, take my hand!
Let’s head for the stars!

Faristha Kanakkapillai


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