After transcribing the first week I typed her passages in large font and brought them to Babu for her to read. As she’s always done, she reads out loud to me in a slow, deliberate voice, looking up often, sometimes off into the distance and sometimes at me. “Drobey…he lived in the same four family house as me.” I was hesitant for a moment to ask her more; instead allowing her to read on and tell me about The Poli and how she reverently said Sophie’s name and explained she was her best friend, allowing her words to be long and immense. Then Drobey came up again and I asked: “Was he smitten with you, Babu?” I looked at her with a smile and my head cocked and she freely admitted they were smitten with each other. I wanted to giggle. There is something about the gods and angels we make of our parents and grandparents. It seems scandalous and fun to see them so human and raw and this feels like we are in the joke together, making fun of the boy she begins to call “caveman” in only a few pages. She reads the passage about Drobey wanting to read her 1934 diary and I ask her what she thinks of him asking her such a thing. She is silent for a moment, processing. Then she holds the papers in her hands and bends down, speaking directly to the transcribed passage. “I don’t remember you saying that.”
I expected heartache to be a part of this process but not this sudden, not solely on my end and for so small a gesture. All of these people in these pages, people she loved so dearly, her mother and father, her best friend, “The Caveman,” even…possibly every single named mentioned, they are all gone. They have all left her. She is really the last. Can we, the much younger generation possibly be the same sort of tether to this world the way they all were?