Updated: Jul 10, 2020
I was stored in a grey area, somewhere in her memory between her hippocampus and cerebral cortex, when she said za’atar. She said Za’atar because this herb will make my memories long-lasting even though her memories were shrinking.
Vegetarians burn faster, so she said Za’atar so that it would not take as long for her brain to burn the memory of me and consume my body with its crimson embers. So the blistering heat could become the Pied Piper of Hamelin and play its torrid tunes and easily unlace me from between her neurons so she no longer knows who I am.
Za’atar she said because the Pied Piper was tired and could not untangle my fingers grasping her neurons, but she decided that I still needed to vanish from her memory. I needed to be burned. So she decided to send my body to a cremator instead and the Za’atar, she said, will ferment in my brain and haze my vision and I would not feel a thing.
But she did not have enough money to buy a casket for my cremation so she got a cardboard box instead, and said: eat Za’atar! Because there are only 30 calories in every tablespoon and I needed to shed the last 17 pounds to fit in that box. I did, I ate the herb for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Za’atar she said because it teaches you compassion and she did not want to pay for the extra time it took the cremator to force me into that brown box, so I became compassionate and practiced getting girdled within its four walls.
Za’atar she said as she dropped me off at the cremator.
I went in, my mouth full of that herb as I got into the box.
I stayed surrounded by its four walls till its woody scents of unbleached paper laced with Elmer’s glue saturated my body.
Till the cremator came.
Till I could feel the heat of the furnace.
Till the embers of fire whipped the box’s fibers.
Till bubbles started multiplying on my adipose tissue making my body sizzle then evaporate into acrid whiffs of burnt flesh.
Till I was bleached from her memory.
Till I became a stranger.
Till I felt I was different even though I knew I had not changed.
Till I diagnosed her as legally blind even though I could feel her eyes, like glass orbs, staring at me, emotionlessly, unmoved that I am her granddaughter and she had not kissed my forehead for three years.
I stayed there until I was gone.
I remember I was told the more time you spend with a person, the less of a stranger you become to them. But I was also told to not trust everything I am taught. And with that, I realized time does not make you immune to becoming a stranger. In fact, Pearson's correlation coefficient would equal to zero if you calculated the relationship between spending time with a person and becoming a stranger to them. There is no correlation. Yet it sometimes seems as though there is a positive one. That the longer time you spend, the more of a stranger you become to them.
Za’atar, tata said. Za’atar because she had cremated the memories of me and didn’t want me to cremate hers. Because I had become a stranger to her but did not want herself to become a stranger to me.
Za'atar, so you will not forget that I am your tata, and you are my granddaughter, so that I am never a stranger to you, she said. Even though she had already cremated the memory of me. Even though I already was a stranger to her