I had never seen death in the family. So, when my maternal grandfather passed away, I was devastated. I had a number of questions surfacing up in my mind and I was bent upon seeking answers to these only to realize that we can perhaps never receive a satisfying answer to questions that are beyond our being. It has been three years since the incident that compelled me to finally document my emotions regarding what life is, what death is about and how love is stronger than both.
A body covered in a white shroud, the face still so beautiful with the exception of it being cold and lifeless now rests before me. When people pay him floral tributes, I go down the memory lane reminiscing those moments when he used to pluck flowers for me from the garden he had nurtured with his own hands. There were no children in his family then and I often felt reluctant to accompany my mother to her father’s place. For company, I would take two of my paternal cousins to his house. How happy he would be! Making me sit on a branch of his guava tree, he would pluck some for me to eat. Today, I put the last basil leaf and pour drops of the Holy Ganges in his mouth as the custom demands. History repeats itself but I guess, fate has got the lion’s share in twisting the chain of events! If not, then it is difficult to imagine the same person who carried me on his shoulders one day in turn being carried by me on mine. The only difference-he wanted to quieten me and I don’t want him to remain quiet.
An epitome of self-dependence, full of energy yet tranquil during difficult times, it wouldn’t be wrong to address him as a ‘Thorough Gentleman’. Having lost his wife the year I turned one, he never surfaced his grief, nor his loneliness. I was the only child to have witnessed her existence and now the eldest of the six cousins to have witnessed. What can be more painful to the eyes than to see no more of the person who had promised to visit you? All the medals and trophies which I wanted to show him still enhance the beauty of the living room but have lost their true sheen. Day after day as I look at his photograph, it becomes all the more difficult for me to gather myself. Only tears have the power to reveal how weak you are emotionally even if you pretend to be unaffected in front of others.
I ask, why this game of life and death?
The rains have started beating down on my window pane as though they have an answer to my question, to the question of many others who think they are creatures derided by fate; who feel they are mere puppets in the hands of someone who can control every action of theirs according to his own whims and fancies. As one question leads to another, it seems there is no end to this session of questions and answers. The more I get trapped into this complicated web, the more I feel like discarding it behind and marching ahead.
All my tears after an hour of crying or so have nearly dried. Outside, the clouds have melted into rains and the sky is finally clear as though with a new lease of life. Strangely enough, the same rain has two very contrasting features-sometimes it makes you weep and sometimes it sweeps away all your melancholy. Just as the rain does its duty, is it best to quietly obey the laws of Nature?
Who can say?