Archive for category Sad

Rest in peace

Two little red birds waddle around in our backyard day after day, pecking little bits of food. They fly away every now and then only to return to this place we call home. They have many companions – the blue bird that visits, the woodpecker that nests around here somewhere, the sparrows, and more from their own family of red cardinals – and all of them play merrily, twittering along sweetly. I have spent many mornings, afternoons and evenings listening to them chirp cheerfully as I relaxed at home.

But today things have changed…

As I woke up and came downstairs, I saw Amma, looking very sad, sitting on the couch and gazing out the window. I asked her what happened, while several reasons started running through my mind right after I’d spotted her gloomy expression. She pointed out and said

They fell from the sky and died immediately. I don’t know what happened… but I saw one come down with a great speed and hit the ground, and the next one followed. They haven’t moved since then. It was a heartbreaking sight, I can’t get over it.

There they lay, the two of them, in our backyard, motionless. My heart skipped a beat. Amma’s forlorn feeling spread over to me as both of us stood there surveying the dreadful sight. I emailed K and told them what I’d seen. He was shocked, to say the least. We’re now waiting for him to come home and do a proper burial for them.

We don’t know what happened, we don’t know why you did what you did (Amma seems to think you are lovers), but we hope you rest in peace, little ones. Be happy, wherever you are. And know that your presence in this world was treasured by us.

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Full house

I hear a lot of noise coming from downstairs as I open the bedroom door. What’s all the hullabaloo about? I thought Amma was alone down there. The partner bid me goodbye to go to work, so he’s definitely not home now. Maybe she’s on the phone; in that case, how am I able to listen to the whole conversation? She never uses the speaker mode. Perhaps someone has called her on Skype. That must be it because only yesterday she learned some of the functions and I bet she’s already using it. Still, where’s all the different voices coming from? How many people is she talking to?

I walk down and first lay my eyes on Amma’s Uncle and Aunt. When did they get here? I wonder if they are mad at me for not chatting with them properly the last time they were on Skype with Amma. I was pre-occupied with something else when they’d called and I appeared in front of the camera once to fix some issue Amma was having. I only said hello before letting them continue their chitchat with Amma. I hope they won’t drill me about why I disappeared so quickly.

I greet them with a smile. They smile back and ask me how I am. I tell them I am fine and go into the living room to ask them further about when they got here, if they are tired after their journey, etc. It’s a pleasant surprise, their visit to my place all of a sudden. Maybe because Amma is here; she may have invited them over and forgotten to mention it to me. It’s all good, they are here and let’s hope they have a good time.

My sisters and my father are here too. What? How come no one brought any of this up when they talked to me? Appa being here is a shock, actually. I wouldn’t, even in my wildest dreams, imagine my father ever standing in my living room. What am I missing here? He seems comfortable. I wasn’t expecting the day to turn out to be anything like this when I woke up this morning. Am I dead? Is this heaven? I have so many questions, all for my mother. Where is she?

Wait a minute… this voice that I am hearing right now, who is it? It sounds so familiar, yet so alien. A lot of memories come gushing. I know who it is, there’s no mistaking in this case. Who let him in? Appa? Amma, or even my sisters, sure as hell would never open the door for him. I haven’t heard his voice in so many years. I haven’t seen him in over a decade and half. I haven’t forgotten him, even though I haven’t been in touch with him all this time. It’s strange that he should be here. It could be that this is all in my mind. But is it? I can hear him, loud and clear. He’s singing; still as good at it as he used to be way back when. Should I go see for myself if he’s indeed here?

My heart is racing, but not in the way that I would have expected it to. Where is all that pent-up rage? Where are all those hidden tears? Isn’t that what I have always imagined would burst out whenever I bumped into him next – all those tears and all that rage? Then why is it so that all I feel is numbness, and also a sort of vague calmness? Weird. Why can’t I move? With only a few more steps I will be face to face with a man who was a Superhero to me once upon a time. Within a few seconds I will look into the eyes of the man who shattered the image that I’d built of him with that ignominious deed of his. Should I go? He’s here. In my house. Of course I should go talk to him. That’s good manners, right?

I wonder what I will do when our eyes meet. Will I, at that instant, turn into the happy ten year old I once was, always bristling with the excitement in his presence? Or will I somehow become that slightly older girl that waged a silent war against the devil that she found him to be? Will I merrily reminisce our mountainous happy past? Or will I focus on the one thing that went wrong, which to date affects me in the biggest of ways? Which side will I lean towards? Should I risk finding out? Sure, why not. Whatever may come next, he deserves it. I take careful steps, one after another. And there he is.

My Chittappa*.

He’s smiling, as he moves around singing and chopping some vegetables in the kitchen. Our eyes meet. And at this point I would’ve anticipated for the waterworks begin from my end. Alas, my eyes are still dry. He grins wide. I hear him call out the same nickname that he’s always used for me, probably since I was days old. He made up special names for all of us in the family. Nobody else uses that nickname to address me. Ever. It’s always only been him. So, at least now I know for sure that it’s really my Chittappa that’s standing in front of me. Not that I had an iota of doubt before; I could never mistake his voice or his charisma for anyone else’s. ‘We’ve all been waiting for you. It’s so nice to see you after all these years’, he says. And the doorbell rings.

Suddenly I remember that it’s time for the partner’s return. The fact that Amma missed even hinting about this family gathering to me has taken me by surprise. What about the partner? He doesn’t have a clue, just as I didn’t as I walked down the stairs only a while ago. This will doubtless be an enormous revelation to him. I run and go open the door, before someone else does, so I can ease him into it.

The partner walks in, and before I can say anything, he listens to the sound variety of conversations from every nook and corner of the house, that too in a language he barely comprehends, and smiles. He sure doesn’t know who all are here, but he has a hospitable heart, and with that he puts his backpack down and enters the living area to warmly welcome everyone with his gracious smile. My mind runs wild again, with another set of million questions. Where in the world is Amma?

Is Appa still here? What should I expect from him, if at all anything? I make up my mind to keep my hopes low, as always, and let things roll in their own accord. It’s better that way. It has always been. But it’s hard, so hard, I tell you. Before I can even think of relaxing my curious mind, I get my answer, though. Thanks to Appa, he does precisely what I’d foreseen him doing. But, no matter how much I’d apparently prepared for it, it still comes as a blow. Oh well, he never disappoints, does he? His staunch stubbornness delivers every single time. Sigh.

Look who’s walking towards us as Appa is leaving. Oh my goodness, I can’t even begin to conceive what would come out of Chittappa meeting the partner. Only months ago when I’d already hit rock bottom I found a way to dig a little deeper and fall further in, as I opened up and shared with the partner the tale of why my relationship with Chittappa was strained / why it fell apart. And now he’s going to meet that man from my past. What good can ever come out of this? I hope, against all odds, that the partner’s elephant memory fails him now. Or, at best, he reacts the same way I did, freeze. And he does, or should I say he acts as if he does, as I introduce him to Chittappa. I guess he doesn’t want any unwanted drama to ensue from their first encounter. But his eyes – look at those eyes – it’s full of fury. I can tell because it’s like seeing myself in the mirror and finding all that wrath hiding there, turning red all that was white before.

Tears trickle down my cheeks, now. My ire, my melancholy – I see it all in his eyes. A burden shared, is that what kept me composed all this time? I pull him aside, hug him, and let him wipe my tears. He plants a peck on my cheek and that’s enough melt away all the pain.

From that kiss stems a happy ending.

Tell me, should this be categorized a dream or a nightmare?

*Chittappa – father’s younger brother.

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Eerie silence envelops the surroundings. Memories of you rush past. I close my eyes. I see you; the way you were the last day we spent together. In your school uniform, sporting that trademark sweet smile of yours. I also see those tears appearing every time we realize how little time we have left together. And I also see sepia tinted pictures of you, those that you’d shared over the years, now buried at the back of my mind. Music plays in the background, your voice stolen, again, from the safe compartments of my mind. Silence succumbs and drowns in the sea of your thoughts.

I miss you.

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Feeling forlorn…

Feeling forlorn

the white

winter bloom

frowns

and withers…

 

Feeling forlorn

the fiery flame

burns out

and dies…

 

Feeling forlorn

the last snowflake

crumbles

And melts…

 

Feeling forlorn

the sparkle in her

writhes

And breathes its last breath.

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Dear Boston

My heart goes out to you, my beloved city. You are in my thoughts, today and always.

I love you. Stay safe.

boston

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A bittersweet memory…

It’s now over a decade since my grandfather (paternal) passed away. Everyone has their own memories to share when it comes to remembering Thatha. I hear from Paatti stories about what a sharp, intelligent mind he had. I hear from Appa about how staunch a supporter he was of education. I hear from other family members tales of how hardworking he was – what all he went through to come up in life, to build a family and to provide for all their needs. I hear from my sisters / cousins about what a great grandfather he was.

And I… I have one memory, and it’s bittersweet.

Unlike my relationship with my grandmother, my bond with my grandfather was never strong. For reasons unknown to anyone in the family, my grandfather and I got off on the wrong foot. No one remembers why or how, but my grandfather and I hardly ever spoke to each other. We didn’t grow apart; this wasn’t something that happened gradually with time… it’s been that way for as long as I remember. We lived under the same roof for over a decade, yet, the only conversations I remember having with him from back then involves either me inviting him after dinner table was set, or him letting me know that someone was looking for me, or me acting as a messenger, relaying a piece of info to him from someone, at the most.

Growing up alongside him for years together only strengthened my resolve to keep my distance. And it made me reason with myself and dig out theories as to why I didn’t take the initiative to get to know him better. While my sisters and cousins would merrily gather around him to hear him tell a story on a Sunday afternoon, I would go about doing chores. While the children in the family would run to hug him when he returned home after a trip, I would stand there and stare. While everyone in the family showed both respect and fear for the patriarch, I was merely indifferent. So, like I said, our relationship was complicated… or was it simple and straightforward? Depends on how one looks at it, I suppose.

The lack of interest in mending the broken bond (or, should I say, in creating a bond where nothing existed before) was mutual. It wasn’t just me who was unconcerned; he took the same stance. His affection for my sisters had no bounds. And they reciprocated. Perhaps he had the same warm grandfatherly feelings for me as well, but it never showed… when it came to me, he only got involved when requested and let me be otherwise. With time, both of us adapted to live comfortably in the our own cocoons without needing the other’s company, learning how to well hide any emotions – be it anger or fondness –  we may have felt for each other.

Years down the line, my father secured a job in a different city and we moved out. This only weakened what was left of the relationship. We grew farther apart. Some holidays were spent visiting the grandparents, and the excitement, for me, was only about meeting grandma, not grandpa. And it didn’t feel like I was missing much.

In the summer of 2000, we moved back to Madras and lived, temporarily, with the grandparents while my parents looked for a suitable residence near school. At this time, my grandfather’s health was deteriorating by the day. All his children and their families were around. Even with rising health issues, he managed to spend as much time as possible with his family. It was then that my affection for him surfaced a bit. I don’t really know if it was seeing a strong man like him bedridden or if something inside of me really changed, but grief overtook me the same way it did all others. And, hence, when the elders decided that it was better to let the children be elsewhere and not see their grandfather in that condition, I refused to go; and, left with no other option, my sisters and my cousin were sent away to spend a couple of days with my uncle and aunt, while I stayed back.

I can still remember that afternoon like it happened yesterday. I was in the terrace with my cousin when my uncle came rushing. He told us that the doctor was called as Thatha wasn’t responding all too well, and the doctor arrived only to give the news that Thatha’s organs were failing, one after the other. He doesn’t have much time, my uncle said, he wants to see you. I exchanged a gaze with my cousin and got ready to walk behind her to see what Thatha wanted her for. My uncle let out a cry – why are you staring at her? He wants to see you!, he said. And before I could totally grasp the fact that he was talking to me, I was rushed inside the house.

I sat by the bedside and waited for Thatha to open his eyes. My uncle leaned towards Thatha and whispered to him that I’d come. Thatha opened his eyes and put in all the efforts that he could to keep them open. He took my hand in his and with much difficulty spoke… I want to go for a walk; I want to go outside; will you please take me? he asked. I looked around and then at Thatha. I told him he wasn’t in a position to go out for now and that I would take him as soon as he got better. But this is as good as it’s going to get. It’s all downhill from here. And I have so much left to do. I have to get to the bank now. Let’s go, please, he pleaded again. I held his hand closer, gripped it tighter. The sight was nothing short of heartbreaking. How can the man as strong and as powerful as he be pleading to me? I controlled my tears as much as I could, but they refused to stay in. My eyes went blurry. I tried hard not to lose eye contact. I told him it was just a matter of time before he got better and I would take him right after the doctor gave me an ok. The next few minutes were spent with everyone around him trying to explain to him that everything can wait and that, right now, he needed to rest. But I want you to take me out. You’re the only one who I know will listen to me, he uttered and closed his eyes for one last time.

I cried. Those were the only few minutes of our lives that we spent in such closeness. To date, neither I nor anyone knows why Thatha asked to spend his last few minutes with me. When everyone – his children, his grandchildren (my elder cousins), his daughter-in-laws, his son-in-law, his doctor and most important of all, his wife – were all around him, why me? I don’t know and I never will. I’m just grateful that I got to spend that time with him. It’s those few precious moments that has given me a fond memory to last a lifetime and more.

Had he lived through his ailment and been around today, I don’t know where our relationship would stand. There are still things that I can’t look past or let go. And it is for that reason that I am unable to picture a perfect loving relationship with him. I might have taken steps to work out our differences. I might have opened up to him about what actions of his made me develop a cold front towards him. I might have given us a chance to reconcile. But none of that matters… All I have left is a memory, etched so deep in my mind, of the day I sat beside him, held his hands and, I hope, helped ease his pain a bit. And that thin ray of light brightens our relationship and aids in overlooking, if not forgetting and forgiving, the dark shadows that surround it.

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I wished you were here

Even though what I heard yesterday should’ve been one of the happiest news of my life, it brought only so much joy. Yes, I smiled as K uttered those very words that I’ve been waiting to hear for few years now. Yes, I was pleased to know that he was taking a step forward and was trying to build a life. Yes, I congratulated him wholeheartedly.

But my eyes filled with tears as I did all those.

I’ve always imagined how this day would come to be and never once did I see it without you in it. It was supposed to be your big news. How can I not have wondered how this would all be if you were here? How can I not have wished that you were here to live your dreams?

As crazy as it may sound, I still wake up some days thinking that whatever happened was just a nightmare. I can still picture you – the last time I saw you; the last talk we had; the last time I chat with you – everything. And yet, I can’t get my mind around the fact that those were the last times. I pray that you are just playing a cruel joke and that someday I will receive a call from you or see a mail from you telling me what you are up to. So, on days like those, news like this comes as a wake up call that it’s time to move on and that there’s no more hope.

Tell me then, how was I not supposed to feel a pang on my chest all the while feeling extremely glad as K makes this big leap? It was a confusing moment. And I wished you were here.

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