I called Pintu the other day. I wanted to just talk about the usual stuff like, “how are you?; how’s the weather?; what did you eat?; what are mom & dad doing? etc. He told he was at our aunt’s place and that he has something serious to tell. I immediately thought that it was about some marriage proposal for me that my relatives might have suggested to my parents, or something similar and life-altering. And so, to lighten the mood I jokingly asked if everybody was alive, coz if they are, everything’s alright, right?
My poor brother, usually the master of subtlety, just bluntly replied to my question: “No”. I don’t think my heart or even my brain wanted to let that information sink in, I didn’t know what to say or ask. I just stuttered, “what?…who?”
“Thatha”. “Bhaskar Rao thatha.”
I was at the railway station to get to work. I got onto the train and sat on a seat right next to the door. Right after my brother said those words, there were tears trickling down my cheeks that I did not try to control or stop. I just kept saying that it was not fair and that I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him, and that I even bought a gift for him that I was (and still am) sure that he would have loved, and I cried while talking. I was well aware of the fact that I was in a public place, there might be people watching. But at that point, I only wished someone was caring and daring enough to come offer me a hug and say nothing. I wanted to call someone/anyone to share my pain. I didn’t know whom to call or talk to, as you are just not expected to share your sadness or pain as openly as you would be expected to share happiness; even with close friends sometimes. I just didn’t want to make them uncomfortable or maybe it was just that I knew they would have nothing to say that could console my heart. My chest felt too tight and I felt lonely on a train full of people, all strangers.
I tried calling the restaurant to see if they could arrange for anybody else to cover my shift. But it was too late; at least two hours notice is required for them to be able to arrange for someone else. Meanwhile, I also called my dad asking why he didn’t tell me. I wanted to go home right that second, not the week after. My dad’s response to that was, “…and do what?”; And just like that, the reality of the situation struck me: it has happened; I’m helpless and my thatha was forever gone. The cremation was already done and his ashes would be sprinkled in some religiously significant river, symbolically trying to portray that he is now one with nature…omnipresent.
So, I showed up at work and did not tell anybody anything. I was just focusing on doing my job and not crying. I felt exhausted already and confused as to how to behave in that particular situation. After two hours of consciously practicing numbness, two hours that lasted a little too long, two hours of noticing everything that’s around me that hasn’t been affected to the slightest bit by what I just found out, I only had one thought in my head: “Life goes on as if nothing changed, as if nothing too great was lost and that cannot be right.”
When I could take it no more I told I’d like to leave an hour early. It took just an “Are you ok?” for me to let it all go and weep. Immediately one, two, three bodies of warmth and sympathy engulfed me. I felt blessed that even so far away from home, I had people to lean on too, even if it is but for a few minutes. Later, that night by the time I got home (well, just a room that I think I belong to, temporarily), I did not cry as much as I’d have liked. It was as if my body and mind subconsciously believed that he was now in a better place, with his wife and kids, a lot less bothered by the trivial happenings of the mortal life. My heart was still taking time though.
In the next few days, I wept when I was alone or when a random thought and the consequent realization of his absence hit me – just for a few minutes and then I’m back to carrying on as if nothing happened. *sigh*
I just wish I had one last chance of hugging him and showing off that I’m all grown up and independent just like he wanted me to be. I wanted to see him wear and flaunt the fluffy black bathrobe I got him. And finally, I wish he passed away in his sleep peacefully, without knowing any pain as opposed to a sudden stroke that was in every way least expected.
I think I want to get a tattoo in his memory. My thatha, our (me and my brother) only grandparent figure whose love never diminished with other grandkids adding to the list, who loved us, believed in us and was proud of us even when we didn’t even achieve anything extraordinary. He took us to the nearest store to buy us chocolates or ice-cream even when we thought we were too old for it. And I absolutely hate that I’m writing about him in past tense now.
That’s it for now. I just had to let it all out. Thank you for always being my listening wall and letting me cry.
When I first created this blog, I wanted it to be filled with only good and happy stories. Unfortunately, that’s not how life is and so I’d like to not restrict my writings anymore. This was a diary entry that I wanted to share with the world. Please do comment if you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences.