I never thought I could be like this. Never thought that someday, someone would leave, only to never comeback and leave me shattered. I’ve been left by many people in my life, always been the one who’s been at life’s lows and been dogged to the point of emotional damage by the very people I’ve loved more than me. It’s never too late to realize they say..never too late to know that somehow, somewhere down the line you’ve ignored the people who’ve been with you all your life and been there for you,shouldering your back, making sure you stay up. These people are the ones whom we never even take measures or pains to make happy on a regular basis, because somewhere,somehow..we know they wouldn’t mind that..Even if they did, they won’t say it.

 

Family. Funny word this. Be-seethes the inner sanctum of the people in your life, but pray put a hand on your heart and tell me, asking yourself whom this inner sanctum really defines. Is it the people we can’t live without ? or is the people who’ve been with us all our lives.

 

It’s never easy to bid a relation goodbye for an emotional man like me. I’ve been back stabbed, cheated, hurt, driven to the point of desperation, torn apart, left in my desolation..but never by my family. Even when I was in the lowest point in my life, I knew I had a group of men and women looking over me. A group that has grown less by one and twos in the last many few days. And they all said they’ve gone to a better place.

I’ve been raised by a group of two, who raised my own mother, until I was three, at my ancestral place.There was a code of a working woman, and an alarmed mother when she one day came home to discover that the aaya she had brought over her own child and was making him drink the share of milk she was supposed to give to me. Two days and an aaya later, I sat in my mother’s lap, looking at the trees dwindling by trying to make whatever sense a one year old could make, but not crying for a moment as the big bad world seems helpless against the arms she held me in.

We got off at a rather huge estate, one of the many in the locality as I would discover later, but the place and the smells were none like the small home we three lived in. On the streets ran weird creatures with horns, on the roofs were big black man faced aliens with furs and tails, and there was a man outside the home, feeding some four legged creatures who were increasingly defiant on licking his face off.

This is when I first saw my grandfather, a man whom I had grown to worship,admire and wrench-fully watch him wither with pain on a hospital bed in the later years of my life.

He took me in, a little too harshly for my doting grandmother, who prominently named me “Bony” for my skinny appearance and she has bequeathed a task on herself to ensure that I never went hungry from the time I woke up to the time I slept. Once a mother, always a mother they say. And now to watch her, ensure that she feeds herself..That is something a grandson should never have to watch.

My grandfather was a astute disciplinary man but he had his softness too. He’s thrill me with his stories everynight before I slept and make theatrics to ensure he always had me smiling. He didn’t have the feet or the back to be my horse but he ensured that I had my rides with him everyday. He’d take me places in his little town of Khambhat and talk to me. Talk about it’s history, talk about what he’d done there as a kid, talked about whatever he could, even though I did not understand a single word he said, but there it was, the bond of a man and his grandson. He had engaged in my life so easily that I never felt that my mother and my father were never there until on weekends.

He never really talked about his past, and I until reached an age where I could logically reason, never asked him about it. Upon asking, a shot of pain ran though his face and he would simply refuse to have a word on the subject, and I rather than the fear of him feeling the pain than his stick, once sneaked upon my grandmother to question about her the same. The story she told me, makes me cry still, even as a grown man.

My grandfather, was an orphan. I never knew the word nor the gravity until a long time. My grandmother told me that how my great grandfather had marched with the people of India shouting “Vande Mataram” when he was riddled by lashes and lathis by the British rulers of India. He breathed his last in a cell where he paid the ultimate price for his country, dying in the filth and muck like amongst the hundreds. My great grandmother, a patient of tuberculosis leaving my grandfather at the age of twelve to fend for himself. His maternal aunt took him in. And another hell began for my him. He slaved day and night for three years for them, doing their housework,taking care of their needs, not like a blood relationship, but a mere servant. He ran away one night, leaving it all behind, in hope that it would never follow. And it never did.

My grandfather was nor a hero, nor a billionaire, nor a famous man. He was man who merely worked in a saree shop for the lack of better knowledge, but the way he taught me about life, imbibed in me the qualities he so fiercely followed in his life. Until he could, he spent his days working behind the counter, fending for himself and grandmother, for he never chose to live with his sons.

And somehow as I grew up, his importance in my life was reduced to the customary sunday phonecall and the summer visits to their place. He had only grown more broody and wrinkly I thought every time I looked at him and now I realize that he must have looked at me and be saddened about the fact that his grandson was no longer the one he bought up with so much love and care.

I regret the fact that I didn’t have enough time to thank him, to repay him, to care for him, the same way he had once done for me. I’m sorry grandpa for all the times I refused to talk to you, didn’t think so high of you, never came to visit you like you wanted and I’m sorry for giving other relationships more importance than ours. I miss you. And I’ll always love you bald old wrinkly man.

 

Epilogue:

I’ve never cried a single tear, since the time I last saw you on the hospital bed, nor when I carried you away. And yet today, I am sitting in a train full of strangers, writing this, for my words are my grief, there comes a old man, withered, wrinkly and a tuft of white hair on his head, just like you were..And besides him is a kid of seven years maybe, holding his hand, scared of all the people around him. The man took his hand in his and pressed it. The kid looked up to him and smiled, knowing that he was going to be just fine and that he has his grandfather to look after him. They looked around to find their seats and the kid pointed out to the ones besides me. They sat besides me, him smilingly acknowledging me. They sat with me watching them with glistening eyes, and the kid held his grandfather’s hand and whispered ” I love you nanu” and to the man replied ” I love you too son”

I didn’t cry a single tear since the two days.

 

Not until then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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