Saturday, January 23, 2010

In Loving Memory

The battle is over. The dust has settled. And for the first time in several months, I finally am drenched in nothingness. An eerie peace. Numb and empty.

Even the brutal tug-of-war has been paused for now. And both rival teams have come together for once. The cacophony having ebbed, how new it seems to hear the quiet of the dusk and the chirping birds of the dawn. How long has it been since we looked up at the wheels of time spinning around us. For at least these few moments, I hope we take in the gravity of life and connect with that trace of clarity which begs the question, "What are we fighting for?"

But I sit reminiscing on my memories of you. Traversing through the winding roads of my childhood, I can't locate a single memory of you denying me something. Nor can I remember your eyes casting the slightest bit of reproach or frown at me. Your eyes have shone only with love and kindness, and your words have held nothing but appreciation and encouragement for me. When the unruly side of me has snapped at you to question your superstitions, I never understood why you chose to just chuckle softly. As a rebellious teenager when I have raged at your protectiveness and cried out for freedom, I'm now touched at how you continued to unfailingly totter up and down the streets waiting for me to come back home. You have now made me realize how petty I was to have not paid heed to your unconditional love.

I cherish my last memory of you - just about six months back, when you pulled yourself up and inched on your wobbling limbs to show me a rusted suitcase full of our childhood souvenirs, meticulously wrapped and carefully preserved; priceless photographs, forgotten toys, and carelessly strewn certificates. And the feeling still rises in my throat, a mix of frustration, amusement and love when you showed me all my little gifts to you sitting unused and untouched, but carefully wrapped up in your soft dhoti, suffused with moth balls. And your earnest reason? You considered them far too precious to be used, wary that they would be lost, get old with use, or be broken. I know I will never find anyone else to treasure my pittance of gifts the way you did. I was no doubt your pampered princess. But despite being one of your pampered pets, and having seen you rush to my aid every time I've slipped, here I was helpless in another continent when you slurred my name countless times and wished to see me. These pangs of guilt will wane only with time.

I cannot fathom that I will never see your smiling face again, with your puffy snow-white hair, your forehead religiously smeared with white streaks of vibhuthi, your petite frame donning an impeccably bright white shirt and dhoti, diligently washed even when your wrists shook uncontrollably. In such a light of pure flawless white, you stand in my memory with not a shred of malevolence. Having led a selfless, austere life, having been immensely generous, timid, and naive at handling life's numerous twists, having constantly sought acceptance and love, and having undergone much pain all these months, my sincere prayers that you finally find peace. And I will deeply miss all your wonderful little pampering and loving ways, thatha.

8 comments:

vikraman said...

I'm sorry your grandfather is no more. I know you liked this thatha very much(amma's dad right?)
I felt bad when i lost my thatha too last year, he used to tell me his experiences of working under a British officer. But then life has to move on.

Srishti said...

I'm truly sorry da... a wonderful tribute to ur thatha... Loved ones are never really gone... (i know its kinda empty words but sumwhat true...) ... be strong da...

SecondSight said...

Absolutely beautiful.. If these words could be wrapped up and cherished as closely as those long-ago gifts, I'm sure it's been done by now.
(Like Harry Potter ;)), I believe the ones that love you so unconditionally never truly leave you.. they're always there to give you strength when you need it.

Neeraja said...

Vikraman, Srishti, SecondSight - Thank you so much for your consoling words.
Vikraman, sorry about your thatha as well.

Leena said...

what a beautiful story about your thatha. i feel the same, as my grandfather passed away a short time ago from cancer. you never truly appreciate all their actions and words til you reflect on them. thanks for sharing.

Neeraja said...

Leena, thanks for your empathy. I'm sorry about your grandfather too. Very true, we never realize many things in life till it's too late.

SUMI said...

beautifully written! moved me!
so sorry about your thaatha. RIP to him!

Neeraja said...

Thanks a lot Sumi.