And there she stood, on the busiest street of the city….oblivious to her surroundings or where her feet were dragging her to.
A lost look in the eyes….she followed the trail of unknown people. Within minutes, she was facing the sea. Not a single motion in the eyes, the frown didn’t leave those brows. She ran towards the shore and sat right where the waves were touching the sand, teasing it, and running back into the sea.
She looked at the sky, hoping for an inkling of a downpour. But there seemed to be none. “Damn! Where is the rain when i need it the most….” she thought. She wanted it to rain….to rain so hard that no one could see she was crying…on the inside….and now as she sat there and the heaviness just engulfed her whole being, she was crying on the outside too. Clutching on to the sand, looking at the waves, listening to the noise the water made when it slapped against the rocks….she wanted the damn rain to pour in the vain hope that it might wash away the doubts…the fears….she heard a gut wrenching cry escaping her mouth.
In that moment, the only scene that existed in front of her eyes was the setting sun and her pain which was now visible to the onlookers as well. But nothing was able to stop her from crying. She tried muffling her cry, but it only came out much louder. Then she sat there defeated of all the efforts she had made in the last few months to not let the tears escape her eyes…and she cried. She cried hard. And while she did so, she went back to thinking about how it all began…..
She was quite young when she met him. Atleast that’s how she remembered it. He was cute. Always had a thoughtful look on his face. She used to sit with him and talk to him for hours…mostly about nothing in particular. She loved to touch his hair. It was soft.
She remembered the first time she felt shy in his presence. It was when she was dancing on the terrace, to the tune of the rain, with such gay abandon….and when she did suddenly notice him standing at the entrance, watching her and slowly smiling…she felt her cheeks blush and quickly ran inside, not daring to glance back!
In time she learnt to confide in him about her likes and dislikes…about everything and yet nothing in particular. He used to tell her stories from his past…as many as he could remember. The best times they spent were in the afternoon, sitting under the shade of a coconut tree and watching the people pass by.
There were times when they disagreed. Of course there were. He was the kind to yell and disagree…she was one to rush into another room to make sure her tears weren’t visible. But he was always the one to initiate the talk to end the fight. After a few if’s and but’s, both of them used to be pally again.
It wasn’t easy when she learnt of his illness. She knew that something was wrong…but she didn’t expect it to weaken him in a way she hadn’t seen him before. She started spending more time with him, to make sure he wouldn’t suddenly disappear into oblivion.
The constant ups and downs of his condition didn’t help the situation. Every time something went wrong, she’d forget how to breathe…and when it got a little better, she clutched on to hopes even tighter. She’d count every breath he took when she held his hand every night before sleeping and pray that she was able to do at least the same thing the next morning.
There was this one night when he seemed uneasy and unable to speak and kept staring at the same spot as if he saw something or someone there. She realised something was wrong and asked him to answer by blinking once to say “no” and twice to say “yes” to what she was about to ask. “Do you feel unable to move your eyes away from the spot?” He blinked once. “Okay….is there something important you see there?”. He blinked twice. “Is it something i know of?” He blinked once. “Are you perhaps imagining something?” He blinked once. She felt hesitant asking the next question, but it was the most of any kind of conversation she was having with him in days. “Do you see someone there?” He blinked twice. She felt a chill run through her spine, knowing they were the only two people in that room at that time…and considering he was staring at a spot on a wall, she looked in the same direction rather timidly and was relieved to see nothing but just a blank wall. She told him not to look in that direction and held his hand while he fell asleep.
The next day ran as usual, with her changing his bed, giving him his medicines, and checking on him every hour. She was attending a call in the evening when suddenly she heard the maid say “I think he’s not breathing!”. Her heart skipped a beat as she ran into the room, only to see him lying motionless. But he has been like this for days she told herself. He needs help to move even an inch. Let me try and move him. She tried. He didn’t moan like he used to when he was being moved. He didn’t roll his eyes at her. He just lay there.
The next thing she knew was that she was trying hard to gulp in some air while her mother tried to make her drink some water. How was she supposed to face that he wasn’t with her anymore. How was she supposed to imagine walking into that house and not see him there. She could hear loud cries from the room where his body was. She asked to be left alone for a minute. She asked her mother to go inside and be with the rest of the people. Then she sat down on the floor feeling defeated. She felt cheated by the gods above. She took a few minutes to digest what she saw. Then she quickly reprimanded and reminded herself that she was not the only one who had lost someone that evening. The whole family crying inside had lost someone important in their lives.
She got up and walked back into the room and went straight to her grandmother who was sitting next to his body, pretty much motionless like him. She stood next to her grandmother for support. After all, he was her “Thatha” (grandfather),but was husband to her grandmother forever.
After the funeral when the whole family sat together and was fondly remembering him, she mentioned the incident of that night when he signalled that he saw someone in the room. Her grandmother told her that it was a popular belief, that people tend to see the angels of death very close to their time of departure. Apparently the angels were there to take the soul of the departed to the heaven and make it easier for the soul to leave their loved ones behind. She wasn’t sure she wanted to believe it…but then, if the angels were there to make the journey easier for her Thatha, she just hoped that’s what had happened.
Not a day goes by when she wishes she was in the room when he took his last breath. It didn’t matter that she walked out of the room to attend a phone call 5 minutes before he decided to depart. Even though the thought of it stings and hurts, she still wishes she had the chance to say goodbye.
It had been a year today, and she couldn’t help but recall. She got up, dusted her clothes to remove any evidence of the sand from the shore, and started walking back home with the image of the moon reflecting in the face of the sea behind her.
In loving memory of my thatha. I love you and i miss you. Words will never be enough to describe how much.