Dear Naniji

Sunday, Apr 8, 2018

It was a book-perfect place in the verandah beyond the doorstep of your old little place in Lower Parel, listening to the stories you would tell us, making clay figures with all the children there, and laughing at the little things you’d get happy over. The little me would wonder what a single visit from us had that you craved so much, no one else would get so very delighted. Time went by and we were able to surprise more than you would surprise us. Your awe over things coming alive that you had heard in tales, was a reminder of all the wonder in things that we took for granted. We had drifted apart slowly, with me being apparently too busy to spare time to visit often.

You recently suffered injuries that your body couldn’t mend by itself at this age. Mother had become anxious, and I could only guess that something was wrong. Every one of us came to you then. Your breathing was irregular. You were even less conscious than last time. But we selfishly wanted you to be with us, despite the all the pain you had to bear.

The sun was setting, hope was beginning to fade.

But after a long while, you could see us and were normal, and the obscurities of daily life again began to cloud in on me. I turned to return, but on the way took a step back, wondering if there was a grave possibility. And I went home to take care of other things, I was relieved to learn after a while that mother was coming back for me as well, being assured. I carried on in what I thought would be just another weekday of the month.

But it wasn’t. I was wrong. Mother wasn’t returning. You weren’t able to make it.

I no longer knew what I was experiencing; whether I felt trapped in the house or felt the night closing in. Thoughts were in a tumult. Running all the way to catch a late night train alone, in a near-empty carriage, somehow I couldn’t care less. Walking the sparse streets to a place where I had only ever gone before this day in anticipation of talks, now all there left was dread.

People outside were watching when I arrived, as I entered the building. More looked up on reaching the flat, and I wanted to wait forever before entering. Everyone was there, but I couldn’t see them just yet. Your beautiful form wasn’t moving. You almost looked asleep. The warmth had left you, your touch was slack. I missed the sound of your voice. It was quite everywhere, all the outbursts must have subsided before I reached. But I could see that staunch people had broken down that I had never dreamt I would see. Like a coward, I envied my siblings who were too far away. Tried to reassure myself and others it would be alright.

Those last duties to you had to be done, and you had to be taken away from us. It was a long wait for them to return to us, whence we left for home. As was custom to drench oneself for cleansing, it felt ironic while being dehydrated. It all seemed like a dream, but there was no waking. You wouldn’t be there to talk to on the phone anymore.

But in this age of criticism and complaining, I had seen everyone present there for you, and felt what the previous generation had that we could only aspire to imbibe; I saw what it really meant to be selfless; helping, not thinking about yourself, not caring about the after-effects of doing what is right. People were, just good at heart.

I am thankful to you for staying with me until now, and lastly preparing a weak-hearted soul like myself for the feelings of loss; if thestrals existed, I would be able to see them now. With grief as a purger of feelings, I’m now able to assimilate all the pure happiness I never knew I had. I’m happy that your children got to be with you for so long in the fabric of spacetime. But with no conceivable way of my present future self to communicate with you, I shall always keep you in my memories of the past.