Friday, 14 August 2009

A Farewell of its kind

"I'm leaving alone for the journey. Babu, will board me on the way at his station , and I'll leave from there.", My Grandpa declared. How can you go alone? You aren't strong enough to travel alone to such places. Moreover one of us could come with you to assist you . Once the medical checkup is done , you'll be in better condition. Though they pleaded, my grandpa was adamant on his decision. He wanted to leave alone. I knew for sure , if he leaves he is not coming back, and I guess all of us knew. Good riddance , many thought.

It was still two days before I was supposed to go with him and leave him to the nearest station. I was up on building's roof, contemplating my childhood, its delicacies and mist shrouded memories. Suddenly there was a vibration in one of the creeper plant and I looked down below for the reason. Grandpa was cutting that out. Why ? I shouted at the top of my voice, to be audible to him,"Why are you cutting this up?". He smiled, but didn't reply. He went ahead with his sturdy blows on the stems of the plant. I remember this plant since I was born. It had always been there. I used to hide behind it to read my comics or to eat some stolen delicacies. All along , I had seen how much grandpa cared for it . He watered it daily and nurtured it with great love and care. But now he was cutting it up. May be he didn't want to leave behind his trace. It was cruel on his part though.

There used to be a house beside my grandpa's house, but I suddenly I realized that its been bulldozed. We used to play hide and seek inside that house. And sometimes the game of number of hidden lines. What was this game? Ah! I vaguely remember it. Each party was allocated its area in the house and they were to draw lines in those regions in surreptitious spots . Now after a stipulated time, when each party got exhausted of drawing lines at unimaginable locations, each party would search for others lines and each searched line would be crossed. The party that had most uncrossed lines won.
It was a slow game but very innovative, especially in selecting the spots where the lines were drawn. But I find that house non-existent in front of me now. "where is that house gone?", I shouted from the roof to Grandpa. He was busy cutting the plant, however, he glanced up at me and still said nothing.

That house belonged to Dasrath Mishra,who supposedly was 10 brothers and he being last one was named so. Two of his other brothers were in the same colony and I used to play with their sons. I used to hate him ,mostly because, I had to fetch him water from hand pump , each time he came, and he came twice or thrice in a day. And moreover, his thirst never slaked with one glass of water. How big his tummy was! In order to wheedle me to get water for him , he used to say, "Whenever you bring the water for me, it tastes sweet". I knew he was flattering me, but he repeated this every time and thus once I thought may be there was truth in it. So once I consciously brought water from hand pump and instead of giving it to him, drank myself, it wasn't sweet. But next day he reported again that it was sweet. Hmm! I know now where the sweetness was. I heard few years back that he is dead! How all of a sudden that tummy vanished in thin air, taking with it all the mugs of water that I brought for him , although sulkily. That house infront was obliterated from the landscape and I kept on staring at that barren spot. How some things get wiped out of existence, but never from thoughts.

Suddenly there was loud noise of something falling. The creeper had given away. and besides that my grandpa stood, with sickle in his hand, and without any emotion on his face. He was obstinate.

Next day, was a bright Sunday and all of us were together at home. It was fun . We gossiped, bantered, played around. But my grandpa was silent. He kept looking in the infinity , to the road ahead. I looked into his eyes, they were misty, but not watery, The water inside must have had dried up. The lines that ran through his face marked the years traversed by him. It was long , long ,long back since I was in his arms, pissing or may be defecating at times. I don't remember him ever wincing at me for the same, with stoic indifference he used to clean up my clothes and spread them out. My mom! hated me for this , but my grandpa took over this task from her. I wished he would look at me now, he did, but flipped back with same speed.

Today we were supposed to leave. He would go to places of his liking , and I was supposed to leave him at a station around the town where I lived. He was all dressed and ready to go. He looked extraordinarily cheerful, the same , as if he was going for his first journey. I thought, it was his first journey, it would be his last as well. He was not coming back. After the usual show of tears and goodbyes, we left. He didn't even look back at the mansion that he had so fondly created and nurtured. He was looking in front.

We boarded train and took our seats. I was uncharacteristically reticent on that occasion. But he blabbered , as if to radiate his excitement. Then all of a sudden, he got quiet, looked at me and said. "How big you have grown up to be. I remember the time you were born, it was celebration all around, first grandchild in our house, and I was mad with joy. I still remember washing your clothes and how your loose motion went loose on that school bus.I still remember how much you liked rasgullas. But you have grown up now, you have to carry on from here, taking the world in your stride and face everything on your own. No way is your way, your way is your way. Conviction in that will see you through , and you will grow things , create them and one day leave them all , behind. That is how this cycle is." He had never been never so philosophical, it was first time I heard something of that sort from his mouth. He moved though with that philosophy and I couldn't trace it at all. How subtle is the role of philosophy in everyone's life, unobtrusive at times, but never absent.

Anyways I started to feel a pang of separation now. All those years of acquaintance cannot go in one flash. But I gathered myself up and smiled. That was the best i could do for him. But I felt the need to do more. His cash would exhaust pretty soon and then he would have nowhere to ask for it. He wasn't taking any mobile phone with him as well. I decided to slip in my debit card with its PIN into his satchel and furtively did it. He would be safe with that.

We reached onto the station and I was supposed to board him into the next train and leave for my home. I didn't feel like doing it however. The pain was now welling up in eyes as well. How all of a sudden the acquaintance of years was to get blank in a flash. It seemed impossible to me. But he didn't have any sign of melancholy on his face, as if he has found a treasure and was perpetually content now. Reluctantly I helped him board next train and came out. He stood at the gate of the bogey. The figure frail yet determined. Old yet ungiving, hands trembling yet grasping firmly . I touched his foot for the last time, and as I touched it in entirety, something unexplained flowed from those feet and I covered it with all reverence. Train whistled and signaled its intention to leave , I started crying loudly now, at which he held my face up, and shouted, "Be bold, firm, and fear none", and placed his gentle hands on my head . And as the train was about to leave he handed me a bag. A gift for me , perhaps.

And the train left and with itself, took him as well. He was non-existent now, I would never see him again, but I was to be bold and I washed up my tears. Its the rule of world maybe. I remembered the bag he had given to me. I couldn't wait to see my gift. Things that he had left for me were, ,my ATM card with its PIN, and along with it a 500 rs. note that he had left for me to eat rasogullas and flood of tears in my eyes.


Niyaa said...

oh my.. it was very very very touching.. tell me if it is true

chandan said...

wow..That's awesome..!!