Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 12/366

One can often try and be dishonest with themselves to make themselves believe that a reality wasn't as it seemed to be. While most people try and avoid reality by escaping into dreams, a time comes when you just struggle to escape back into reality to feel grounded. When I lost my maternal and paternal grandfathers in a short span of 8 months, I starting understanding what being an escapist feels like. I was struggling with myself to try and make it all go away, like it never happened. But it had. And while I was glad that they were in a 'better place' where their sufferings had ended, I couldn't help but feel the loss of familiarity when it happened.

Last December, I was back home in Calcutta doing my internship and loving the time away from the never-ending work flow of college submissions and tests. But without anyone seeing it coming, my paternal grandfather fell very ill one day. We rushed him to the hospital, a place I cannot stand the smell of for it is too often the smell of lost hope. We knew that it was just a matter of hours. That night, he breathed his last. The tears made me feel vulnerable but I let them flow out to let him know that he would be remembered. After all, he was the one who told us about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, bought us firecrackers on Diwali, and took us to the Book Fair at the Maidan when we were kids.

Soon after, I went back to college and life resumed it usual pace. I realized that this process of going back to normalcy and forgetting about the gravity of the loss always happens to me when someone I feel close to passes away. The cycle seems to be one that never will quite go away. The loss made me want to at least make the time I have left with loved ones special. So every Sunday, I talk to both my grandmothers at some time in the day and update them on my lives and prod them to tell me 'exciting' details of their old age. Those two calls are usually enough to make my Sunday complete.

Another reverie comes to mind when I think about the weekly phone calls: When I used to call up my maternal grandmother, she would often give the phone to Nanaji, who would ask me the same set of questions each time, almost always in the exact same manner. He would call me 'Chotu' and ask me about my health, how the food was where I was staying, and if I was eating enough. He would also ask me if I wanted anything from home that he could have sent across and I would always politely say 'No' each time. After this, he would give the phone back to Nanima and after saying bye, I would hang up. I have neither gotten bored of answering the same questions nor do these calls fail to make me smile.

I will always remember Nanaji in his white kurta and dhoti with some or the other vintage hat on. I will always remember him calling the maali up from the garden and telling him to pluck out kamrak (star-fruit) and baby tomatoes  for me to enjoy. I will always remember his love for old Hindi movies that came on TV, though he often fell asleep while watching them. The idea of him dozing off watching a boy and girl run around a tree only amuses me and makes me love him more.

When my mother called me and told me that he had passed away, I cried inconsolably. What was worse was that because of something as trivial as college attendance, I could not fly down to be home to console my grandmother, to hold my mother's hand, or to be consoled myself. All I could do then was to go to a temple near my house and pray for his soul to rest in peace. Nothing else could be done given the situation. People did say that as long as I remembered the good memories, he would be happy and know that I loved him. Still, it was the worst feeling to be away from the reality of what had happened.

Both these incidents have made me see life in a different light. We have to really live while we're alive and do all it takes to be remembered for the right reasons. We can't know for sure what God has in store for us or if he even exists. Old age will definitely arrive (if you're lucky to be alive till then) and to age beautifully should be a living dream.


  1. Personally, my dad wasn't lucky to see his old age. When he passed away, I was more out of control for being rageful towards GOD (if HE exists) But then learned to be more in control as an adult around friends/family etc though i still wanted to rage. The flooding of anger, depression and confusion, all of it until i finally fell apart (Reality)I wish I could tell my Dad how much I miss him. I don't understand what life is all about when you have to lose the ones you love the most.
    Anyways, a heart touching blog. Trust me, it's the best blog till now and gonna be in future as well. Again, nicely written.

  2. made me cry.
    and promise that i will spend and enjoy more with my dadas and nana :)
    keep writing like you do!