This boy talks about the first time he faces death – the first time he loses someone to an inevitable reality.*
Most people cannot imagine their childhood without their parents – I could not imagine mine without my grandparents. They played an extremely important role in my life. It was them understood me when no one else did. They were my strong pillars of support who somehow managed to get me everything that I ever wanted, even before I asked for it.
I was 21 when my grandfather expired. Even today, the sight of him on the stretcher, covered in complete white and with cotton in his nostrils – freaks me out. I get nightmares over it – my entire body convulses into fits of sheer, raw pain. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that he would leave me one day. It was something that I had to control over. I knew he was going to go away one day and I would be able to do nothing about it. I stood there motionless. There wasn’t much difference between me and him.
People came from all over India to bid him adieu. Some people came just to scream and cry. I wonder how people could possess such dramatic skills even in the event of death. Often the most silent ones, go through maximum pain. I didn’t know if I could have stopped my grandfather from getting a stroke by taking better care of him. Or if it would have made a difference to take him to another hospital. But there it was. The reality staring at me in the face showing me how weak I was. And how helpless.
How can life be so cruel? That same hand that held mine when I could barely walk was turning into ashes inside the electric chimney. I could do nothing to prevent him from getting burnt. I stood there with my family, in complete shock. His eyes – hazelnut grey eyes – kept flashing in my mind. His smile and his love for sweets played in my mind like a film. My life would never be the same – how could it be the same without him? Shit. Shit. He is gone!
It took me two years – maybe I am still not over it. Do you know what helped me cope with his death? It was those stories that he told me when I was a toddler. He told me that when people die, it doesn’t mean that something is ending. It means that something is about to begin. He used to tell me to imagine that Earth was a planet in the journey to different planets. That maybe aliens were us. Just on another planet with more wisdom. That is how I coped up with his death. I was relieved that he was no longer a part of this world and he was in a place much better than this. That death, was a promotion.
In his memory, I would often go out eating ice creams, chocolates and sweet things which I didn’t like so much. I would go to his favourite places, I would watch his favourite films and listen to his favourite songs. I never participated in any ritual because I knew that if something would give him peace, it would be the fact that I was trying to be happy, even after him.
In spite of being a lover of science and logic, you will still find me, sitting alone at night by my window and staring at the stars wondering if he was on one of them. If he was watching me. If I will ever be able to see him again…
*This is a work of fiction, loosely based on true events.