I was in 8th grade when I had to deal with death of a close one for the first time. She was not a close relative in terms of the way she was related to me. She was my grandmother’s sister in law, in simple words my granny. I say a closed one, because she lived next door, she was paralyzed completely below her neck, and with all the pain in the limbs she saw me grow up with a smile in her face, gave me the scolding when I deserved it, and praised me mouthful when I did something worth of the praise. As my both parents used to be at work, and I alone at home, I used to spend a lot of time talking to her, and she telling me many things. If I try to remember what it was she talked me about, I can’t put my finger on any topic, infact it looks a little strange the conversations a 12/13 year old could have had with a 60+ year women, who hasn’t left her bed long before even the boy crawled onto the earth. I don’t know what we spoke about, but just she sitting on her bed unable to move, and me sitting somewhere in the room, and she talking to me is what I remember.
One day when I was in 8th grade, it was a Saturday I came home in my white uniform, and I saw the symbolic fire in front of the house, and I really did not have to be told, and I was sure it would be her. I just walked up to my room in the first floor, there were many people at home, and emotions running high. My cousins crying, and me for some reason wanting to look cool without tears in my eyes, I knew I was about to cry but did not let the tears roll down, I was asked to go see the body, which was now all wrapped up, and all my aunts and cousins pushing me to go see her for the last time, I refused, point blank, I did not step out of my house. I still remember the reason I gave to them, I want her picture to stay the way I have known her, I don’t want that to change.
This was the first time in my life, I turned my back to Death, I chickened out in accepting the death.
When I was in 2nd grade my paternal grandfather passed away, I never realized what I missed, all I cared was, I was allowed to take off from school, my cousins too were at our old house, where once we all stayed together, that meant a lot of fun, and free time to play with them. Even today when I do something, and my paternal grandmother is proud of it, she never forgets to mention “nimma tata irbekittu ivattu”..[Your grandpa should have been there today], but the fact is i would never get to know what it would have felt, with him around.
I was in my 11th grade, in the middle of my teens, growing up, becoming a man, biologically as well as mentally, I was in my class when a guy who is vary farly related to us, and also studying in the same college as me, walked up to me in between classes and asked me to go to my maternal grandmother’s house immediately, my grandpa was not well. I was this studious person, you know, I never missed classes, nor did I that day, I waited till the lunch and then went to my granny’s house on my bicycle. The symbolic fire yet again in my life, in front of the house, My mother told me grandpa is no more, he had a cardiac arrest when he went to sell old newspaper off to the store. This time I had tears in my eyes, but again I refused to see the face, I lied to people who asked me if I did what I was supposed to do, as per the ritual take a round around the body and throw raw rice. I told them I did it, and no one bothered to find out if I really did it. His dead body was placed in the veranda, and I did not even enter the house, within minutes I took my bicycle and went back to national college, within the lunch period. I was back in class for the afternoon sessions, and really I did not feel any awkwardness. I did listen to the classes in the normal way, only on the way back after college it stuck me, how it would be without him around.
I remember my grandpa as this strict man, always very serious, hardly smile on his face. He looked very much like my mother, ,rather she looks very much like him. He was from this old school disciplinarian, and I hated it. He would never allow us to watch TV more, he would always try to show us reality, make us study during vacation, and made us travel in Bus. I hated all of it. He used to tell me, I am like the big horse in the stable, which always has its own mind, never listens to others, and tries its hand in doing things which it can never accomplish. I really hated this joking comment of his. But one thing I admired in the man was his financial planning, and the way he lived us post retirement life, with the little pension he received. Once I called him up after my 10th standard board results were out, and I had topped the state. He listens to my excited mom telling him the news, I never spoke to him freely, I was always afraid of him. He then asks her to give me the phone, and he says “Appi,[Only he used to call me that], congrats, this should not be the end”. I was just floored with composure he had at that age. Grandparents are supposed to pampering, always excited and trying to make you reach cloud 9, my grandfather was different, the old man with an occasional smile, teaching me how one needs to be , how one needs to plan. Today when I spend every penny wisely, I think of him, and whenever I waste money, again I think of him. Wouldn’t it be lovely for him to see that I am not that horse anymore, even though I have my own ways with dealing with stuff, till I have never become the “doddu kudure” he thought I was.
Second time in my life I turned my back towards death.
Why am I talking of death now? You might wonder. One of these nights when I was laying on my bed with no sleep, I had a question in my mind, Whose death would affect me more, whose death I fear more, My own death or death of my close ones.
I would not like to answer that right now, I want the reader to ponder over the question , just the way my mind did that night.
Today I have two grandmothers both past 80 years, I know some day I need to deal with the death again. I am not sure If I am ready though, I am not sure if ever anyone is ready to accept death. My paternal grandma has been around from the day I was born, she has taken care of me for years, she has hit me like my mother used to on occasions I was being stubborn ass, she has also shielded me from my parents like the way grannies should. She has been very attached and so am I. She once told me couple of years back, of all the people the person who would cry the most when I die is “M****”, and that might or may not be true, but look at the way she is preparing herself for the inevitable.
I really can’t imagine when people have to deal with their parents death when they are young, after a long time I felt really fortunate to have had my parents all along, like our safety net, like ATM, for anything and everything. Look at how much we are emotionally involved with them, can we ever imagine what we are gonna do without them?.
I realized that we are not gonna have all of them forever, I just wanted my childhood back, where you never feared death, specially not your closed ones’. Today when I look at it, how badly it might affect me, the death. I sound stupid sounding this weak. I should be the man of the housel, I am gonna have a family some day soon, I am gonna protect my wife, my kids. Can one do that if they feared death?.
Just the very thought makes me think, so its not a simple answer to the question I had. I mean I could have easily said I fear the death of my close once more than of my own. But just think of it, how you death can affect your loved ones.
This week, everyday I have woken and seen my parents, I am somehow thinking of the day when I have to loose them, and believe me I am not liking it.