“The steel door of the incinerator went up and the muted hum of the eternal fire became a red roaring. The heat lunged out at them like a famished beast . Then Rahel’s Ammu was fed to it. Her hair, her skin, her smile,. Her voice. The way she used Kipling to love her children before putting them to bed: Her good night kiss. The way she held their faces steady with one hand while she parted and combed their hair with the other. They she held knickers out of Rahel to climb into. Left leg, right leg. All this was fed to the beast, and it was satisfied.”
It was Janurary 1st 2009, and I was sitting at the Bangalore railway station when I read this paragraph from the booker prize winning novel “The god of small things” by Arundhati Roy. I am a little embarrassed to admit, that sitting there amidst a big crowd, my eyes became totally wet, and I had to literally go walk upto the coffee vendor, buy myself a cup of coffee to take my mind away from this one.
6 hours later, I came to know that one of my uncle passed away that day. I had just reached Chennai on some work, and I heard from my dad that he was no more. The new year had devoured one of my dear ones.
My uncle failed to clear his 10th grade exam, even after several attempts, but he had the best engineering mind I have ever seen, he could repair any damn electronic/electrical item, all he needed was some time and a screw driver to get it open. He has repaired so many of our household appliances. All this without even any formal knowledge on the subject.
Last time I saw him, he recognized me instinctively, even though he was diagnosed with a brain tuberculosis, which made it hard for him to remember things, and also recognize people, but having seen him smartly dressed, riding his heavy rajdooth bike for years, seeing him lie with life supporting system was one of the most painful sights for me.
Today he is no more, and the worst part is that, I couldn’t even look at his face before the last rites were performed. Work/Job has robbed me of many moments, but this one, I would never forget, just a day away from the city, and I cannot look at his face for ever.
To me he will always be the guy, who at 64 years of age, decided to attend classes to learn how to repair a mobile phone, I cannot imagine myself being half enthusiastic as him.
I was speaking to my cousin today,[ his son ], he told me that, however logical we think death is, and how ever practical we are, even after knowing he would not leave longer because of his health problem, even after knowing it would be another few months max, still there was something called as hope. When we put the body in, and close the furnace door, then come out , and that is when even after being educated, knowing everything, you cannot control yourself, knowing that is the last you will get to see his face, and all we got to do is go home. That was the worst we got to feel.
Hearing my cousin speak these words, invariably my thoughts went back to the passage I read on the day my uncle passed away, unknowingly somewhere he was leaving us.