I first wondered, whether to add this to “stories’ section or ‘article’ section. Well, i ended up writing it under the article section itself. Its a true incident, and this marks the first post (‘About’ doesn’t count as a post, does it?)
THE FIRST GOODBYE..
It was a good day, had been to Mangaladevi temple and felt all the excitement of Dasara festival! It’s been more than 12 years since we had shifted to our new house in Padil. 12 years before I was grown up here, in Jeppu. Childhood memories with those 18 friends and 12 neighbouring houses didn’t leave me even for a second. I was walking on the streets of jeppu with my mother that day, actually I insisted her on checking our old house. The compound had 12+2 houses, 2 owner houses and the rest they gave it for rent; we stayed in one of them! Believe me those were the days of bliss!! If you want any help you just had voice out and there would be your sweet neighbours lined up ready to help! That’s where I spent my initial years of childhood. Here in padil, I can hardly say if that’s the case.
When I entered the compound all I could see was a plain area. No houses, no gardens nothing! The place looked no less than a forest! All the houses were demolished and the place was left empty. It was the heartbreaking moment for me. Just as we were walking out my mom got a call from one those old neighbours. Yes we were all still in touch! Their house was on the next street, just 3 minute walking distance from the place I was standing. My mom rushed and we both went to their house. On the way my mother told me that the old lady in that house is in serious condition and any time she could breathe her last.
Everyone addressed the old lady as “chikka”, she was unmarried and she spent all her life in her elder sister’s house. Her elder sister had 4 children, frankly speaking it waschikka who raised all the kids and she had been loved by everyone. She was that caring person. And then the generation moved forward. From children to grandchildren, both the sisters managed it all. The two eldest pillars of the family! Chikka loves girl child a lot! And I guess I am lucky to be a girl!! Because the love she showered on me, having no blood relation still makes feel like a princess at times. I am not perfect, I am not big hearted! Because I myself know how I treated my own grandmother and I still regret all those moments!
I sat infront of her fragile form; she was wrapped in blanket and was sleeping in the corner room of the house. She heard less so everyone had be quite loud enough. I kept fidgeting with myself when my mom spoke to her. Her responses were limited to few tears and some hand moments. She couldn’t speak clearly and I certainly didn’t understand any word she said. After sometime, the whole family which was gathered in the room stared at me, then at chikka because I hadn’t uttered a word yet! My mom nudged me to speak. Well what do people say in such situations? I was blank! Totally! On one hand I deliberately wanted to cry and on the other I just wanted to run away! Glaring back at my mom I tried calling “chikka” twice. My voice was audible enough to be heard by everyone in the room, well as I said chikka hears less. My mom gave me good squeeze making my fingers go numb, wincing with pain I called out to her loudly. Call it a miracle, luck or whatever you may, she literally turned towards me and smiled! Yes believe that because she was in no condition to see who were there in the room and who was standing where! And there she was smiling at me. Once again I went blank not knowing what to utter next. Should I ask ‘how are you’ ?well I know her condition very well that would be such an absurd question isn’t it? Then I thought maybe I will touch her hand and say..say what? *blank!*
Before I could debate further with my brains and with my mom, chikka said she was sleepy and wants to sleep. I released the breath I was holding all this while and walked out.
For next 1 hour everyone spent talking on how her condition had worsened, her age, then why she remained unmarried and later it ended up with my mom saying “hope she won’t have to bear any much pain…”
Doctors had told the last time she was ill, that if it repeats she won’t survive and it would be a waste if they had admitted her to hospital, it would only cause her more pain. When we were about to leave the house I went back to check on her. She was the same lady next to my own grandmother. From where I really don’t know but tears had filled my eyes seeing her in such devastated state. She kept crying every moment and I couldn’t bare it any longer. May be she sensed me sitting next to her, she placed her hand in mine and smiled again. We left the house later.
Early morning there were 2 missed calls on my mom’s mobile. It was from their house. When we reached the house I saw few people gathered together in the hall. And when we entered the room I saw ‘chikka’ lying lifelessly on her bed. “she might leave any time soon..” said aunty. My mom went on to console the family members while I stared at the old lady in the bed. I slowly touched her fingers, may be I wanted to talk to her- I don’t know! And the next moment I knew was she turned to my side with her last breath. She left this world for good.
I didn’t cry over this, may be I did shed few tears on the way back. But I seriously didn’t know how to react and what to react. When my own grandmother had died, I didn’t feel anything. But today I miss her terribly. Today I miss all the moments-when she wanted to me wave a bye to her while we left to school and I was this ego freak, that I didn’t cast a look back. Even today my mom says – ‘she used wait for you to say a bye to her, everyone else did for their grandmothers, except you!’ what happened to me, what was going on with me that time I don’t know. Today when I leave the house there is no one to wave a bye. My mom leaves for her duty early and so my dad! And I miss that figure that stood at the door step, checking on me until I disappeared from the sight. I wish I could have said a bye to her, I wish I could have been nicer to my grandmother!
So this time when ‘chikka’ took her last breath all I said was ‘bye chikka..’