What remains

November 16, 2009

Dadu passed away on the 27th of December, 2008, and after that, things were never the same. Just after he left us forever, most of us couldn’t feel what had actually happened. We all felt sad, but we never really missed him nor could we believe what had happened owing mainly to the fact that just after someone passes away, there are many ceremonies in the Hindu culture that keeps one from really understanding the gravity of the situation. Many people came and went over the next 11 days. That made us feel somewhat better and we were as if in a Dream world in which Dadu had just left us for a while and we never in actual fact left us forever. But it was a dream world-a dream that we were experiencing being wide awake. It was because the truth was too hard to believe. That includes all of us. Lately, I have been feeling differently. Things have changed over the past few days and they changed drastically from the 6th of January, when Dadu’s last rites were held. Of late, I have been feeling the way I had never felt before. It’s like a ‘zahir’ in Arabic. It literally means visible present and unble to go unnoticed. It is someone or something which gradually occupies our mind and we can think of nothing else. Many a times, it so happened that something very ordinary caused me to remember the once-living legend among us, Dadu. And to my surprise, it feels much stronger than anything I’ve ever felt. The truth is I’ve never undergone such strong remembrances.

Once every week I go to my English tuition early in the morning. Sometimes in the past few months (when Dadu went for late morning walks) I’d meet with Dadu near the BD market and sometimes he would not even notice me and pass me on a Rickshaw or walk slowly on his return on the other side of the road and I would decide to not look behind at dadu but continue listening to my portable music player which is usually set at a very loud volume. And some times he’d look at me and smile-that smile I can never forget. At those very moments I never realized that how nostalgic the memory of such an unimportant part of the day can turn out to be. It’s as if I can still see him smiling like that when I close my eyes. That old habit of meeting dadu in an unexpected place has not yet left me. Even now when I pass the BD market and I see a man wearing a black coat, a pair of black trousers and a dark blue muffler carrying a polythene, filled with the day’s shopping, in his hand, the first instincts tell me innocently that it’s dadu. Soon I realize that he’s a not present in this sinned earth anymore. This has happened more than three times as of now and every time it happens, my eyes start to glisten and just then I want to control myself because I think that it funny and I don’t want to be laughed at. The funny thing is that my eyes did not get watery even the day dadu passed away. The little moments that I had spent with dadu, mean more to me very much now that they are no longer possible to live again. Of all things it is only memory that remains.

I had often had a small fall out between baba and ma about going to meet dadu and pamma at eight sharp in the evening. I had always been of the view that I don’t want to go there and waste my time while I can stay and utilise it doing something else. I used to go there and meet them after my exams had been over. Now I realise how wrong I was when I used to think that it was a waste of time. Those very meetings were like a reunion. What I would not do just to hear dadu say, “Oh! Mourjo has come today!!!” Just that smile on his face would make my day. In my mind’s eye I can still see him sitting on the great red chair (which I have been seeing from times immemorial), looking at the TV and having an orange with the seeds on the bed nearby. Honestly speaking (I know it is hard for anyone to believe but it is the truth), I miss those days now that they are gone forever. This proves the truth in the saying ‘We don’t mind them as long as we have them’.

I used to play football regularly in the park just opposite to our house. In many bright sunny afternoons, I’d spot dadu sitting on the balcony and looking at us playing. I’d usually be too involved in the game to look up and smile. But dadu never failed to stop looking at us and whenever our eyes met, he’d smile at me-that same warm and soothing smile that came directly from the heart and out of the love that he had for all of us. It was spontaneous which made it so special. Some put on a forced smile on their faces just to make us feel that they loved us-that is a category of humans of which dadu was never a part. I am very proud to say that I am blessed enough to be the grandson of this great yet a simple man. The same nostalgic feeling surfaces when I take a walk down the old green verge from where one can see the place where dadu used to watch us play from. It may seem very stupid but as I walk all alone, I keep thinking about dadu and it again causes my eyes to moisten until I control myself and move on. The experience is so hearty that now and then, I’d make a million excuses to ma for going out and just taking a walk down that green verge which also proves to be a walk down the memory lane. Even while returning from some of my tuitions I take that walk and it my way to come in touch with dadu, who is not present anywhere around us but present everywhere surrounding us.

Everyone is there, yet it seems that no one is there. I can faintly still remember those days when I’d be visiting CE 81 as a child of eight years. At that time we used to live in Burdwan and baba was the district magistrate there. We used to arrive in the late mornings. I’d sit down to eat lunch with my brother and ma on each side. Dadu would be sitting in his original place. And he would be asking me how I managed to have rice without dal as it was very dry. These small moments bring me joy that big things could never bring. And later in the day, I’d sometimes go out with Dadu for an evening walk in the same green verge, which is so full of memories, when ma would be in the college and after along walk, he’d tell me to trace our way back. I’d make arbitrary turns until almost all hopes of returning home would seem to have been lost, when Dadu would come and hold my hand and tell me, “Come, let me show you the way”. In the next morning, I’d be sitting on dadu’s lap. Dadu would be feeding me boiled eggs with a spoon and that used to be a very special moment for me. And as time goes by, I’ll always be there with you in the sunny morning eating with you, Dadu. My memory plays the same old song of nostalgia.

All that remains are these memories with a few others that give me the pleasure of enjoying the company of Dadu even in his absence. I hope that time heals the pain but does not erase these memories as they give my life a new meaning every time I perceive them. Time mostly succeeds in fading these portraits I create with the everlasting paint called reminiscence but it will not be so this time. And I am sure that I can call myself the luckiest grandson on this Earth. May God bless his soul grant his resting in peace.