Sunday, April 27, 2008

Confessions...

A man's worth must be measured by the number of people who come for his funeral. Not the ones who come out of courtesy. Or those who are fulfilling a formal obligation by coming. But the ones who have the urge to look at him one last time. The obscure ones whose presence is largely ignored. The tailor from the street corner. The cycle shop owner two streets away. The mechanic who always mended his struggling scooter. They did not enter his home and offer condolensces. But they were all there during the cremation. Scores of them. Standing in random nooks. Unnoticed. Paying their respects. And leaving as silently as they arrived. He had never realized that his Father had touched so many lives. The gravity of what he had lost would come to the surface much later. He was far removed from the catastrophy he was in the middle of. Insensitive, if you may. But life would change irreversibly. The bridge across to his sister would be broken. His fault. He was an escapist coward. Hiding away in the safety of his hostel. While his sister picked up the pieces, confronted the demons, and held things together. The bridge has been mended since. Bonds re-established. But some mistakes don't deserve a second chance. He was fortunate to have one.

It would be quite a while before he realized the enormity of the loss. He would do it alone, in his hostel room. He would find unlikely allies in P and N. The guys who included him in their fold when he was at the point of losing it. It is strange how the toughest of times forge these strong bonds. Or break seemingly strong ones.

It has been over ten years now. Some snapshots keep coming back. Bicycle lessons on a rented bicycle, 50 paise per hour, two siblings quarreling over whether a 10-minute slot was over, and a fair dad playing judge. An unexpected Hero-Unibike gift to two very delighted kids. Cricket on the terrace. Cricket in the Hall. Dips in Cauvery marked by failed swimming lessons. Early morning scooter lessons, and how his dad wouldn't panic or let him panic when the gravest of mistakes were made on the road. Shuttle in the garden with Mom's saree for a net. Home grown chillies and tomatoes, and at one particular time, even maize. There were no fancy shoes or expensive clothes. No birthday parties and other such frills. But he and his sis would go to the best of schools. Live in nice homes. However bad business was, however tight finances were. His dad always knew what was more important and what wasn't. Always neatly dressed, hair neatly combed, a battered sandal colore suitcase in hand, an asthmatic sneeze as accompaniment, his dad was so full of energy and life, a compulsive optimist, a dreamer who shielded his kids from reality. He would think back of his dad with fondness and a sense of pride. And guilt. And bestow upon him the kindof respect he deserved. A little too late.

13 comments:

Suman said...

Avinash,

Well-written and heartfelt post. I didn't get to know uncle all that much, but yes, I do remember the neatly combed hair and how the atmosphere was all charged up when he was around. How is aunty doing? and your sister?

All of us have a different way of coping up with loss. And so did you and that's ok. We learn our lessons with time.

Thinking fondly of our Bhelpur days.

Take care,
Suman

frissko said...

Suman - Thanks for what you wrote. And yea i keep going back to Bhelpur in my head once in a while, particularly when i see kids playing on the streets (which is a rarity these days). Mom is good, she is with me in chennai. Sis is fine too..lives in Calif.

Hari said...

Nicely written Avi... I should read your blogs more often...

Someone could learn a lot more of you from your blogs than by talking to you... I guess

sou said...

why do i get the feeling that u've changed/ur changing.. the change is happening quite rapidly when compared to the rest of ur life where things were more or less status quo for a long time.

the love for your father comes across so strongly in this post that i wish he was my dad too :)

Chitty Cat said...

wow

this is a beautiful post - you're amazing with the way you write.

Im sure your dad is smiling, just knowing you think of him so fondly :)

Swami said...

im glad you are able to write about your innermost feelings openly and you write very well da.

mani said...

In your defense, you were young and inexperienced... hope you forgive yourself (that is what really counts doesn't it).

Of course, one of your best posts!

Canary said...

Hey.. a really moving post.. :)

~vagabond~ said...

This was so touching to read. I think what makes it so beautiful to read is the raw honesty of the emotions behind it. And if it helps, you shouldnt feel guilty...fathers are incapable of holding grudges..there is nothing you could have done that he hasnt already forgiven you for...and with this heartfelt post you've done him proud. :)

Ta'fxkz said...

nice stuff man

frissko said...

hari - thanks..hmm i guess everyone is not equipped to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

sou, chitty, swami - thanks.

mani - yea that's what that really counts...and that's what is most difficult too.

canary, vagabond, tharun - thanks.

theanalogkid said...

brilliantly captured sights and smells of the past. bittersweet.

Tifossi said...

very well written..sorry for your loss