Death, I believe is the ultimate mystery. Life is known, at least for the most part. Death is not, again for the most part. Probably we can feel every other emotion that is out there to be felt. But death lurks in the dark. It is just around the corner all our lives, but we don’t live to see it. Yet it embraces each and every one of us eventually. When it decides to, depends on our luck or the lack of it. But even though we mostly don’t see our death coming or prefer not to think about it, we experience death more than we realize. What we understand from it will differ and will shape our eventual tryst with it.
As I sit there watching you sleep as peacefully as ever, I feel numb. I have lost a sense of time or place. I know I am going somewhere but I don’t feel myself moving. I don’t feel the sun scorching my skin. I have lost every other sense but sight. I see you in front of me, sleeping with a gentle smile across your lips just like any other day. But something is different. Today is not every other day. Although I want it to be more than ever. I don’t recognize the streets I have driven by for the last 35 years. I don’t realize how much time we were there together in that van, seeing each other like it was the first time we set eyes on each other. I don’t remember our first encounter. And you wouldn’t remember our last.
I have never seen you cry. You have never seen me cry. Not for long I guess. I see my entire childhood flash in front of my eyes and the only thing that is constant in every frame is you. I sit there in vacuum as a single tear is resisting gravity in a last ditch attempt to prevent my defeat. All through my life, you have let me win every game we have played. I guess it is about time I lost. The tear agrees.
The lone tear slowly makes its way down my cheek as I sit there still in disbelief. There is a storm of despair stirring inside me as I try hard and resist every single tear it produces. Don’t they say one should cry his heart out? I don’t want to. Every tear is a memory. Your memory. I want to keep it inside me forever. This storm is never going to die. The tears are never going to stop. But I know I will never let you go.
The van stops. I see people around me. Nothing registers. They take you away from me momentarily. I hear voices in my head. I meander in a trance as I find you on a wooden bed. You seem comfortable. I am told to say and do things. I comply mechanically. The thought that I might not see your face again makes its way into my head for the first time. I shudder. I close my eyes. I see your face. It doesn’t exactly look like how you are now. It is not the very first one that I remember as a child either. It is a unique mixture of your face that I grew up watching and adoring all these years. It is your face just for me. I fear no more.
Several years ago, I lost something. My loss was painful, at first. I then got used to it pretty soon. I could never forget it, but I learnt to live with it. Or rather without it. But it took me several years to realize what that did to you. I have always known you to be such a tough guy that I didn’t imagine the extent my loss would affect you. You never told me. But one day I saw it in your eyes. I saw a different man. A man whom you managed to hide well from me. A man more endearing than you already were.
Fire and smoke engulf me. Your thought alone consumes me. I come back the next day. You are still there. Well, in pieces. They say you burned all night. I am asked to collect your bones. I want to keep one. I am told not to. Well, I don’t have to worry as you are in my bones. I put your remains in a copper pot and bathe you in milk. I am supposed to give you to Mother Nature. I am not ready to let you go. I reluctantly go to the sea and am about to open the pot when all of a sudden a giant wave comes roaring as she grabs you away from me in a flash. I stand there transfixed having lost your last physical remains. Looks like nature was so eager to have you amidst her. I am sure you will love her company. But I hope you will miss me occasionally and step out from wherever you are to see what I am up to. I will look out for you.
I come back home. I look into the mirror. I see you. I reminisce of all that has transpired. It was a strange day. You wore my shirt. I wore your dhoti. I burned with you. And you will live with me. Forever!