Life is short, I have heard.
There isn’t enough time to do the things you intended to do, see the places you wanted to or check the boxes of your lists.
But what do you do when you have, unlike everyone in your life, stayed behind. The memory holders, the conversation makers, the daily tenders, the spouse and the friends have all gone. The ones you journeyed with have all left.
And you are still there.
Waiting, waiting and waiting…
|Appacha with both my sons last year in Aug.|
My home in Kerala was a house bustling with action once.
My grandparents were always entertaining someone. There would always be someone coming in to meet ‘Sir’ as they walked past our road. There were prayer group leaders who came in for a conversation, for advice. My Grandpa had helped start the church services in all the areas around the town long long time ago, when the ministry was fairly new there. The fisherman, the lady selling pappadam, the milkman, the weekly beggars all seemed like family. Cousins and relatives, our house always had visitors. And my grandma never turned a single person out.
|One of the most precious pictures of my life.|
There was food too, always, in surplus. How she managed it I never figured. How do you know there will be guests and how many, I would ask. But she knew and she was ready.
They raised most of their siblings and their children. Literally. Everyone started some part of their journey in their home. It was not a huge house, but their hearts were larger than most. Now the house lies bare. Cobwebs and the crawlies may have made it home. Grandma is gone. His things that were spread across two rooms and three tables have slotted themselves in to one. His books, the bible, the radio, these were his cherished items. Reading was the one thing he had after she left. Age played dirty, took that away from him too.
|Reading was always his favourite pastime.|
My dad is 66, my mom 63. Age is catching up there too but habits don’t go away easy. Every few months they leave behind everything and rush to Kerala As kids we whined about never seeing places and having to spend every holiday visiting the same places and people. When we became adults, we could choose holidays of our own liking, and our destinations changed. But my parents they still rush home, like they have done for forty years, visiting every aging parent, uncle and aunt.
It is still not enough, they explain their hearts aching.
|Dad and Mom with Appacha|
When we were young, appacha seemed to have it all. Every morning he would have someplace to go, some meeting to attend, someone to visit. Marriage, baptism, funerals, prayers meetings, school meetings, he seemed to have so much on his plate. Dressed in his sparkling white shirt with a white mundu held together with a belt, a handkerchief under the rolled up sleeve. The few strands of hair on his balding hair combed to perfection he would pick up his leather pouch that seemed to hold government secrets. His table was as inviting as mysterious, every compartment locked shut. We tried to break in once, but we were caught.
He would be home by noon. Every meal came to the table like clockwork. Grandma had it all sorted. I always wonder how she did, a working woman, who raised three sons and catered to a demanding husband. She was not a meek soul either, and their arguments were almost fun to watch.
|Appacha’s 80 birthday celebrations|
Now the hours come by and go. Days are becoming weeks. There is no soul in sight. No conversations to be had, no stories to be relived. No one to argue with.
People thronged my grandma’s funeral from far and wide. I was reminded of the power of one individual. They all spoke about the generosity and the kindness of my grandparents. Today the man who once provided to the world, has to ask for his due. Even his money is not his anymore.
|An awaited get together!|
People say wonderful things when one is gone.
Memories came flowing through. So does love and compassion.
But the living, they sit alone and in wait.
The stories that you created are forgotten and the people you raised are too busy for you.