That night, the night I just can’t forget. I was a twelve year old kid. I did not even know that LOVE is such a powerful word. But that night was when I understood the depth of it, the real meaning of it. That’s the night that created the fascination in me to be madly in love with someone till the moment I die.
I was in a small room with my maternal grandmother, Saroja. She was such a beautiful woman both at heart and looks. She is a kind of person, who is orthodox at the same time would treat a maid like a member of the family. She would give everyone who visits her place coffee and sweets, even the electrician, cylinder delivery boy or the maid. She was in deep pain that night. She was seated on the single cot in the room and I was lying on the floor next to the cot. She continuously spoke all night. She looked at a picture of Goddess Lakshmi on the cupboard opposite to her and kept talking to the invisible god. She said “Kill my husband before I die. I don’t want to leave him alone and go away” These words were continuously repeated till I fell asleep. I was wondering how cruel can one be to wish for the husband’s death before ones. The good image of my grandmother slowly started falling apart from her image in my mind.
The next day dawned. When I woke up she wasn’t there on the bed. I learnt that she was taken to the hospital that night as she had fallen sick. Then she was at a local hospital for a week and later taken to a big city hospital. I heard from people that she did not speak after that night, thought she was conscious. After two weeks I was taken to the ICU to meet my grandmother. She was very sick and that was all I could comprehend from the situation. She raised her hand that had plastic holes, which was for the drips to reach her veins, and placed it on my head. She then looked at mom and gestured her to buy a saree for the nurse who was attending her. A few weeks passed. One morning I woke up to the news that she had passed away. I rushed to grandmother’s house and kept crying all day.
At the expiration of a month’s time, I had gone to visit grandpa on an evening to give something mom had given. I climbed up the stairs listening to silence. The hall was dark except for the electric lamp lit in front of a huge photograph of grandmother. Grandpa was seated beneath it. As soon as I stepped in I switched on the light. I could easily make out that grandpa had been crying. Grandpa was 80 something when my grandma passed away. That’s when I understood why grandma didn’t want to leave him alone. She knew how much he loved her and how painful her absence would be. From that day, I kept visiting grandpa every evening. We used to talk a lot. I had never shared what all grandma spoke that night before her silence with anyone.
Days passed. Everytime I visited he would silently wipe his tears. He might have thought that crying in front of a small kid, his grand daughter, was not fitting well with her strong grandpa image. Or he might have wanted to keep his love to himself. Every time grandpa looked at grandma’s photo he would look at it with an expression asking her questions. I was sure he asked her why she had left him alone. I was so scared to tell him all that grandma had told me that night but I held it back assuming that it would be too much for a twelve year old to discuss such things with a grandfather.
One fine day, I decided that I would tell him everything. I couldn’t see him worry every single day. I knew telling it to him will make the situation no better for him but I didn’t want to hold back. I went to grandpa and initiated a conversation like every other day. I asked him about Gandhi. He was telling me how Gandhi was a great man. Grandpa had shared a lot of his secrets with me. Those were times I would cherish for a lifetime. He had told me about his real and fake birthday, the one created to enroll himself in school earlier than it was legally accepted; about his friends; about how he liked grandma from the first time he saw her. I slowly opened the secret. I told him that grandma wanted him to die before her as she did not want to leave him alone, suffering without her. He cried like a baby in front of me. I did not expect that. He told me that she was a wonderful woman and the best wife. I asked him if he was crying and why as this was happening in darkness. Usually he doesn’t switch on the light in the evenings. He said he wasn’t crying and wiped his eyes. I could see his hands moving up to wipe the eyes in silhouette. I did not dig into it. I left the place. It was grandma’s way of expressing her deep love. I felt relieved that I conveyed her love, the last few words she had spoken to grandpa.
I wish I live a life like their; the one where the wife lives in a way making her 80 year old husband weep in her absence.
Grandma and grandpa, no matter how far you are from me today I will always carry a part of you all through my life.