Monday, December 22

Rear view.

A part of me is numb. Frayed. Too overwhelmed to react. Unwilling to spend more words on an issue that demands action. I keep wondering at times if i have become too shallow, whether i secretly enjoy being cocooned in this inert opinionated world. The problem isn't hyperconditioned peddlers of violence unaware of their own evil. The problem is rooted in a world structure perpetuated by self sufficing components like me and you. Oblivious in our dark sleep, united by anger and angst. How can this unity exceed its shelf life beyond the glamour of protest? Where do we stand once the spotlight has gone?

And now, since i wrote this, the spotlight has gone. And now, i'm wondering where we stand.
We. You and me.

Thursday, December 11

wonder

As i look through albums
at an adorable one year old me
i wonder if I am the guy
he thought he'd grow up to be

Mrityu

I don't know what i want this post to be. It is as much about life and death, as it is about my uncle.
It could also be about his life. His story. The story of a man who was twenty seven since twenty seven, till the day he died. He was the sort of Modigiliani, who never painted on canvas. Just picked the brightest shades to colour our lives and left quaintly without a word, not one about the greys and blues, or the bitter nature of the tragedy that was to be his life. Or death.

I'm more surprised than alarmed at the loss of grief i've been experiencing over the last two days. And i'm still unable to absorb the experiences i've had over the past two months. I remember every bit of it, just as clearly as his singing. Every time i close my eyes, it rings in my ears. He had a very gifted voice that he ignored with his typical nonchalance. I lose my count of the numerous evenings that he lit up with his trademark renditions of Kishore. He had an innate style in almost everything that he did. The way he spoke, the way he laughed, the way he walked. Stylish. That was him. He had the heart of a king with the purse of a pauper. Yet, he had the intent to give you the world that even money can't buy (to steal a phrase) in the wealthiest of our kind. I had never seen him lose his temper or raise his voice. I thought failure as a man had set barriers on his expression, only to realise that it was his nature. Millions would have wilted under the societal pressure that comes with the kind of life he led. His family loved him but they despised his failure. It's only human. There is no blame. He lived in public adoration like a king. He never let pity on his economic failure, ever, dilute the fabric of his character until his last breath. His life is a lesson i'll continue to learn for the rest of my life. But as i sit and sift through family albums to find an appropriate picture that shall tell his story to the ones who never knew the man behind the relation, the loss quietly sinks into my heart.

In the two months he lay comatose since his stroke, he has shown me the side of life we usually ignore unless thrust upon. Whether it was weaving our way through the crowded highways of Bombay in an ambulance racing against his erratic pulse or simply spending days at end, waiting outside the ICU. The pictures are vivid in front of my eyes. Disturbing, distressing, yet in its own sure way, enlightening. Speaking to him as he lay still, only to wonder if he still heard me, seeing tears roll down his immobile face as my grandfather first saw him, to beeps, graphs and readings on his ventilator. I still feel the warmth of his breath tracing down my forearms as i rubbed his stubbled, cold cheeks on his deathbed. His body shrinking to his bones. The phone call. The rush.
The first time i saw his corpse. Sitting by his dead body, trying to believe that my favourite uncle was no more. That his smile was to be gone forever and that there would be one phone call less this birthday, one with an eager voice, yet not knowing what to say.

Unlike much that is said about it, death by itself is very silent. Looking back at yesterday, i can't feel better about spending so much time with my uncle at his funeral. It's really enlightening to the extent that life feels trivial before the greater questions that stand before us. Touch a corpse and you'd know that emotions aren't barely involved. It's a malady of evolution that we still dwell in emotions about most things in our lives. Life and death though are much simpler existential puzzles. Just a breath apart. I feel liberated by the procedure that preceded the funeral. Excuse me for sounding grim, but this post deserves bare truth for archival purposes. You'd be surprised at the amount of answers a dead body holds. As i untied the knotted limbs before placing him on the pyre with the mild drone of vedic chants, i realized for once, this body wasn't him. The spirit was gone. The man i knew was the spirit. The body was a consequence.
The body will go. It must. My uncle will be alive as long as we keep him alive. It's up to us now. Me and my family. This realization murders grief.

I sat at the crematorium till the very end. Collected the remains, went to the sea. Walked back with sand between my toes only to know one thing. One of the people who loved me the most in this world, is now, no more. It'll someday be true for everyone who loves me. Salvation lies in my ability to do the best for them while i can. It's the simple truth of life. Life is air.