Sunday, May 03, 2009

My Hero.

I called him “gundu” and at times “thatha”. I still call him that, only I hear no response. I get back from home after meeting a couple of my friends and there is something I‘d really like to share with him so I look for him as soon as I get back. And I see his picture framed on the wall. It hits me like a thunderbolt. He is gone. And will be forever.
A month back, thatha fell sick all of a sudden. He couldn’t believe he was sick so he tried his best to get off the bed but couldn’t. This lasted only for one day. I was sure it was one of the times; he would check in to the hospital and get right back…fit as a fiddle as he used to say. But he did not. He was rushed to the hospital at 2 am on 4th April. I knew he would be back in 2 days time or so. I didn’t even let my mind think “What if…” I called the hospital on 5th morning at 7 am and checked on him. They said he was getting better. “I knew it” I thought to myself. It is thatha, he can’t go.
My phone rang at 11:30 am. It was chitappa (thatha’s brother). He had gone to the hospital to visit him. I couldn’t leave the baby at home, I couldn’t take him either; he is too little. “Hi Chitappa, so how is thatha?” I asked. “Thatha passed away, Priya” I heard him say. Those words, that voice, that call I will never forget. Instantly, I looked at my baby and knew I had to be strong for him. So I choked back tears and told mom “Thatha is no more, ma”. She broke down, I still didn’t. Jobi had gone out to pick up decoration for baby’s party which was supposed to be held on the same day. I called him and told him what had happened. He came back home, I hugged him. A few tears and I was done. That moment, I blocked it out of my head. It is thatha, he can’t go.
Amma (Gramma) came back home from the hospital. I held her tight, not wanting to believe the intense sadness I was feeling, not wanting to know it was for thatha. Before I could break down, I ran back to my room and sat back thinking. Thinking of the days thatha and I had morning coffee together and went “Cheers” over a cup of filter kaapi. We would then read the newspaper together and talk about politics and take sides. Since he was in the Army, he never gives up in an argument which was always fun because I don’t either. We wouldn’t stop unless it was time for me to get dressed to leave to school/ college/ work. Yes, it happened for MANY years.
Over the years the scenario changed but I never really noticed it until now when I looked back in retrospect. During school we had our morning coffee everyday together, during college it 4 or 5 times a week as he would get up late sometimes. During work time, it was almost never but I hadn’t even noticed it! Why, I am not sure. I guess with time, it’s hard to notice some transitions. In the afternoons during school, he would wait for me to have lunch and would mix rice for me the way I love it. We would talk endlessly about my day at school and discuss physics. During college, he got a little tired and wouldn’t talk as much. When I went to work, I never saw him in the afternoons.
The nights though, never changed. I slept right next to him till the night before I got married. He would overhear my telephonic conversations and in order to get information out of me he would tell me about his “love story”. We never fell apart .Even if time changed and we didn’t have much time together like before, our bond remained and only grew stronger by the years. We had fights almost every day; we would talk it over and fight all over again. Sigh… if only I got back those years, those defining moments of my life. If only I could go back in time and hug him and tell him he means the world to me and he will always be my hero, my number one. Now I enter his room, I don’t see him trying to shut the windows to switch on the A/C or struggling to button his shirt or saying “Kondhai, can you get me a box of Pringles when you go out next? Any flavor would do but I like the potato one the best” I would get him two of those. I loved spoiling him. To me, after a point he was a child. A child who wanted hair gel, Pringles, Batteries, Cologne, Mach 3 Razors, the latest mobile phone. He was always very curious about the latest technology although he never quite got it.
For a month, I have bottled it all up. I remained oblivious to the fact that he is gone, that there will never ever be another thatha. But today, as I sit here trying to deal with his loss by writing this I realize there is no way I can possibly deal with it right now. Maybe over the years, maybe never. But for now, I have his countless undying memories and I have him very close to my heart. Like I was telling a friend “Legends never die.” And he is and will always be my legend, my guru, my everything.