Long time... no see, no talk!
A decade is a long time, isn't it? A really long time when everything fades out... okay, everything supposedly fades out. The pain. The memories. The person. The relationship.
If it's true that time heals and all the pain finds its way out of one's system, then how come I still feel the pain -- as new and as raw as it was 10 years ago, as if it just happened yesterday? But it's not so easy -- as I found out the hard way in the decade after your departure.
Yes, it was exactly a decade ago that I sat in the ambulance with your body to be with you during the last few hours of your onward journey. Your hand was cold. I can still feel it in mine. And I wasn't afraid. I was at some spot where sensations (except the numbing dull ache) couldn't reach me, saving myself from the overpowering pain of the truth. I refused to acknowledge both (pain and truth) as I went about making arrangements for your funeral.
You would probably think that in all these years I wrote to you only twice (this being the second letter); you may be wondering if I had moved on -- leaving you, the past, our together times and all those good old memories behind. How wrong you're! But to tell you the truth, I never felt the need to write to you after my first letter... I didn't want to actually accept that you're gone. I am still unwilling to accept it.
But, sometimes, it hits me -- hits me really hard. Like when I am at Taj Mahal hotel and trying to choose something from the menu, I am careful enough to pass up veg cutlet which happens to be your favourite dish. Frankly, I don't even remember when was the last time amma made allam pacchadi or undraallu for Vinayaka Chaviti. Do you know that we avoid talking about you -- unless it's completely unavoidable, when we're forced to make a mention and just let your name/memory hang in the air, in the void! It's so similar to the void your departure created in our life.
Amma finds happiness in small things -- like buying your niece some clothes or stationery items or crafts material. Like reading palms and interacting with people who visit her to know about their future. Like writing those articles to various magazines (oh yes, there are dozens of new ones which are publishing her articles -- even the kind of stuff we used to make fun of because of amma's use of Grandhik Telugu). Like waiting for me to visit her every once in a while so she can share gossip and what she's been up to. So yeah, she's in her own world and it's doing her a ton of good.
As for me, I'm in my own little bubble too. By the way, I've to give you the latest updates:
1. Now, we've our dream house in Gopalpur-on-sea, and a German Shepherd dog called Frizbii (but neither we stay there nor is the dog staying with us -- it's a long story).
2. Your niece is in a residential school now (she's enjoying it there -- or so she says and we choose to believe her for various reasons).
3. We sold off the flat in Hyderabad, which you never saw anyway!
4. I'm back to journalism -- so, life has come a full circle.
5. And oh, Telangana is a separate State now. I wonder how you would have reacted to the news were you alive.
I also got to tell you that my daughter is now a typical teenager with terrible mood swings and temper tantrums! She's got to be that, right! A chip off the old block. And oh, she now knows that her mama is in a place from where there's no return... just like Sirius Black. Fine, I know you don't know who that is but seriously, you should have read more books when you were around.
So yeah, she knows that she's on her own. Just like her mother.
But what the heck! Haven't I grown old by 10 years -- hiding my gray hair under layers of colour as I keep experimenting with shades of brown and black to make myself look younger, feel younger, look confident, feel confident, look like all's well and I can handle everything, and feel it to be true in every sense?
So, has this decade eased the pain and helped me move on? Nope. And this year, it has all come back with vengeance as I feel miserable day after day -- as a run-up to the D-day. I was counting days and thinking '10 years ago, on May 28th night - all was well. May 29th - nothing amiss. May 30th - safe zone still. May 31st - my sleepless nights started. June 1st - the time is approaching, just a few hours more before the doctors called us (decades ago) to declare: "I'm sorry. We tried our best but couldn't save him."
I still remember how amma and nanna almost collapsed. Those moments keep flashing in front of my eyes and, like a film reel that keeps moving without my intervention, those memories just keep fleeting in and out. I don't think I really want to relive all that pain but somehow, this year seems different. I somehow lost control, gave up trying and gave in to the pain that's been coming in waves for the past many days and became a part of my very existence now.
But, you don't worry! You know your sister to be a fighter and a survivor, right! I'll pull through this painful period too. It just takes time. Maybe a lot of time now that I'm a bit older and prone to losing the battle before I even start. Still, I'll bounce back. I know I will. You know I will. Because you left me with responsibilities, and absolutely no choice.
Well, then, time to say goodbye. Or till I write to you again...
So long farewell. Stay well, wherever you are.
P.S: I really really really miss calling you thammudu. And, I love you!