Diary of a Lost Wanderer: Death by Choice
And just like that Appa died. No goodbyes, no farewells. Just a simple departure. Who would have thought that someone who woke up one day as per his ritual and went through his chores like usual would leave for some work in the bank never to return! Well, that was his last day on this earth and a random bike driver was the last person he met before breathing his last. Within seconds of meeting him, my Appa was no more.
Was I angry on that man? Perhaps yes, but more than that I was angry on myself for not being with him on that day. There was a strange urge that day to accompany him to the bank. I had even offered him, but him being what he was. He simply refused to let me accompany him. “I can manage.” He had argued. He liked doing all his work himself and hated seeking help from others. Somehow it hurts me that I wasn’t adamant enough to not let him go alone that day. Did my heart know then? I might never know.
As a child I remember him working very hard for our future. Belonging to a very lower middle class average family, he wanted to ensure me and my brother Sharad got the best of everything including things that were a privilege for him. He would commute on his bicycle daily for miles, leaving early in the morning and returning only at the night. We would barely see him except on Sundays. We were instructed not to disturb him. After all, all that he did was for us.
My Appa was not someone who expressed his love either in words or actions. For him that was something to be understood and not to be voiced. He spent his entire life making a living for himself and in turn taught us that this is what your youth is for. To slog, work hard, earn money and save for you & your family’s future. Somehow I never understood Appa’s anger towards my brother when he did exactly that. Appa always complained Sharad never had time for him. And when I dared to ask one day, “But wasn’t that what you did when you were his age too?” I was answered in stoic silence that hung around the house for days together.
Whenever as a young girl I would ask him fondly, “Appa when will you play with us?” He would always say, “Not now, we will play tomorrow. “ Needless to say that tomorrow never came and after a point I stopped waiting for them. For that matter I never asked him that question again. Maybe that was when I really grew up, having learnt that the adult life was built on a bundle of lies. I mentally made a note never to promise him those false tomorrows ever. If he needed me, I would be there. Period.
Life made me realize all that was important for survival, which include some learning and unlearning. So now I was living lessons which were never taught to me, earning me the name of the black sheep of the family. For I would hug openly each one of them, say that I love them, kiss them at the spur of the moment, buy them gifts whenever I felt like, wrote letters when I was away studying and call them regularly to do some small talk which I felt was necessary to make a bond stronger. I would make it a point to visit them regularly something like peeping in to say hello! I miss you types. They never reciprocated but nothing deterred me. I was on a mission to break those walls they had surrounded themselves with and my only weapon was love which I used in abundance at every opportune moment.
Gradually after many years, very recently I had started seeing that wall crumbling when Appa hugged me and managed to whisper,” I missed you.” Those words were heavenly for me and I knew I had finally succeeded. However I still continued my mission for the entire wall to fall. Appa didn’t like being fussed about and that is something I had to be careful about. I couldn’t make him angry at any cost. It was a tight rope walk for me as I tried to balance between what he was comfortable with and how I wanted it to be. Years of conditioning wasn’t that easy to break into, but for me even a small window was enough. Just like sunshine!
I had promised myself to be there for Appa in every little thing that I could be till his last breath and it is this failure that is haunting me today. Strangely I am sure my Appa is very happy about this because he always told me I would never want to trouble anyone. And this way he ensured he didn’t. As I sit near the window in his bedroom trying hard to stop my tears, I can see him amongst those stars smiling at me and saying, “ I told you I can manage!”
P.S: I haven't lost any one in my near and dear. But somehow this story haunted me for weeks till I wrote it here. Till the last word it could keep repeating itself in my subconscious. Maybe it was a sign for me to start writing again!