It was the first time I’ve lost someone close to me. It was the first time I saw a strong man become fragile and collapse in front of my eyes. It was the first time ever I contemplated the consequences of a loved one’s departure.
All I felt was misery. The painful thought that I would never see my grandfather ever again, the traumatic realization that the toothless grin and innocent, baggy eyes would never be there to welcome me, the depressing knowledge that his tall, stooping form is gone forever, has made me become cognizant of the ephemeral nature of life.
Last week, I couldn’t update my blog. My eighty-year-old grandfather, who actively played cards and gambled like Archie Karas, breathed his last right after winning a fair amount of loot. So essentially, he was happy until his last moment arrived and when it finally did, he took off like a flash.
We couldn’t perceive what was happening. Family and friends encompassed him soon after the symptoms began to show and when he glanced at each of us with those glassy eyes, no one guessed he was just registering our faces for one last time.
And before the men carried him to the vehicle, his heart bowed out.
My grandmother crumpled to the floor in despair and the rest of us were too shocked to even shed a tear.
After a few seconds, all hell broke loose.
But all I could hear was a beep.
My mind played a video montage of all the endearing moments I hold so close to my heart—right from the day when he roved the streets of the town in search of colored chicks that I took fancy to; to the day when he was on bed, unwell, and spoke what would now become his last words to me, “You’re leaving already?”
I played the phrase repeatedly in my head as a continuous stream of tears began to flow down my cheeks. When I arrived here four months later last week, I didn’t get to talk to him due to the overflow of guests given that it was festival time in India. And within a few hours, we lost him—before I could ask how the turkeys he recently bought were faring, before I could buy him his favourite snack from the roadside stall, before I could play one last game of ludo . . .
Grandparents are a treasure. If there could be anyone who can love us more than our parents do, then it’s them. They shower us with unconditional love and ask nothing but acknowledgement in return. They just want to see us smile.
I will cherish the mythological stories my grandmother used to relate, planting herself between my sister and me.
I will forever remember their far-sighted insights and worldliness as lessons.
And I will preserve the memory of my grandfather’s last words spoken in a downcast voice, deviating from his usual baritone.
You might have left us already grandpa but you will always always be in our hearts, dreams, and memories.