Ajaa, you will always remain in my memory through these –
🌼 Glass paperweight
Unaware of the principle of refraction, my eyes used to shine in amazement each time I watched the rainbow colours trapped inside that round crystal on your table. And now, your memories are nothing, but resemble like that paperweight, too delicate to carry, yet too heavy for not letting the sheets of your greatness fly away.
🌼 Sky blue salwar
The memory of wrapping chuni around neck & getting wrapped in happiness always takes me back to that sky blue salwar with silver embroidery. You had bought that for me for Prathamastami and that was one of my initial day salwars. Dada teased me saying that it was a cheap dress & my eyes brimmed in tears thinking that if he was right. After growing up, I wondered what’s the brand of grandpa’s choice. Love of blessing!
🌼 Hero honda bike
An old man with bent waist wearing dhoti & holding stick. Childhood storybooks stamp this image on our conscience as the identity of a grandfather. But you always contradicted this myth with your all-time full pant shirt attire. And I used to flaunt “My ajaa is not old. He rides hero honda bike.” Ajaa, You died. But you didn’t shrivel. The baggage of responsibilities you carried for 82 years failed to make you bend a bit.
In the morning, the cooking of your Nina walks hand in hand with the blaring of the radio. I don’t know how the smartphone has not yet replaced mami’s loyalty towards radio & what fulfilment she gets by listening radio which her mobile can’t deliver. But I know that from now on, each time she will rotate the switch of radio, her mind will revolve around the thought that no more she had to repair your old radio or buy a new one for you. Your intimacy with radio has been inherited to your daughter.
After returning from your funeral, I went to your room. That yellow Narula carry bag with radio package was lying there. The recorder inside my head which was replaying our last conversation for umpteenth time since last night, increased its volume a bit more. Your comment which was meant to inject embarrassment into my mind that day will always bring tears & smile to my face. Because that was the last and last always lasts.
Each time I argue with baba, get angry with him, do fun with him, my ears get bombarded with the taunt of your daughter-“Till today, we don’t muster courage to talk to our bapa in a raised voice.” And instantly that serious looking face of yours gets zoomed in my mind & a trail of dislike for you emanates from my heart. And that night mami sighed saying “Ama bapa daka sarigala“. All I felt at that moment was something I can’t portray in words. I am ready to listen to this taunt of mami without an iota of anger. Can’t you come back, ajaa?
🌼 Beauty of aai
Beauty bows down before aai looking at that red bindi amidst her frail eyebrows, those red bangles in her wrinkled hands & that red nail colour in her tiny nails. That beauty of her has now become a thing of the past. That day also she was looking like a cute little oldie wearing a red sambalpuri saree. But her face was not radiating that aura like before. Ajaa, you snatched away that sparkle, that redness, that beauty from aai. You even didn’t give aai a proper goodbye. You left her stranded with your unfinished talk. But don’t dare to eye her now.
The sofa was your throne where you used to sit, rest, eat & rule. That instant dining table setup was always ready to pay tribute to your full pant shirt incarnation. The way you used to eat with food scattered throughout was a tight slap to the stereotype that old people always eat neatly. Now that copper glass & that betel box will lie in a corner, unwanted.
🌼 Mini diaries
Your children were grief-stricken with the guilt of letting all your things burn with you. But I found your fingerprints in those ink-filled mini pages. Those words of you “Dial 1 2 3 4 and set your colour tune” brought a real smile to my face & reminisce the times when I used to say mami “Why doesn’t your father call you often?”. She used to answer-“My father is confident that your father is taking care of me.”
Whenever I went to mamughar, I never found you in the house. Meeting with you used to occur on the farm always. The farm never slept with your presence & your body never got tired of moving home to the farm fifty times a day. But during our return time I had always found you sitting crosslegged in the chair on the veranda, blessing us, biding us bye & telling us to come again.
Ajaa, I missed that blessing, that bye when I returned from mamughar this time.
🌼 Last meet
The last time I met you in ICU, those blinking eyes of yours, those restless movements of your limbs, those fine digits in patient monitor made me convince that you would be alright after the treatment. I wish I could watch you a bit longer that day.
🌼Black day & blank thoughts
Those yellow-orange marigolds,
those yellow-orange sunrays
& those yellow-orange pyre