Lately, my senses often pervade with thoughts about death. They bemuse my thought form. Could it be that undiscovered ghoul lurking in the neighbour’s attic? Or, a morbid phantom floating about in an invisibility cloak? Coursing its next prey, even as we fantasise about the weekend on a soporific Monday morning. Would it sweep you off like it does in the movies? Or, drop you dead when you’re in the middle of hosting a cheerful banter at the monthly kitty?
The loss of kindred has become a frequently uttered syllable under the living roof. That are residing both, within and beyond the national border. Whether belonging to the direct bloodline or further down the ancestral twine. Its revered occurrence induces an unexpected, recurrent mulling over. Beckoning me to wonder if there would soon come a time when I will be led into enduring an experience alike. The one of having a beloved snatched away. At the snap of a finger.
As inevitable, loss of life is sometimes accompanied by a preamble. And at others, unescorted by any tip-offs. The bottom line being, there is no ideal way to deal with it.
My uncle passed away a few days ago. News as such, particularly when unforeseen, reels the memory lane into an instant flashback. If spieled off over the telephone, the voice on the other end starts drowning out. Because the moment you hear that laconic choice of words, you descend into your train of thoughts. In less than a blink of the eye. It is like staring at a wall that is devoid of any artistic suspensions. You don’t know what to think. And yet, you visualise stray thoughts creating vague smokey patterns.
I tried to recall when I had last heard he was unwell. The cells in my cerebellum countered the idea. Because my memories of him are short-lived but great. And none confined to being in bed. Even otherwise, I had not known him to be a troublesome person. Or, meddlesome. Or, even a handful to tackle. His opinions were never on offer over the counter unless asked. For he was a man difficult to impress. His regards for certain somethings meant eye-tied reliability by the family. Amidst the six siblings, he was neither the eldest nor the most bedridden. While suffering from a bout of viral fever, his pulse had reached a decision. That it wanted to stop ticking. Even before the crack of a daybreak could stretch across the horizon.
It had to be coped up with. Period.
The voice on the other end of my phone fluttered in and out. Enumerating treasonous reasons of his abrupt departure. Showcasing roots and its causes. It didn’t make a difference.
The handset kept buzzing afterwards, and the recital of the monologic discourse continued. Priorities unbuckled. For, the rays of the sun now seemed to shine from the reverse direction. No matter how hard we tried to set our vision straight. Reasoning failed to ruminate over sense and sensibility. Kith and kin flew in on the same day. Still, nothing helped alter the matter-of-fact. Nothing could.
Amidst themselves, the siblings reinforced of all the support they had rendered. With superfluous vigour. The focal points of their chattering began to steer in an unanticipated direction. The drudgery of fulfilling the ceremonial rituals. Their resilience to the persisting fatigue since a couple of days. Lingering ailments that needed looking after, henceforth. The daily duties and chores he attended to imprinted an irreplaceable void. Hued and cried about. It could have easily been a staged avenue hosting chattering parleys. If not, these may have passed as talks that induced some warmth. Neither helped rewind the series of unfortunate incidents.
What had to be done, had to be done.
This eponymous togetherness also brought a version of my uncle whom I had not known to exist. Of course, it wasn’t as if he had, on a fine morning, sprouted into adulthood. His quirky mischiefs as a child were fondly recalled. The nature of which belonged to another era. The fear of their father catching him in the act was rekindled. Added to it, the terrifying aftermath of thwacking him all over, if caught red-handed. Recollections of favouring and conducive group work amidst the similarly aged siblings, when young, were enamoured. So were his telltales of naughtiness and gang-like shenanigans.
Our lifestyles today cause us to separate with families. Stitched to the tag of a promising future. Muddled and meddled with machines and technology. Family get-togethers for arbitrary prattling befall by prior intimations or appointments.
If only, there is a chance to get to learn about people. Even if, blood relations. If only, their kneading revelations are brought to the cover pages when it matters. When they are alive. Maybe, it helps minimise the leftover void. The same vanity that nags you to know someone when you have a lifetime stretching ahead of you.
Sadly, when you hit the end of the road, there beckons a designated diversion. One for each. That you’re meant to take. And when you oblige, you part with a knotted feeling in the pit of your stomach. For having known them barely all this while.