Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waiting for the past

I was four years old and waiting was so much fun those days. I used to wait on the doorstep for my grandfather to turn up after his work, he was a photographer by profession and used to work in a nearby studio at that point of time. I was his first and only grand daughter and was the apple of his eyes. Every evening when he returned home, he sure had a small packet made of newspaper which contained some delicacy or snack ‘palaharam’ , the sight of the packet , the smell of it and the glaze of oil on the paper were the main attraction for me. When he used to enter the house calling out my name, I jumped on to him , on his lap in a second and the packet would be mine. He would then sit down for his glass of tea, and some tea was served to me also , I would first concentrate on eating the snack , it might be ‘neyyappam’ or ‘unniyappan’, sometime a ‘pappada boli’ or a ‘madakkusa’ and the best days were when I got orange coloured , juicy jalebis.

Once the savoring was over , I would turn my whole attention to my daily task and that was to give all the detail about the days activity (s) to him, and the details did not cover only me , it was about everybody at home, what we ate, what we did the whole day, who came visiting, what fish did grandma buy for dinner , whether my aunts fought with each other or they fought with my grandma or me. All these details were passed on but not in public, it was poured out right into the ears of my grandpa, the ritual was that after finishing the palaharam, I would climb up on the table on which his glass of ‘chaya’ would be resting , I would bring his face towards my lap and then start full on whispering into his ears. Once the ritual was over, everybody was called one by one by grandpa, if any body had scolded me or denied me anything during the day they would be the first one to be summoned before the court and they would be given a big scolding by my grandpa, and I would be satisfied and proudly look at the lesser mortals who were getting thrashed for disturbing her highness.

My grandpa used to love me so much, I remember he was heartbroken when I boarded my train to Delhi at the age of five , later I learned that he had vowed that he would now never keep any of his grandchildren with him anymore as he could not bear even the thought of being separated from them. But as fate would have it I traveled back to my parents, and my grandpa was upset for months together. My mother told me that he had made plans to get me admitted in a school in Kerala itself, he wanted me to stay with him. Though he was very loving at the same time one raised voice from him or just a glare was enough for me to wet my pants and howl my heart out. I was scared of him at the same time I loved him and respected him to the hilt.

Many years later when things had changed a lot, he was in Delhi and was suffering , suffering a lot of pain, there was not a single male soul around to take him to the hospital, me and my Aunt used to take him every week to the hospital , on one such occasion , it was Holi, there was not an auto to be seen on the roads, there were hoards of guys on the roads who seemed to be hooligans, in spite of all these difficulties we went ahead, took him to the doctor , got him checked up, while holding our hands climbing the stairs in the hospital, with tears in his eyes my grandpa said ‘ who says daughters are weak, they are the strongest, they are better than any son”, of course he was referring to his only son ,( rest all are daughters) , who in spite of being in the same town did not ever call upon him, never bothered to even inquire about him. Till this day I cherish those words of his, like valuable pearls, they are stored away in a velvety corner of my heart. My grandpa passed away 16 years ago, while he was in his last moments, everyone was gathered around him , everyone asked me to give him water , I refused, because I believed that my grandpa will never leave me, he will bounce back , and he will be with us. Even after he passed away I was not able to accept it for some time.

When I go through the innumerable photographs of mine which he had taken during those days when I was with him in kerala, the time that was, the time captured on his camera lense, those photographs gives me the feeling of being transcended back in time, it makes me yearn to feel his presence and his endless love once again. I am waiting for such a moment again when I can feel his presence., his love so pure,. But now waiting is not fun anymore.