Towards the end of life

I sat there on the sofa. My left leg folded. The left foot under my right thigh. It helped keep the foot warm in these cold Delhi winters. I was waiting for the tea being prepared by the two ladies in the kitchen. As I sat there I wondered where he was. The sofa where he was always seated was empty. The hand towel always present there, was there in its place, ready to be used.

There was some noise, more like a call, from the room right opposite to where I was sitting. One of the ladies went rushing in to see what happened. It was him. This was weird. It wasn't his room and he is not the kind of person who shuffles rooms a lot. I mean who does. A normal person just lives in that same darn room unless something happens that forces the change.

That change seemed to havw happened. He came out of the room, walking with her support. Here was a person who never took anyone's help - someone who had gone from a pauper to a billionaire totally on his own. And then back to a pauper. Not financially as much, he still owned this 3BHK house in a posh locality. But in terms of relationships, the story was different. As his children absorbed his ambition and set out on the path to achieve big things, they forgot him.

They hadn't seen him take care of his parents. But they didn't realize he didn't have any. Not their children will see them not taking care of their parent. And they don't realize how it would affect them. I'm one of them - the children's children.

As he sat on his sofa which was lying perpendicular to mine, right in front of me. Yeah, its an odd arrangement. But so it is.

He was looking straight ahead. The left side of his face was visible to me. The skin that had become wrinkled with years, 90 years. His eyes, brownish black. His nose, moderate in size and fair, as fair as the rest of his face. His beard, white as snow. His hands, with the tremors they usually had. Pyjamas, blue, had increased in size probably as his gait shrunk.

I saw him when he came. And when he sat down. And now when he was looking straight ahead. But didn't say anything. I was just watching him and wondering  what age had done to him, what it does to all of us. What it will do to me too. And then, for a brief moment I went into a sort of a trance, wondering what I was doing in life, and why. All I had to do was to pass some more time on the planet. And then I'll age and be gone.

I sat there watching and didn't say a word. I didn't even greet him. I had forgotten to. By the time I realized he had already got up and had started slowly walking towards his room. I was taken aback. In less than 5 minutes, he had come back. It seems he assumed, that like his children, he was also dead for me. Another part of him died then, because of me. After all, as social beings, we are but a sum total of all the bonds (deeper than relationships) that we form with those around us. And as those bonds break our soul dies.

Little did he know that I didn't notice him at all. Because the entire time I was watching me, as I am in the future not very far from today. Alive with a dying soul. As the ones I bonded with leave me alone, taking a piece of me away. For ever. Little does he know, that like him, I too am walking. I might be a bit further but I am heading, towards the end of life.

Soul suicide?

Sometimes I wonder why am I doing this. Is it just to convince myself, if things go wrong, that I was right in believing they would? Is it about running away from the responsibility that comes with taking a decision? Is it a fear that things really would go wrong?

I continue to maintain that it is not my decision. I continue to maintain that I'm ambivalent on the matter. It is their decision - they want it. All of them. My mind says go with it - I will not find what I'm looking for anyway, so let everyone else be happy. As long as they are happy atleast I'll have that satisfaction.

But, my soul continues to be detached. The heart doesn't say no. But it refuses to get involved. I guess it doesn't want to be broken. Or I guess she's just not the kind that it can attach to. So if she ever starts desiring the heart, she may be left disappointed. And things may just go wrong. And then there will be the need for a justification. And maybe this is that.

Or, this may be a suicide. A soul suicide. Creepy? Maybe. Maybe some part of me is making sure that the soul gets its freedom. And, probably, the only way is by killing it. By suffocating it. Surround it with those who don't care about it, those who don't even think of it. Maybe they don't even know that it exists.

The soul on the contrary, it seems, wants to live. Maybe it has hope. Or, maybe it knows or can see what the mind can't. But what is it? I know not. The moment I step out and think of it - all I can think of is that everyone around will be happy. Everyone but, perhaps, the ambivalent heart that refuses to speak up!

In life, sometimes, even if you can't live your dream...

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Posted by M S Ahluwalia on Saturday, 1 February 2014
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Mohabbat ki adaaein bhi ajab hain,
Meri kismat mein bhi aur, teri mein bhi bewafaai likhi isne.