ime is just an illusion. A minute could appear to be an eternity; a few hours sometimes seem to pass in a jiffy. Years spent with a person could mean nothing; moments spent with another could make life. Some people live long leaving nothing; some others leave early teaching many a thing. Many ones are remembered hardly; a few ones, very hard to forget. Some writings are to express pleasure; some to release immense pain. Read on, if only you will share my pain, or else leave this chapter untouched. With great sorrow do I scribble, a few words on my cousin, my curly haired little cousin, who smiled and made us smile and left us all at the age of eight.
Very often does she come in the sphere of my thoughts, prompts me to say a prayer to my own spiritual guide. None or nothing has made me weep as she did, for her face ever conveyed a melancholy thought. Many a night have I spent thinking of her: praying for her, crying for her, at times, feeling very happy for her. Happy for I thought, she left this world quite unaware of its hypocrisy. Happily did she go, while playing with her mate. For her, life’s a synonym for joy.
In my script, I ain’t got a beginning for her tale. Her story I recall, clearly for its tragic ending. It’s a story told by a toddler; a story that I repeatedly tell myself.
It was one Sunday morning. Our phone rang, while I packed my bags to get to Banglore at dusk. My eldest cousin, who had come home, picked up the call. On the other end was my niece, who was then aged five. She informed him that Anu, my cousin, had fallen unconscious. Anu, I remember, had a habit of playing dramas of that sort. Her parents were away on that day and she spent her day playing with my niece at my aunt’s house close by. My cousin rushed to them while I continued with my job.
Minutes later, I saw my mother standing at the gate. In my notice came a pair of shoes, in front of my house as if someone had thrown it from outside. I joined my mother at the gate. From the South, one of my aunts came jogging down with a pale face. In a trembling voice she said that Anu wasn’t speaking a word. Hastily did I stroll to my uncle, whom Anu was taken to. When I reached there, I saw him examining her. She was half naked and was fully unconscious. My mother, my sister, my cousins all circled her, waiting for her to make a sound. But that was never to happen again.
I infer, my uncle knew what was to happen to her. She was moved to a hospital near by and from there to another one. The news flashed far and wide. I saw my aunt weeping like a child. She had returned home after a marriage and was welcomed by the tragic episode of her little daughter. She wept and walked along with my sister, when on their way they met my father. That’s how they all reached us in concert. No one dared to console my aunt, for only she knew what she was going through. Shudderingly she signed, all the documents flashed upon her by the nurses and staffs.
Anu was taken to a scanning room. We waited in the corridor, hoping to hear some news that could bring a touch of relief for all us. My aunt stood there, resting her head on a window pane, wetting her eyes all along. I came down with my father and stayed outside. We could see Anu’s father parking his bike. He saw us and came to us. What could we tell a man, whose daughter was struggling for life? Somehow I managed to pass on the news. His face turned pale; his eyes disclosed his helplessness that sent shivers in me. I knew, that very moment, that the image of his helpless face would remain in me forever and ever.
I returned home with my parents. No time did I waste in locking myself in my bathroom and weeping my heart out. I prayed to my Master; it was a prayer for her soul, not for her life. My journey to Bangalore wasn’t cancelled. I was very weak and tired. I had no food that day and no sleep the previous night. The night before the whole events took place, I was with Suresh completing my college project. The moment I boarded the bus, sleep took over me. Occasionally I woke up and the whole day and its events appeared to me like a dream. Her face, her smile kept on flashing in front and induced tears in my eyes. The gentleman sitting next to me glanced at me in surprise. I wished I could narrate the whole story to him.
At college, I had my sessional exams going. My friends did everything to help me get over the thoughts of my little cousin. Off and on, my mind travelled to see her; it travelled fast, only to find her fighting for life. Every time I thought of her, my vision became dull with tears.
Finally it happened. Life was ebbed out of her on February the 8th 2001. I was informed nothing from home. Instead, they hid from me the news that Anu was no more. Their motive, perhaps, was to help me complete my internal exams on a satisfactory note. But very angry I felt towards them. Yes, my mother had told me that there was no room for any hope; but then, human life depends solely on hopes. That night, when my mother telephoned me to apprise me about no chance of her survival, Anu had already occuppied her quota of land on earth.
Roughly forty- eight hours later, the entire episode was conveyed to me on the line. I had reached my uncle’s apartment at that point of time. After hanging up the phone, I quietly retired to my room and sat for a prayer. It was hard for me to convince myself that I wasn’t dreaming and I wouldn’t meet Anu anymore. When in prayer, I kept on shedding tears.
During my next visit home, I went and met my aunt. She believed firmly that someday, somehow her lovely little daughter would reach back to her. Parvathy, the child with whom my youngest cousin Anu spent her last few minutes, recounted the whole events that befell on that unfortunate day. She, in a broken format, expressed to us that just before losing consciousness, poor Anu was making painful attempts to speak, but wasn’t able to say a word. Whenever I visualize those sequence of events, I always fail to control my tears.
Grief is a very personal thing. Not another can understand one man’s sorrow. Ditto the case with Anu’s family. Her mother thinks she would return to her; her father, every now and then goes for an outing; her brother wears a mask of being a jovial character. In that fashion, they get on with their life. Their grief, their loss, only they know. I really do not know how it feels, when a daughter or a sister is lost forever.
“It is in the nature of secrets that one day even the best- kept secret is blown.” I’m going to let out an extraordinary piece of information here. When Anu was being carried on the shoulder of a nurse to a consulting room, I had made only a few silent footfalls behind her, when all of a sudden I saw poor Anu looking at me. Her eyes, locked with that of mine, conveyed a message; a message that I couldn’t comprehend then. The whole thing got over in a fraction of a second. It all appeared very normal to me at that stage. Only when I learned later that Anu’s condition was so critical that there wasn’t even a slim chance of she opening her eyes that I was forced to have a quick recap of the above incident that took place in the hospital. Was her glance a product of my imagination? Or was it possible that she was signalling a ‘Good - bye’ to me? I kept this data unshared, for I was sure that no one, without exception, would pay attention to such a nonsensical observation.
February the 4th 2001 and its events will never ever dissipate from my memory. In delight and distress do I bring into my mind the image of my eldest cousin carrying Anu in his arms, getting rid of his footwear on the way and rocketing to my uncle with a hope against hope of saving that poor girl’s life. Also do I recall my uncle’s heavy strokes on her forehead- while examining her- in an attempt to wake her up from what seemed to be her deepest sleep. Yet, all we could do was to watch that little girl bid farewell, leaving her family in great sorrow. Her mother told me once, “See, how in a instant did our life change.” In Anu’s tale lies a moral; a moral that we very often forget and which needs to be taught ourselves, if possible, on all days: before almighty, how helpless and insignificant a human life is!
With Anu, I have spent many a delightful moment; moments which are hard to wipe out from my memory. From her, I have learned many a thing; things that she told me while on my lap. For her, I have made her portrait; a portrait which she carefully preserved. Very often my fingers ran through her curly hairs; all such time she produced a wonderful smile. And now she comes in my dreams; and when she comes, she glances at me; the same way she did before closing her eyes forever. I hope you have understood a little of why I wrote this chapter, in this manner I wrote.