“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” Haruki Murakami
Last year, around this time, we visited you in Madurai. We were glad that we were able to make the trip. But then, we were totally saddened by what we saw. You were not what you used to be. Of course your health had started deteriorating a long time ago..when you were with us.. but now you had become so frail and week. In addition, your memory was failing. It was not that you forgot only stuff n things. You had started to forget your children and grandchildren. According to those around you, you only remembered us, the grand daughters from Bangalore who would come and take you with them.. yes, that’s what you’d been saying to everyone ! The saddest thing was that when you saw us you said that we were your grandchildern.. of the many.. But you did not recognize us as the ones that you spoke about day in and day out..it made us feel so sad.. so very helpless..
All this happened a year ago. Earlier, we used to talk to you over phone whenever aunty or cousin visited you.. you chose to live alone in a tiny room, not wanting to be dependent on any one. But the phone calls gradually stopped as you could not hear properly and probably could not ‘connect’ as well. All this time, we’ve been worrying about you.. about how you would fare alone, requesting you to come back and stay with us. You always made an excuse and said you would definitely come after some days..
Last time when I wrote about you, I avoided writing anything except the trip.. I couldn’t bring myself to write all this… I kept thinking that some day I will surely write but not right now. I just wanted to keep everything locked up. It was painful to even think about you.. the mere shadow of your former self that you had become..
Of late, your condition worsened. You had started insisting on paying the rent of 30 rupees or so which you used to pay a long time ago. You started asking the shop keepers to give you stuff for 1 or 2 rupees. Yes, your memory probably got stuck in those times and wouldn’t come back to the present. On some days, you refused to go in and have your dinner saying that you had to wait for your grand daughter would come. It was so hard for us to hear of all this and to also know that you will probably never come back to us. You had decided that your home was your only safe cocoon..
And, when December came, I remembered our last trip and wondered if we should go again. The thought that you would not remember us was painful.. maybe we should have gone.. maybe it was selfish of us to not go. But then, the sweet soul that you were, you made it so much easier for us. You probably knew our predicament. Even though you did not recognize us.. you knew us.. you were always with us.. and you decided to make it easier for us.
You just went away one day.. it is almost 2 weeks to that day now. No one was bothered with having to hospitalize you or agonize over hospital costs, treatment, and such. And, everyone said that you died peacefully. That you did not suffer much. I really hope it was easy for you.Well, I do not know what exactly I felt on hearing the news. I did not shed much tears.. I still locked away all that I felt.. More than anything I remember I felt relief.. for you and for me.. for us! I had been feeling helpless for quite sometime and it was as though you heard me.. you didnt want me to suffer with the thoughts of helplessness and guilt .. guilt, that stuck so often, of having let you go back.
Avva, there is so much more that I want to say.. but I’m unable to go on..words cannot totally describe how we feel. You were there in our times of need, filling in the void that mom had left. Ever encouraging, prodding and loving. You had a special corner for us.. a corner that was so huge! we cherish the time you spent with us and will always fondly remember all that you did for us.. May your soul rest in peace.