Why, by the end, does everything turn into a source of pain?
Arham is known by his colleagues as someone who dwells in the past. In his defence, he always asks them “well, who doesn’t?” While everyone else is talking either about the future or their ‘could have been’ versions, he prefers to think of life as it has had happened so far. Other than that there is nothing anyone would ever be interested in knowing about him.
“You were born all messed up, shapeless, like what they eat these days, what do they call it, ha, Pasta. The doctors had to keep you in a cradle with 4 light bulbs focussed on your naked body. It was only after that you finally took a shape and began to resemble a human body, and then we all had waited till we were convinced you’d survive. And you were named Arham.” her grandmother had iterated this story like a mantra. He often wonders what would have happened if he had never taken a form. What if there were no bulbs? And does that make him as much a progeny of Edison as of his parents?
“But you can’t name a person Arham. It is blasphemous. There is so much wrong — sinful — that a person’s name is associated with. You can’t name a person with a word so sacred as that.” said the Jain monk when the fretted mother and the grandmother approached the monk and asked why is Arham always sick. The grandmother was cradling him on her legs. The mother was lachrymose. Again, he was too young to remember all of this, and it was all a hearsay, like most of the stories about one’s childhood.
“No one will eat Maggi in my house, not at least till I am alive.” his grandmother pronounced when she had heard him asking his mother to cook Maggi. “That is not our food, in fact, that is no food at all. We are vegetarians, and it has the fat from pigs.” He had cried and then slept hungry that night.
It was an unusual morning. His mother had died the other night. He had cried for as long as he could have, and then he had slept, and when he had gotten up, he had cried again, and this was repeated for the next many days till there were no tears left. He remembers his grandmother’s soft hands on his head, her old skin now flaccid almost like a cow’s udder, “I am still here, I’ll take care of you.” she was saying something on these lines. But why was she saying all of that when he knew he had her.
Now. His grandmother’s body is deteriorating. “What is happening to me?” she asked him when he last met her. And that question, that simple question, shattered his heart — the little remnant of his heart that had survived the cruelties of the world seemed too little to bear her naive question. He placed his rigid hand on her head and calmed her to sleep. And, once she was asleep, he saw her face, there was so much of that calmness that is missing from his life, the cracks on her face rose and fell with her struggled breaths, the contour of her face changed slightly with each successive breathe. He wished — even prayed — if he could make things better for her just like she had when he had lost his mother.
But some things can’t be bettered.
They can only be grieved over.
Sometimes alone and sometimes together.
But, all these reminiscences — both the happy ones and the sad ones alike — always bring along only a sense of loneliness and compels him to believe that no matter what he’d do to make himself happy at this moment, the moment would soon lapse and then, later, these doings too will end up becoming a source of pain.
And so he forces his mind to think about the time when his grandmother was healthy and they were all happy. That time must be counted too. How lucky he had been, to have gotten a chance to spend as much time with her as he had. He recalls one particular instance. She is sitting in the kitchen, crosslegged, the stove is in front of her on the ground, she is preparing Rotis — perfectly round and baked. He is sitting at an arm’s length distance from her, and he asks for a half.
She extends her hand and hands him a full.
Filling him to the full.
Just like she always did…
The picture linked to the blog post has been downloaded from https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/15-sad-reasons-people-give-up-on-their-dreams.html.