Monday, August 4, 2008

A reunion

This story has been read 1 times. It was the memories of her last years and our conversations on a variety of subjects that have frozen in my heart. The places we visited brought a flood of recollections. It could be one of the routine visits to the hospital to see the cardiologist when while sitting in the lounge we would exchange notes on what to tell the doctor, the canteen where she liked the soft and fluffy white idlies forgetting for a while the further restrictions imposed by the doctor on her salt and water intake or a peep on the way into a supermarket to get some cosmetics. We were foolishly smug that our lives would go on like this happily for years although her condition was deteriorating fast with each passing month. Her heart had enlarged and the pumping was weak. She could hardly exert and breathing was difficult. Doctors couldn’t do much except changing the medicines and increasing the dosages. Yet we refused to accept that our lifetime together was coming fast to a close. There was an expected sudden demise of a neighbour of her age after a heart attack. She wanted to climb the stairs to pay her last respects to her friend unaware in three months she would also be a victim of the same cruel destiny. I persuaded her not to climb and gently led her back home. To both of us tragedy occurred always elsewhere far away from us despite all the signs of an impending misfortune. Each of us tried to please the other and endeavoured to make light of our worries. We attended social functions of close relatives and always smiled engaging in small witty talks to ward off the worried looks of our friends and relatives. Yet one night my wife was gone forever leaving me alone amongst multitude. Her gentle touch, her soothing conversations, her assuring smile disappeared with her in unseemly haste but the memories were the only refuge to which I clung. Years passed by and still I could hardly reconcile to the separation and the loss. Nothing seemed to interest me and l was living like a recluse in a time warp. Friends after initial commiseration reduced their visits. There would be sympathetic nods and forced smiles from relatives and they kept away whenever possible. I spent my time reading several news papers of the same events or wrote depressing stories or read her letters written when she was away in US for the umpteenth time.I tried to relate everything to my dead wife and kept the odds and ends she used in my cupboard. I covered all the four walls with her photos. My daughters chided me that this was not the sight their mom would relish and that I should lead a normal life. One evening I was walking in the neighbourhood park and chose our favourite bench overlooking a tiny pond with its lilies and ducks. We used to sit here in the evenings till the sun went down. It was then to my spine chilling sensation, I saw her coming towards me. She was in a flowing white dress with the ends smudged. There was a faint smile in her face as she beckoned me towards her. It was clear she was no spectre but yet there was something unworldly about her. For the first time I feared her. As she came close to me I felt I smelt her favourite sandalwood smell. I wanted to get up but my knees buckled. She extended her arms towards me and said “Come my dear, you thought you missed me and would never find your way to me. I see your face daily and hear your voice always. I have not left you and was always around you. But today I am taking you with me forever to the peace elsewhere. We can be free as chirping birds, swift as the breeze that rustles past you and shine as the distant stars. We will be in spirit with boundless world for us to be together. Do not worry or weep in fear. I am there for your keep.” As I heard her talk so clearly the last traces of fear vanished and found myself light and airborne along her side. I could see the ducks swimming in the pool amidst their cackles and the sun gone into hiding with the moon holding its sway over the dark sky. Arm in arm we travelled together towards the unknown mysterious space. I told my wife “Let me have last look at our daughter before we depart from this place.” As we neared our house we heard loud wails and shrieks of my daughter. When I moved quickly to comfort her telling her that I am with her mom, I saw her falling on my body and shaking it crying “Dad, why did you leave me, an orphan? I have none in this world to call my own. After mom’s death, you were the only pillar of strength. Why did you have to take your life away? Did I not take care of you well?” she cried in heart rending way as she gathered the sleeping tablets strewn around the bottle nearby besides my body.


  1. Very well-written, Parthasarathi.
    It reminds me of:
    O Death, where is thy sting?
    O Grave, where is thy victory?

    However, I feel sad for the daughter.

  2. mentioning the fragrance of sandalwood is a good way of connecting the spiritual and the earthly worlds.