“Would you remember me always?” Ramanna asked his eight year old grandson Navin for the third time as they went round the small pond in the evening.
Navin who was ahead in his small cycle stopped and asked in an irritable tone “Why do you keep asking the same question every time we come out? I have said I will always remember you, thatha (grandpa)
“Just asking. You will remember the walks, the stories I tell you daily before you go to sleep and my wish that you study well to join Harvard. There is one other thing I have told you many times. I hope you remember.”
“Yes, thatha, I certainly will not forget all these even when I grow old like you. I know your other wish. I will tell my mom at the appropriate moment. Please do not ask me again these questions. If you do, I will refuse to accompany you.”
After they had walked a few yards, Navin stopped his cycle and waited for his grandpa to join him. He asked “Are you afraid of dying? Will it be dark over there? How will you walk without a torch? I wish you don’t die at all. My friend Mac’s grandfather is ninety five and is still very strong. He tells he can shoot a coyote even now. You have many years to go before you pop off.”
Ramanna smiled at the boy’s credulity and said “Yes, I will be alive till you join Harvard.”
“Thatha, no it is not possible. You will die long before. Let us go home. I am hungry and have some homework to do.”
Ramanna laughed hysterically and asked him when he expected he would die. Navin forgetting about Mac’s grand-dad said, “May be next year. Will you give me your laptop now itself? Sarala will otherwise keep it for herself”
The old man assured the boy “No, I can’t give you now. But I will tell your mom that it should be given to you. I will have something else for Sarala. But I don’t think I will last till next year. I am already past eighty and waiting for His call.”
Navin was awe struck “Does God have your cell number to call you. You never told me you speak to Him often. Can you tell Him to get me an iPhone I have been wanting for long?”
Ramanna could not walk even this short distance and was panting for breath. He sat on the farmer’s porch in front of his daughter’s house holding his hand on the chest even as he was sweating profusely.
”Thatha, what happened to you? Why are you sweating? Wait, let me call mom. I will get you water.”
Even as he ran shouting “Mom, thatha is not well. I think he will die. Please come at once”, his mom came running from the kitchen. They rushed him to the emergency in the hospital nearby. Navin’s dad had also joined them waiting patiently in the hall as doctors were endeavouring their best to revive Ramanna.
The nurses with grim faces were hurrying past to and from the emergency room. Navin started crying and said, “Mom, I don’t want thatha to die so soon. Mac’s grand-dad is ninety five and is still fine shooting coyotes.”
His mom signaled silence placing her fingers on her lips. Navin could not control his fear and started crying. Sarala put her arm around him and said “Don’t worry, thatha will be fine.”
The attending doctor walked slowly out of the emergency towards them. He told Navin’s parents “We did our best but could not save him… It was a massive cardiac arrest. His heart was already weak and he had undergone a bypass surgery. I am very sorry. Is there anything else you wish us to do?”
It was at this moment that Navin jumped up and said “Mom, thatha has been telling me to tell you that he wished to donate his eyes.It appears that every time he was broaching the subject, you got upset and asked him to keep quiet. He reminded me today also about his last wish. Can you not ask these doctors to remove his eyes?”
She remembered how she smothered her dad from expressing his wish when he started taking about his end. She requested the doctor to remove the eyes. She signed some papers with tears flowing from her eyes even as Navin was seen wiping her tears and telling her “I am happy that I carried out his last wish. He must have got the call from God on his cell phone today. That is the reason he told me again today.”
A few days later, Navin’s mom called him and said thatha had expressed his wish that his laptop be given to him and his iPhone to Sarala. Navin went to thatha’s room alone and standing before his photograph said “Thatha, I promise that I will always remember you. I will put your picture in the screensaver in your laptop given me by mom. Thank you so much. I love you. I will study well and join Harvard. Your other wish has been carried out. Even if it is dark over there, you will not know as your eyes have been removed.”