Tenth day after the death of a Grand uncle.
I drive dad to a house that I have never been to, before. You don’t have to ask for directions when you are going to offer condolence. The house usually sticks out.
Women clad in wet, nine yard sarees cross your path without a second look at the visitor entering their house.
A ‘sasthrigal’ talks into his iphone, leaning on his Santro parked outside. Another client.
Dad leaves me behind in the living room and walks inside. As is always the case, I find myself surrounded by relatives who know everything about me and whose names I fear I cant remember.
The wife of the deceased – my mom’s cousin, holds my hand and breaks down. Nobody in the room reacts. Evidently, they have seen her go through this many times in the last ten days. Age and an overwhelming depression weighing on her, she makes a sign with her hand. I dint need anybody to translate that – “It feels like yesterday, when you were a baby this small”. A lump gathers in my throat and it has nothing to do with the death.
Breakfast is being served. The visitors have to be fed properly. I nibble and then get up, refusing an additional serving for the fifth time.
Somebody has brought a package from a Kodak store nearby. The image cut from a group photo and enlarged by the wonders of technology. The sons and daughters gather nearby to admire it in a fatalistic sorta way. The image that will adorn the walls in that house for decades to come and then get discarded by a generation that will no longer give a damn. I make a mental note to click ‘that’ picture when am 45 and keep aside.
We run into the daughter. She knows I have relocated back from San Francisco. I dont know anything about her. I wish my sister was around. She always knows. Somebody else joins the conversation. Both take time away from the grief to congratulate me on my career decision and take my opinion on the sub-prime crisis.
The grand children are playing cricket in the backyard, oblivious to grief. For now.
When we are done, my dad walks out abruptly. It dawns on me after a few seconds. You dont say goodbye.
The drive back is silent for the first minute. Dad stares blankly at the road for a while. Then he switches on ‘Radio Mirchi’.
The show resumes for the rest of us.