Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Last Call

On a cold December day at Thimphu, I wrapped myself in the thickest of my cloth and sitting near the heater sipped a nice cup of tea prepared by my wife. I was lost in thoughts which I don’t remember now. Suddenly I was startled out of my reverie when I heard my wife call out for me from the porch.
“Rinchey, this flower was blooming yesterday but today, it’s gone,” she said wistfully.
“Learn from it. This is what we call Impermanence,” I replied feeling so saintly.
I am sure I saw a pool of tears welling up in her eyes, for the flower had been her long time favourite and to her the loss was horrendous. She sulked despite all my efforts to cheer her up and finally I suggested, “Why don’t we go to my grandpa’s place? I received news saying that he isn’t very well.”
She consented.
We drove to Kabesa, Thimphu, where my grandpa had been putting up for the last ten years. The journey was a tedious one as the feeder road was potholed in many places. They greeted us ‘hole-heartedly’ at various intervals. Somehow we managed to reach our destination unvanquished by the army of potholes. I knocked at the door and we were greeted by my grandma. Traces of tears could be seen on her old wrinkled cheeks. She gave us a big grin but I was her grandson; I could clearly see the pain hidden behind her smile. I entered the room.
“Who’s it?” asked my grandpa in an unfamiliar croaking voice.
I hardly recognized my own grandpa’s voice, the same old voice which narrated stories to me, sang lullabies and laughed with me all along my journey into adulthood. With pained resignation, I called out to my grandpa and said that it was me. He called me into his room where I saw him cuddled in his bed. I could clearly make out that he wasn’t feeling well but I guess I never, not even in my wildest imagination, thought fate would be so cruel, that life would be so evanescent. I sat beside him and chattered to him as if I have lost my mind. I wanted to make him forget the pain. I talked to him about my school, my job, my family, my parents but he just stared blankly at me. It seemed that his frail wisp of a body was hanging to life by a thin thread. He must have fought hard to hide his pain but it was evident that he was fighting a losing battle. Finally he called my name and collapsed. A chill, chillier than the December wind, ran up my spine. I held him up, I sprinkled water, I shook him up, I did all conceivable way imaginable to ‘wake’ him up but the heat gradually left his body and I had to swallow the bitter truth that my grandpa is no more. The Last Call had taught me the bitter truth about the impermanence of life.