(Hello BLOG! reading people. Welcome our guest blogger Crimpher of the ubernun glory! She has more wisdom than we had previously imagined. Also, the following is one of her short fiction pieces. So I don’t want any e-mails like the last time demanding citations for what she wrote!)
Crimpher’s Note : There have been many instances in my life where I have seen and perceived things that I really wish I hadn’t. There have been times when I seethed with rage seeing injustice, abuse, humiliation. Such times, among others, include the way we treat the elders of our society. In a country like India (not that the west in any way serves to be a model), where we pride ourselves on respecting the elderly (customs and traditions that stem right from the Vedas), I see abuse. Mental torture. I see how their souls have been ripped out of their aging bodies, helpless and suffocating. I see how, yet again, we’ve succumbed to the frailties of nuclear families, leaving the wise of our society somewhere far behind.. Much too far behind. Behind those thick-rimmed glasses, I see their eyes filled with sadness. Tears that have been welled inside for longer than they can remember, but a familiar pain that throbs ceaselessly within.
A Piece Of Faith In An Envelope.
“And the leaves that are green, turn to brown..” This line from a song I heard on the radio, remained with me days after I had listened to it first. As I sat on my old, wooden armchair and slowly placed my large, black glasses on the little table nearby, I reflected upon the 82 years of my life. Not in any of these years had I felt so alone, so lost and so weary.
As I looked around at the dusty bookshelves and photo frames that lay in one part of the room, my eyes searched for the one single memory that mattered most to me; that lay folded and sealed in a dull yellow envelope. I pushed myself out of the chair with some effort and staggered forward, slowly making my way towards it. It lay on the shelf with dignity and pride, being perhaps the only item in the house that had not collected dust. It took a few minutes for me to reach the shelf, but I walked determinedly, as steady as my legs could carry me. My hands slowly touched the crumpled cover of the envelope, and I immediately felt a rush of relief to a heart so plagued by unhappiness. For those few moments, I felt inner strength, my being became whole. I smiled at the thought of what the letter signified; the life I had once had, the person I once was.
Suddenly, as I unfolded the letter to read it for perhaps the tenth time that day, I remembered I had left my glasses on the table beside the armchair, and so, carrying the letter in one hand like a trophy, and holding my cane stick in the other, I hobbled back to the chair. Sitting back and making myself comfortable, I proceeded to read the letter. For that moment, my lips broke into a weak, toothless smile and tears trickled down my cheeks, which I slowly wiped away with the clean, white handkerchief I made a point to always carry in my shirt’s side pocket.
In the distance, I heard the incessant honking of a car and some voices screaming out my name. Within minutes I heard the doorbell ring several times and the pounding of angry fists against the main door. But I had little incentive to open the door and let them in. Overwhelmed by emotions and exhausted by my afternoon’s little adventure to the bookshelf, I remained in the comfort of my chair, holding close to my heart, the yellow piece of paper. After much ado, I recall the door being forced open, my elder son storming in and on seeing me alive, and well, in reasonable health, badgering me verbally with questions on why I refused to answer the door. A small group of neighbours who had collected in the interim broke up and returned to their afternoon siesta, seeing that there was no tamasha, after all. Only my son and his wife remained, talking loudly in a language that I did not understand, but with aggression that I did. Oh how irresponsible and insensitive I had grown to other people’s needs, of late.
I remember looking at them look at me with angry glances, but not seeing them. I hardly felt related to them. No, they were certainly not my children. Not the ones I had fed with my own hands, given comfort to in their times of need, even as my wife and I slept many a hungry nights. But today, they were strangers to me. People I had lost contact with years back. People who had the dubious task of looking after me, now that my wife was no more. Slowly I got up from the armchair, holding tightly to my lease of life, my most prized possession in the world. Holding it close to my chest, I moved with some difficulty towards my bedroom, saying not a word to the man and woman standing in my living room. We no longer spoke the same language. I heard the doors slam shut and I heard car breaks screech before silence descended upon the house. But now, it no longer mattered to me. Today all that mattered was the little piece of faith I held onto between my fingers, lest it slip away with the harsh realities of life.
From the corner, I felt a fuzzy nose press against my arm and a small yap telling me I was not alone. I lifted my hand and gently stroked my most loyal friend, returning the gesture. What looked back at me with innocent eyes was the one thing that connected my past and present. The one thing for which I knew I had to hold on.
As the clock struck 6 pm, I got up and returned the envelope to its rightful place. Then, I slowly set off to prepare a meal for both of us, before I finally went to sleep. I heard the pitter patter of the animal’s paws behind me, and after several days I laughed, a full stomached laugh. A laugh that told the world that this man would fight, that this man would not give up so easily. A laugh that seemed to reflect what was scribbled in a woman’s handwriting in the faded letter.
Within an hour I was wrapping up our meal. As I did so, I thought I heard the winds laugh with us. I thought I heard them echo the words of my letter. In the distance I thought I heard my wife’s gentle voice whisper in my ears. In the haze of my vision, I thought I saw her face.
I laughed again, louder still. Next to me, the dog thumped his tail wildly against the floor, sensing perhaps whatever it was that I felt. I laughed again. He wagged again. We were happy. We were alive.