So I went and met Gopumama, Mi. Sury had a talk in Chennai and on impulse, I accompanied him, thinking it would be nice to see mama. I spoke to him a couple of weeks earlier. Finally I feel he’s getting old—he’ll be 80 this year, can you believe it? When I told him I am thinking of visiting he said okay and hung up on me. For a moment I felt a little bad, but then knowing him, shrugged it off.
We arrived in Chennai to be embraced by the humid heat. Went and saw mama. Bevy of “chols.” When we got up to leave after almost three hours, he said I should come during the weekend and stay over so we can keep on talking. How sweet. It was a nice visit.
I can’t help saying though, that people have selective memories, Mi. Of course, I did my “good listener” thing. It was amusing how certain things were conveniently forgotten. There were one or two moments when I literally had to force myself to shut up and stop myself from arguing because what’s the point? Also, I decided–no, realized–it didn’t matter.
I remembered how you often advised me to exhale the past. At this point, I am thinking, if you could do that, anyone can!
But no matter what, one thing is for sure. I can never repay the debt of his presence during my childhood. How lovingly he spent time with me, right from walking to the milk booth in the morning as I recited my poems hurriedly, to the constant yada yada yada he patiently listened to to the ongoing bedtime stories. The wonderful life lessons he taught me, the fantastic books and authors he encouraged me to read… and his patience. The most important thing he taught me was to take initiative, be proactive, be curious.
Do you remember how, before an exam when he quizzed me, he would give me hints? His idea of a hint was “The….” And I’d take off from there. Feels so funny to think about it now. And how we fought over who’d read the book from the library first!
So, no matter what he says or does now, none of it matters as it pales in comparison to his support during my growing years. Nothing can touch that.
Before we left, mama said he plans to celebrate his 80th and I should be there. I said yes, of course. I must confess that I hate the thought that everyone’s getting old!
I must also confess that I felt a bit bad that they did not mention you or reminisce about you. It hurt a bit, considering everything.
We also visited Appa. Amma is there now. We had a most pleasant visit there, as well, considering all the stuff simmering under the surface. Both were looking well, I am happy to say. Amma is how old you would have been now. Appa, of course you know.
The meeting triggered a lot of memories that played around inside my head during the long ride back to where we were staying.
The trip brought home to me the fact that for all I know, I probably have just fifteen years left—and that scares me a bit. It tells me I should live my life meaningfully. Not new advice, but felt like a punch you know. As in reminding me that I should only focus on what matters. Also, miles to go before I sleep.
I wish you were here to walk with me.
I wish you were here to help me exhale the past.