Nights are the most painful. For I am at home. The room where Amma breathed her last. The bed where she lost her will to live. There are memories associated with each artefact that’s carefully stored. When sleep chooses to evade me. I just get up and dig out some photographs, brief videos that I shot of Amma for Diwali and Pongal. I look at them – there are small snippets of her speaking. Inevitably I cry. How long has it been since I slept peacefully now? Several years to be honest. As long as she was alive, I used to worry, when will Amma regain stability and be normal. Now she is no more, I wonder if I will ever find a semblance of normalcy. Like a pre-programmed robot, I carry out my tasks, reporting to work, carrying out my duties, returning home, cooking, eating, washing clothes, showing my face at some functions or social meets. Try as much as I can, the last few painful months of Amma’s struggle remain deeply entrenched in my mind. Returning to the house, I make it a point to stand outside and remove my shoes. We used to argue. Amma used to scold me when I would wear shoes and enter the living room. She used to tell me – “Yen da shoes a kazhittu potutu va yaen da.” How many times have I had silly arguments with Amma – that would snowball into shouting matches. She wanted me to get a diwan made and put all my books inside it. To-date, I have not made the diwan. She wanted me to apply for a fresh ration card. She wanted me to get a new sofa-set. There’s a list of things that she wanted, I felt these were superfluous expenses and we could be without them. Her wish for an aquarium and coloured fish – that was something I accepted and in the last few months she would sit and look at them play in the water. She continues to look at the fish now – but now she is a framed photograph.
There are times when anxiety grips me, there is an intense throbbing pain in the chest, I feel my heart will burst and I sit down if I am at home or stop walking if I am outside and breathe deeply – exhaling and inhaling till the pain leaves me. I cross Ramachandra Hospital everyday twice – that’s my route to work and back. There’s intense anger, there’s pain, sorrow, a sense of doomed failure, that I let her down. If only, I had not gone to work on that fateful Saturday – would things have been any different? This guilt will keep haunting me. I am not able to forgive myself! Sleep cycles have gone for a toss. I don’t know when the tears dry and when the eyes shut and there’s some frantic sleep. I don’t know when I awaken and begin the battle afresh every day.
I have spoken to my employers and requested to be relieved. They have been kind and supportive. In another three months, this tenure shall end. April is when Amma’s first annual rites are scheduled. Perhaps after that there will be some solace? I do not know where I am headed? I don’t know what I am going to do? There are debts and loans to be repaid. Without any assurance of another job or pay-check. I have taken a foolhardy decision,may be I will regret this, may be this is a necessary decision. I don’t know – perhaps time will offer answers.
Kashi is where the answers lie. Once the annual rites are done, perhaps I would wander like a nomad. Not necessarily donning a saffron robe. The robe is just an outward manifestation. It is what lies inside. Perhaps within the crowds, I will merge. Away from the trappings of what society or family expects me to do. An identity that an aghori had blessed my mother with when she was carrying me as a seed in her womb.
Punarapi jananam.punarapi maranam..sakhalam, sarvam, Shivarpanam.