Let’s talk about death. Of pain and suffering. Of the heart wrenching, soul crushing type of loss.
Of separation. Of Death of all hope.
I could have been better to you. I could have loved you more. When we fought, and the couple of days we spent giving each other the cold shoulder, we thought it was ok because we weren’t dying. Could we have done things differently if we knew we would die tonight? We can try harder. We can try to be better people , as long as there is time. Is that why we are not trying hard enough?
Is that why, when death comes, it’s so shocking, and separation is so very hard? To let go? Because we keep wanting more time ? To be good to each other?
Is that why, the woman whose husband just passed away loses all control and passes out on their doorstep ? I can still hear the echoes of her absolute and utter total pain. Her sobs, that seemed to come from places far too deep and sorrowful , bouncing around in my ears, breaking my heart, making my mouth and my hands tremble, from her pain. It is all so sad.
This is what I thought of, when I first heard someone close to our family died. Someone who had been a chauffeur, a driver, a caretaker but most of all, a friend to this family. To the children. His heart warming smile, and the ever eagerness to take the children wherever they needed to go, to stay standby, in case we needed him, chewing on a betel leaf , or a pepper corn, he said it made him not want to fall asleep. Knowing when to chip in or when not to, the middle child is always grumpy in the mornings.
I told him his shaved head looked really good on him the last time I saw him. He had come to our place to drop off some goods my mother had sent me. He was on his way to the hospital. It was my father’s habit to send him the official vehicle to bring him in for all his treatments.
Then suddenly he died. Until then, even though I knew the day was coming soon, I had not anticipated the end .
Bits and pieces of memories come to me . He was always there. Every where my father went, always in the background, in his crisp white shirt, and black pants, his office tag around his neck. He drove through mornings and nights to get my father from place to place, and when my father dozed off, he’d speed. He’d later tell us children how my father caught him speeding when he woke and my father would grumble so he’d slow down without a word. But it made him smile .
I used to tag along with my father on many of his trips out of Colombo and once stopping by a waterfall, my father went down to explore leaving me to my own devices. My father thinks I am brave and I try to be , it helps that he thinks so. I went down after him but it was this man, who walked down the waterfall with me.
I am left with no more time to be kinder to him.
That’s what I thought of when I heard he died. The night before, my father called and warned me that his driver is unlikely to make it. The cancer had spread too fast too much, his blood sugar levels were above five hundred.
I thought of how we go on as if we have forever , a forever given to us to make amends, tell people how much they are appreciated or loved, to be nice and kind of considerate. But all we have is now. We don’t even know if we’ll have another moment. I thought of how I treat people the way they treat me, a trait I’d picked up consciously, for self preservation, but how that matters so little. I thought of how people put me off , how uptight and unfriendly some people are, or how shallow they could be and how their outlook bothers me, and how, I , turn very cold and unfriendly and distant. And how I think, it’s ok, coz next time they are good to me, I could be good to them.
It doesn’t matter. I don’t have a forever.
Ajith Uncle. I’ll miss him. He was a good man. He was so much more than just my father’s driver. He was a friend. A confidant. He told me my father’s plans, when my father himself forgot to keep us updated. He told us about the places they went to that week and how my father refusedto stay in hotels e over night, how he insisted he comes back home. We talked about cars, he’d encouraged me to buy a small thing. He’d take me around Colombo, out of here back home, he’d put my bags in the vehicle, play with the dog till I got dressed.
I’d always think of the last time I saw him, standing on our porch by the gate, running a hand across his bald head from chemo , smiling at my attempt to cheer him up.
May angels lead him in.