The phone was continuously ringing and nobody seemed to care to answer it. Mumbling with irritation, I paused the movie I was watching, put aside my laptop and got up to answer it. My mother had also approached the phone; I gave her an angry look, complaining with my eyes about this disturbance in my relaxation session of the weekend. “Hello”, I said casually, answering the phone. What I heard next was something that etched itself on the walls of my mind and will reside in my memory for the rest of my life.
I could hear the sobs and suppressed crying of someone on the other end; it was a woman’s voice. I got nervous, thinking it might be a wrong call. “Hello?” I exclaimed again, this time a little louder. “He’s no more, he’s no more”, said the woman’s voice, which with some difficulty, I recognized to be my Aunt’s. “What do you mean? What …?”I began, but was interrupted by her lamenting tone. “He has left us forever, your grandfather”, she informed me as she tried to compose herself. I could barely breathe, my gaze turned towards my mother and I started looking at her in disbelief. My mother, obviously sensing that something was wrong, snatched the receiver from my hands and held it to her ear. I turned my back towards and muffled my cries with my hands as I heard her let out a heart-tearing wail upon receiving the tragic news of her beloved father’s death.
My recollections of my childhood trace their way back to my grandfather’s house with its tall mango tree and the wide lawn full of different varieties of plants that bore conspicuously coloured flowers. I used to keep playing with my cousins the entire day there, oblivious of the scorching sun or the heavy rain. Grandpa would place his chair under the cool shade of the mango tree and enjoy our follies and mischiefs. He would also warn us against the scolding session of our mothers if we were on the verge of getting into a fight. I used to enjoy the fact that he belongs to our ‘party’, he would always team up with us against the wrath of our angry mothers.
When we were exhausted after continuously playing whole day long, we would sit in a circle around grandpa’s chair in the afternoon. Then one of us would ask him to tell us about his earlier life and his experience in military service. He would tell us that how he got orphaned when he was barely six years old and was dependent on his relatives who then raised him up. He then joined the army after his education was completed. His eyes sparkled as he recounted his tales to us.
It is all still crystal clear in my mind like it was just yesterday when I sat in his feet with my arms tucked onto my knees and listening to him intently. He told us how he had faced so much as he took part in a war. He enlightened us with the terrors and horrors of war and described the struggles that were involved for survival. It all seemed to be playing like a movie in front of our eyes as he had an eloquent way of narrating his stories.
We all grew up and got involved into our own lives with busy, hectic schedules of studies and hung out around with friends in the spare time. I myself had evolved into someone who typifies the common teenagers. I had less time for family and was more concerned with my own study pressures and social gatherings. I had almost no time to spare to sit and chat with grandpa. Although I felt bad about it, I did not practically do anything to rectify it. Then something happened. It was an incident that opened my eyes to the blessing that God had bestowed upon me in the form of grandparents.
My grandmother passed away a year before my grandfather’s death. I was close to her as well and was deeply saddened by her tragic demise. Her departure from this world taught me one thing: our time with our loved ones is limited. It is upon us to make the most out of it. That day, something inside me urged me to change. That moment, I made myself a promise.
I started taking some time out for grandpa; I used to sit with him even if there was nothing but silence filling the gap between us. We would also talk often, about my childhood and how time flew on and changed. But there was something else I did; something that I am glad that I did. I was extremely sorry for my negligence towards grandpa but felt quite shy and embarrassed to talk about it directly with him. Therefore, I found a solution. I wrote him an apology letter, telling him how much I loved him and how dear he was to me.
He was over the moon; his face shone with excitement and pure affection when he told me how he adored my letter. He kept the letter safe along with his other personal belongings and mentioned it every time we met and talked. I could not be any more delighted for I had been the source of happiness.
This life is transitory and temporary; the feelings that we share and the time we spare for each other is everlasting. Grandpa’s death was indeed a source of grief and sorrow for me. However, it provided me with a note of satisfaction that I made him a happy person and mended my connection with him that was damaged. It was nothing less than elation, a felicity that I still cherish and will continue to relish for the rest of my life.