“I hate going to the bank.” Dada flopped into a chair and thumped his bag on the bed. He looked beaten, my grandfather did.
“Even though you get to see the stashes of notes you have hidden away in your account?” Dadi laughed from the kitchen. “It’s sad how my pocket money never seems to go up.”
“Oh, take as much as you need. What good will saving eternally be, anyway? I am not here till eternity and neither is any of us.”
My grandfather isn’t given to despondency. He continues to be fairly active, walking to and fro from the bank and the market several times each day. His unusual sulkiness struck me as odd.
“The sun is indeed too hot…” I began, but he shook his head.
“I don’t mind the sun. For all I know, winter is far more unrelenting. I hate going there because it seems like a harsh reminder of the passage of time. I no longer see many of my old friends. Often, I don’t even hear of them from the ones who remain. Last I heard, my colleague from work, the one I used to lunch with all the time, passed away in his sleep. We will never have lunch together again.”
Dadi brought him water. “He was in his nineties. At least he had a peaceful demise.”
“Yeah, better than my Kolkata friend who went to the US to be with his son and daughter-in-law. He never found them, I heard. Neither did I ever find him again.”
The two of them sat there, discussing old friends and acquaintances, several of whom were no longer around. The fish market, the Durga Puja pandaal and the morning-walk parks now abound with unfamiliar faces. Like a puff of smoke, impossible to hold, these lost people lurk only in memories.
I often spot Dada sitting by himself on the swing, staring into the distance. He enjoys feeding the housecats, though I mistrust their loyalty and suspect that it remains only as long as the food lasts. Several years ago, we would go together on leaf-hunting expeditions for school projects. We would play Badminton in the neighbourhood park and sit on the bench, talking about the colour of raindrops. Try as we can, lost time is impossible to bring back.
As more time passes, we will continue to lose people we have held dear, people we have wonderful memories with. While I, forever the child in Dada and Dadi’s eyes, might find it easier to accept loss, they don’t. Indeed, what is life without people you cherish and the enthusiasm that kept you going? In our smug, air-conditioned cabins and glorious years ahead of us, the prospect of a friendless, cold, old age may seem absurd. But this doesn’t negate how the prospect is real and will be our reality one day.
There’s something though that the passage of time hasn’t changed. Dada’s love for sweets. Every other day, we sit together with a bowl of ice-cream or Bengali mithaai. Over delicious, creamy spoonfuls, we turn back time. All the talk about sweets and calories notwithstanding, both of us shed several years from our age.
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A very poignant post Deboshree and dealing with the realities of growing old and aging. We , who are still young, can never really understand till the fate befalls us.. as it surely will.
Glad you liked reading the post. 🙂
I couldn’t agree with you more. Realization often seeps in only when fate befalls us. Sadly, it is usually too late by then.
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It’s always tough to come to terms with loss of ur loved ones. Thanks for sharing ur live with grand parents. You are blessed:)
Indeed I am, Vishal. 🙂
Yes, coming to terms with loss is one of life’s biggest challenges. The irony is that the longer you live, the more is the loss you have to deal with. But I go with what Tyrion Lannister says – death is so final, while life is full of possibilities. 😀
Yeah, I guess, as we advance in age, we look more and more fondly at the time past and become fonder of people we had in our life in those old times. Even the moment we barely notice while they are happening become dear as memories.
On another note, seeing parents and grandparents getting old is so scary and sad.
Exactly, Jyoti. Very well put. Memories become dearer with time and yet age has the potential to scare us that they will fade away. Life ain’t a bed of roses, they taught us in school. Wish we had taken that lesson more seriously. 🙂
Some things change, yet others stay the same. Cliche, I know, but it’s true. And even now, a friendless life is very sad, so the prospect of that in old age would be even more so.
I think that’s why they love the town where they grew up, where their friends stay. So they have company nearby 🙂
Your grandfather and mine seem similar in tasts. Even my grandfather sulks rarely, but he loves sweets. 😛 Brushes our worries aside when we express.
Good to see you here, Vinay. Hope you are doing well. 🙂
Ah, a toast to our grandfathers! Indeed, fond memories, familiar places and old friends are life’s most cherished blessings. 🙂