When the morning sun trickled in through the window and settled itself over my face, I felt my cold waxy skin melt under it’s warmth. Droplets of perspiration emerged from the pores of my skin. Twitching, I opened my lids and blinked at the hypnotic yellow sheet of bright sunlight flashing before me. I turned my head towards the darker corner of the room and held my eyes open in a gaze. Broken and distorted thoughts streamed through my head. It was at this time that I happened to think about him. It was for just a fraction of a second but that was all it took to determine my mood that day. I was immediately engulfed by melancholy and felt a fresh sense of loss, with nothing but pain filling that void.
I still remember that day it happened.
A Tuesday in December.
was just beginning to be roped in by the city’s typical winter –contrasting shades of biting cold and hot metallic heat. The mornings were the only time when the weather maintained a pleasant head. It was just one of those mornings. The household activities were progressing at a snail’s pace which was archetypal to a public holiday. It was the Muslim festival of Mohurrum. I took the liberty to wake up late and lazily Bombay d out of my bedroom to the common hall below. My mother was seated with a wide spread of colourful vegetables around her, slowly chopping them and putting them together in a big vessel. I went ahead and started my holiday morning regime of reading the newspapers. marche
If it weren’t for the incident that followed, I wouldn’t have remembered what my uncle was doing. Usually on days like these, he picks a snug corner in the room and sleeps till noon or sits with his crooked glasses perched on his nose and corrects his student’s papers. But on that day, he was restlessly walking about the house. Before I could notice more, he rushed out of the house. I didn’t think much about it.
Time passed just like it always did. I was immersed in the day’s news, though I don’t remember anything that I’d read. I presume there must have been reports concerning the massive terror attack that the city witnessed the month before. It was a big blow to the lives of the city dwellers and people were angry with the governmental adminstration. I was quite disturbed myself and unleashed all my juevenille rage by criticising the government. Whenever I think of what happened that day, I somehow connect it to this event. It was almost as if they coincide. Both occurred due to negligence – the terror attack due to the negligence and indifference of the governmental authorities and the other one due to the negligence of the infrastructural management within the city? About the latter, I cannot say. There have been no newspaper reports concerning it, no sources to speak of the way it all happened.
A strange voice spoke on the other line when my mother called on my father’s phone. She looked at me with confused eyes after a few moments – Something has happened to your father. I don’t know, some man’s saying that he has had an accident. I don’t understand. Please talk to him.
I took the receiver from her hand.
An urgent voice answered back-Yeah. The person who this phone belongs to has had an accident. He is being taken to the hospital.
Umm….He fell off the bus.
A bus? Is he doing okay?
Ummm….I don’t think so. He is quite serious. He’s hit his head on a boulder lying on the road.
I don’t remember if we spoke about anything else. I think he wanted to know who I was and how I was related to the “man”. I hung up and went next to my mother who had plopped down on the sofa. Her face was white with fear. I tried my best to calm her down and assured her that everything was going be okay. I didn’t know how to react myself. For some reason I felt that my dad would get better like he always he. But it wasn’t so this time.
On some days I have a vague recollection of what followed after that and on some I can watch it re-occur before my eyes, and feel that exact stinging pain. Things happened quite quickly after that. Before I knew it, a call from my uncle concluded it all. I can sometimes still sense the atmosphere that enveloped the room at that moment. It was as if a tape had broken while it was playing a piece of music that had grown accustomed to people’s ears. Strange emotions whirred within me. Acceptance and denial were stubbornly engaged in a tug of war.
A simple fall from the bus. A fall that could bring to one a few bruises here and there. But so many questions popped up- questions that people have asked me, questions that I have asked myself a number of times. What was a boulder doing there? How did he fall? Was it the driver’s fault? Was it absolutely ignorant on the authorities’ part for the boulder to be there? Or was it just plain unlucky that he had to get hit on his head? Was he alive but died when being carried? Unanswered questions. Questions to which the answers would be of no use anymore. It would only enrage me further or would chokingly bind me to the past with this sterile evidence.
Not even a day has passed when I haven’t thought about my father. I do think of the accident too. It was after all a thing so quick in its approach that led to something so drastic. But there are other things that are usually forgotten as the years roll by. These rather “insignificant” things are the ones that I’d like to remember. They are catalysts with which I try to let his presence linger around me. I listen to the music that he used to listen to and I actually enjoy it, I read the books that he used to talk about if I happened to find them, I write about him, I try my hand at sketching his pictures, think of him if I happen to pass his favourite bar and smile to myself. I do have days when I think of everything at the stark negative end of the pole too. I curse my life, I bury myself in bed all day, cry till I empty my tear glands, I feel lost and confused, I doubt my future which suddenly seems bleaker than ever before! I even wrote an article about the accident, though this is going to be the only one! But I’m gradually learning to live with all these varied emotions co-existing simultaneously. It’s not always well-balanced, but that’s okay really. :-)