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(Death is a painful truth. Although found detained in the angst for three years, I have never mourned the end of her living. She lived life aptly well and celebrated, and never stopped her caregiving and mellowed smiles. The years never counted as my wife’s cherishing legacy deeply etched in minds and blessings left behind for the three grandkids. 

The time runs slow in the period of reconciliation, to live with the idea that someone loved is gone, but one day the cruel day hits hard, bringing the memories all over again – today is the day – January the 17th.) 

Dear Mani, 

It’s all about survival; it’s about familiarization of the new realities I’m asked to combat. Well, to know every aspect that has to run with urgency: and to go about to integrate and rejig to go cheer up our two grown-ups and married children.

It’s also about the emotional adaptability which turned out too fragile to hold, to stay put sane when hurled into darkened nooks after your heaven bound journey. Three years back. For reasons only I can gather, a tough task for a meek soul; it’s me, to cope with the impulsive dilemmas looping all over the family and the future – the many possibilities and priorities that could go wrong and glaring.

Will the children stay on happy getting along,’ the question unsettles with a load of confusion thrown at, to figure out, how, in whichever sensible manner I learn to reach out looking at the unfinished portraits of love, affection, and care which you left midway. The canopy of supportive security found briefly shattered the hinges which stitched the family tight and intimate, and besides, I never had a pointer of ruthless climax that was to come.

The days, weeks, and months that followed, I guess things moved with assured anticipation. In steps and bits, I could reclaim the bearings; eyes conveyed definite calmness while the steps felt lighter as I walked along the corridors of the school, where for two-and-a-half decades, we had worked together as a dynamic duo.

There is more about the two sensitively worried children, and I used all the emotional tools, a few borrowed from you, to weave a caring ambiance that gently touched their psyche and can assure that by and by picked up in some quiet moments a flicker of trust, ‘Dad is as much nice as we remember mummy used to be with us, in the days stayed inches close to her warmth.’ In three years period, it happens a prideful gesture I justify myself – promisingly so for the forlorn dilemmas that would come up in an imagined scenario, ‘what if you might materialize in a fitful dream and subtly enquire about the children?’ Listen, I made good choices caring for thoughtfully, no matter any uncertain weather. I will place beneath the cleansing rain of hope.

Wait, there is more to share: about the two cuddlesome delights – the grandchildren who have sprouted barely six months after the trembling hands lit the goodbye lamp near your pyre. 

After many calls, two canceled tickets, it took two years to muster the energy and time to travel fifteen thousand miles to cross the oceans to reach the USA. To catch up, get comfortable together, to snuggle and share giggles and smile a gala time with the two grandkids – the daughter’s children – Abhiram and Aradhya.

She had shared the wheelchair circuits in the home when the days saw you sick, mostly spending time confined only to move around when needed. 

Isn’t she lucky, Aradhya, like an angel has given a year full of relishing moments to allow the grandmotherly devotion I know you are abundantly ready to offer? As she sat at breakfast, just close by, waiting to taste from the hand the crumbs off the platter.  I watched both in one joyous frame as hundreds of possible optimistic scenarios, the quick reclaim to health, raging inside. Now nearing five years and I’m apprehensive, will she show the same carefree spontaneity and impulsiveness to share the smiles? Those intense memories, still floating afresh, I’m bound to the US.

It stuck the face like an unanticipated shock; the sub-freezing wintry wind slammed as I stepped out of the Boston airport greeted by Aradhya, Abhiram, and the parents.

There are there in front. As I moved to reach, I gathered all the affection, adding yours too, imagining you were standing close by. For a few seconds, held firm with eyes which I realized, became quickly damp, perhaps the role I’m playing, at the moment, as a single parent overwhelmingly ruffled the sentiments.

There he is the Abhiram, with all the two years of delicateness, blushing and eyes shining like pebbles threw an impish smile, sporting a shock of curly black hair, waving the tiny hands as if inviting, ‘come on let’s go home and have some fun.’

Throughout Aradhya’s eyes, following every movement made me wonder with one look, ‘how beautifully she has grown up,’ in an instance, could see the echo of the charm, the contours of your smartness. The eyes carried intense artistry similar to the way you lighted the surroundings with the gentleness of those eyes. Without waiting, clasped my hand, and she walked to the waiting car. 

How many variations of games she is clever enough to improvise. Its hide ‘n’ seek, running about all day, bedroom turned to a playground, and blankets were hiding places, reams of papers shined in multiple colored expressions, tender imaginations poured out generously, and the eyes glowed with pride when the appreciation was equally loud and generous. We plowed through the snow outside, danced, and watched cartoons.

For the first time, I realized the kid’s presence would shorten the days and hypnotize the sentiments, the ensuing relief rushed like a burst packed and loaded the camera and bags with memories for fifteen adorable days. It was nourishing how relaxed I was to enjoy and treasure the few pleasures of life as the grandfather. A full fortnight wrapped tightly with wholesome chances to enjoy the tiny gallops of love, light moments of laughter, even made to forget the life of retirement wound at back home. 

The flip side – sometimes deep in the night, lying awake in the foreign land, recapitulating the fun and frolicking that went few hours before, the sharp pangs of lonely days hit ruthlessly hard. It’s a fact when said the creaking pain never gave the appetite to sleep well in those fifteen days.

Here is Kaushal:

Back home, a four-hour drive that needed to grab to listen to kiddish yet unbelievable jargon of words, and a two-year-old could ever speak that too to remember in a sequence. Take the word the kid does so amusingly, all done with a touch of casualness as if no one is watching. It amazes how quickly the kid seems to hold in the tiny head the various bits and pieces of facts and details, as many times as I visit – the kid is Kaushal, the replica of our son Aditya. He is the eloquent grandkid the inkling bearing your canny alertness and playful eyes: who emerged with a shrill cry in mid-summer exactly five months after I listened to the heave of your breath silenced forever. 

The stride conveys vibrancy all the time and naughtiness that never surrounds the kid with a dull moment or bothers less if no one not seen around to supervise the playtime. It’s so gladdening to see him tip-toe and climb up to straddle while preparing for bedtime: only the Kaushal is capable of such a frolic. There lurk many such capers up the sleeve whenever I got to see the giggles flow down and recital of babbles he never gets when to stop. You need to wait to watch the way he wraps the little hands around the legs: something that throws out into a feeling which only myself can endear, all the while one quick thought spins-out, ‘you are somewhere around glad how fondly I’m playing my role.’ 

Aradhya, Abhiram, and Kaushal are the three bubbly, loveable sacks of happiness and enjoyment twined tightly with the eternal blessings and a healthful gene gracefully flowing, I believe, which you may well pre-decide and gifted.  And I wish the three kids live with a purpose in the maternalistic sanctuary, you would have wished and will remain to safeguard in all the future years where they grow wisely and learn never to give up – the grandma’s signature personality. 



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