I switched off the television set, the one which had been blasting off updates of blood the brainless mobs were sucking out of the city. The city set ablaze. A city so close to home, where friends of mine are breathing. Put my phone on charger, the one which had been receiving endless but real pictures of the mob creating havoc outside my friends’ homes.
My grandmother told me she’s going to the Gurudwara. I had to stop her, and it was tougher than usual. You see it’s my grandfather’s death anniversary today. She really wanted to go, pay her respects to the husband she lost twenty years ago. I was about to turn two years old when we lost my grandfather and I have lived on stories people tell me about him. Family, neighbors and his friends have always shared tales of him and I have always tried to listen to every word, imagine every situation, building memories out of photo albums and stories. Memories I never really had.
Apart from the stories where I am the protagonist and my grandfather revolved and ran around me, feeding me and playing with me, the one story I take pride listening to is this one. This was a really long while ago when the city was not in good shape and people were requested not to step out of home. Moreover, it was raining heavily and we didn’t have a car back then. My grandfather apparently took off on his scooter and without informing anyone at home visited a friend who needed help with his new house. My grandma tells this story with anger wrapped in pride. ‘He fell sick when he came back, such a stubborn fellow he was’, followed by a slight smirk comes the comment, ‘Always ready to help everyone.’
To prove to her how unsafe it was to get out of home, I took her outside our main door and showed her how there was no one in the streets. All homes were locked, vehicles were stacked close to each other and everything was stationary.
While she went inside, upset, I walked towards my garden.
Everything seemed grim and the sunset didn’t look even a tad bit beautiful. I took off my slippers and set foot onto the slightly wet grass in the garden. I walked for a while and tried experiencing, fully, the grass beneath my feet. I went close to the curry leaves tree and tried sniffing the beautiful aroma. I wouldn’t lie, the thought of these being my last beautiful experiences did occur to me.
And then I finally heard the voice of tyres, not the usual scratching on the road, but a soft swirling, a vocal memory of childhood, even though the one memory I always wanted to possess was the voice of my grandfather. As I turned around, I saw a little boy, pedaling his tiny bicycle on the empty, isolated street. He was the laundry man’s smallest son, carrying a potli of ironed clothes. He was out on a business delivery, on a day where we hadn’t stepped out of home. We- strong and sturdy adults, capable of taking care of ourselves. He carried that potli with utmost care with eyes full of expectation of receiving a payment. The payment which would help his father stock his home with food his family can survive on till the time the city is restored to peace, if that phenomenon exists that is.