A close relative of mine who was an octogenarian expired the other day. He was ailing for a long time. His wife was fed up of taking care of him and his son, a very dutiful man took great care of his father. He even bathed and shaved him during his last days. A few days back , I met both the mother and her son at the bank. The son said that they were there to arrange for deleting his father's name from all the bank accounts.

This touched me. How very sad it must be for a the last traces of a dead man to be obliterated! He was a father to the son he brought up so very lovingly in a distant place in Bihar where he was a simple schoolteacher. His son fondly recollected how he used to fight with the other boys of his locality, play football ,paddle his way to the local market to buy the items of daily requirement. The mothers of the other boys complained about the son to the mother who spanked him for his activities.

But, the father never took him to task. His son was recollecting this episode as he sat on a small mat clad in the white dhoti after he had returned from the crematorium. His mother too was suffering from depression as she could not reconcile herself to the fact that after 50 years of a peaceful married life she was alone in her house wih not a single soul for company. Her relation with her daughter in law was strained and therefore her presence or absence did not really matter.

Innumerable relatives poured in to offer fruits, chawal, ghee during the time immediately after the death . They had adda sessions in the evening at home as relatives, friends and acquaintances poured in. Not that he had died an untimely death. His son was working in a private firm and earning handsomely. The grand child of the deceased was studying in a reputed school. Everything was fine. But...... the old man used to sit on an easy chair every evening and rock his grandchild to sleep. He had taught him to appreciate the fresh green leaves of Spring, the chirpy sparrows,the monsoon clouds,the orange sunsets, the early morning breeze. He told him stories of the vast oceans, of brave princes, beautiful princesses and dangerous demons. Who would fill up this gap? Was it really possible to obliterate this man from the records of the mind? Reality was too cruel. His widow browsed through all the family photographs right from the time they were newly married, to the time when they had become new parents, and finally went visiting places on summer holidays. Yet she accompanied her son to banks where the officers told them about the formalities to be complied with. She could not tell her son anything but her inner being revolted against the very idea of obliteration! Ridiculous! He who had been the mainstay of their lives, had guided the family through difficult times, cooked for the family whenever she fell ill , lovingly nursed her after her cataract operation . would not figure in any bank record again! She felt a lump in her throat. She could not discuss her feelings with her son as he was too busy with his job and his own wife and child. She felt a pain in her heart of hearts and lifted the curtains to look up at the sky above.


More by :  Prof. Arundhati Sarkar

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