The View

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Grandpa has a different view of his grand daughter when he was alive. After death he has an indepth talk with her and realised with shock the dysfunctionality of his family)

Submitted: November 21, 2016

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Submitted: November 21, 2016

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 Scorching heat. The mirage..When eyes could no longer see and legs couldn't take it anymore, they stop functioning. At the middle of the road. The arrogant, tarry surface that's not meant for the faint-hearted or for the ones without slippers...BANG! The waves come crashing on my face, lifting my body high up in the wind.The waves that have a solid shape in the end. But I am far away by then....dancing in the wind and then I see my body go down to the same tarry surface and land - THUD! 
 
 Here I am. In 'limbo. I'll explain how I reached here. At 75, I still ran errands for the house, looked after its members as if they were infants; filled cotton in beds using cotton from our trees in the yard. During the intervals of my work, I looked forward to being with my granddaughter whom I called 'kunjumol'( little darling). On that fateful day, her attitude was nagging me when I stepped out to do some grocery shopping. Of late,the 'verandah' of our house has been her favourite spot. 'Wonder why she's sitting there? It overlooks the main road..' such were the thoughts that crossed my mind as I crossed the busy road. From oblivion, I got hit by a speeding bus ( things are clearer now) and I flew in mid air before heading towards the ground. Believe me, the only thing I remember is: my transcendence; exhilarating!
 
Wherever I am, paralysed in mind/time, I also realise that my vision has broadened and that it goes back and forth, in and out of  houses/faces/activities happening in various districts of the state, at various intervals of time. The next moment I'm sitting near Kunjumol. At the verandah. "Why do you look bleary, like a painting on the wall?" was her question. How her voice has changed over the years! From the nasal, high-pitched tone of her past to the somewhat guttural sound that she adopts,nowadays, especially while trying to sing. It's as if she is trying to change her own voice.  "Just met with an accident. I'm no longer with you all." I became emotional despite my non-human existence. Kunjumol had the most expressive eyes always...emotions ran helter-skelter in them...unable to hide...eager to convey...Now, they showed abundance of shock, disgust, sadness, detachment...until her eyes were flooding..." Why did you leave me muthassan? Why didn't you cross the road carefully?"  were her words. " Sometimes you cross the road with thousand different thoughts. The bigger the family, the broader the thoughts. I was going to 'Rema Bakery' to buy you your favourite cream biscuits."
 
"What happened to you? Why are you sitting here?" I finally got a chance to ask that. She lowered her eyes, pouted as usual and fell mum. Her lower lips were shivering.My granddaughter is a recluse at times. From a cheerful, chirpy little one she has grown into a moody, angry teenager. She used to draw and paint well. Now she has stopped it. She wrote stories and poems well. Used to read them out to me. Now she has stopped that too. I used to hug her a lot and kiss her till sunset. Now she is aloof. Her favourite spot is the verandah of my house, overlooking the lush greenery outside on the other side of the main road. 
It hurt me when she behaved like this. Wonder why I never approached her on the matter. Sometimes people take things for granted and get used to strange patterns of behaviour. They let sleeping dogs lie. 
 
"Ammumma said I'm not good enough. Anyone can write stories and poems. It's not a big deal knowing to paint." I knew a little bit of what my wife thought.
" It's not true. She is ignorant, dear. Don't take it to heart." Stereotypes are useless but unavoidable to maintain sanity.
Tears welled up her eyes again. She gave me a look of helplessness.
"Amma doesn't say anything. She always smiles as if I'm what ammumma says. Am I good for nothing, muthassan?" She has never pleaded to me like this before. I was unaware of her emotions. 
 
 
 
 
My place is the hottest place on earth. .  Now, she stays away from all of us. We blame it on her stars, her father who left her and my daughter long back. She is very much like him, aloof. The fact nagged me every now and then.
 
The traffic is horrendous. But it has come to a standstill now.The buses are ruthless. And one of them has cost me my life. It has the name of a Saviour of the world. I'm an atheist. I've believed in loving my nervous wife, soft-as-cheese daughter, her hot and cold little angel and my non-chalant son. I had a set of pearly whites ( right from my youth) and I loved flashing them often. They are kind of distorted now, along with my whole face. I believed in beauty, but now the only beauty I see on my face is its nose. I haven't still closed my eyes; nor my mouth. I look horrible. My son held my body in his arms and cried for help. No taxis/private cars/vans/autos stopped to take them to a hospital.
 
Up here, it's lonely. When I viewed my daughter's little rented house, I missed going there. Having tea and snacks. Rose milk. Dosas. I'm not even hungry now. But I'm brimming with emotions, that were never expressed. 
 
My cherub has just returned from school- my Kunjumol (little darling). Last night, she had done a big, black spider on the wall...with coloured paper. As she expected, I tried to 'kill' it with a broomstick. The 'guffaw' that arose in the room after that...my dear, I did not enjoy the least. I acted like a grumpy old man then. In the evenings when she returned from school and frowned at sharing her rose milk with me, I felt uneasy with the familiarity of her frown. "She looks so like him." My daughter's husband who left them long ago. 
 
 I can visualise those days when she was lying in bed, feverish; my Kunjumol. My wife and her Amma looking after her. We were all there for her, looking after her. But when she stepped out into the garden with her high fever, I didn't realise the 'eruption' within her and her helpless attempts at quenching it. 
 
Now, I walk. Into the silent arcade of her realm. The murky superciliousness of her diary/her soulful eyes/the hugs that stopped coming/the anger; I've cracked it all, now. I realise that 'family' is a term as real as the word 'facade'. As strong as the bond seems, with every birth in the family, a new volcano is formed; that shows signs of an eruption if unattended.
 
I'm  going back into time, to my place, where my heart  has been always. It's  a revelation for anyone to step into the past, leaving physicality and 'present' behind... and to scavenge for the titbits of information that had always perplexed one.. The tamarind tree -favourite breeding ground for gossips whenever women in my family sit under it, involved in an arduous task of killing head lice from one another's head. One of the perplexities was my Kunjumol shutting herself in a dark room throughout the evening when the orange hue of sunset was a sight to watch for outside. The women continued their banter oblivious of her absence? Or perhaps, too sure of the reason for it. Later, when she sat next to me for dinner, her eyes were red and swollen; she was quiet. I was vocal about it a couple of times to her and others but they brushed it off as teenage arrogance/annoying behaviour that needs to be rectified. I may have been too immersed in the starchy texture of my rice and my ever wiggly tongue finding the crunchiness of stones in between my chews. How well could I swear and let my wife silently feel guilty for giving me such a sumptuous but rickety piece of meal! What I may have missed is the callous treatment of people who claim to be grown ups on the young buds who need a lot,lot more reassurance in their growing up years. As I see it now, I realise the reason behind Kunjumol's sunken expressions, frequent pouts and aimless walks in the garden. I understand her need, as she waits without hope for someone to open the door and walk in offering her their belief in her, when she locked herself up in the dark room. I know what happened under the tamarind tree..
 
 I conveyed. At this, she set out a wail and I watched it as if I was expecting it.  I knew what was coming..it's my wife again....my semi-literate, narrow-minded, callous...other half( pardon me for those terms. It's in a fit of anger. Not even verbal abuse. It's totally internal).
 
Sometimes, elders take the emotions of kids for granted. What prompts them to break the hearts of their little ones? In the busy streets of Kochi, how many times have I taken her to painting competitions and has she won prizes! My talented little one...I now realise why she stopped it all...I had no clue..didn't I think so too- that she was not enthusiastic! What happened to her? Why didn't I ever think of having an indepth conversation with her? 
 
 
 
 
 


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