Diary Date – June 13th, 2000 – 12:30am
(My maternal house, Bikaner, Rajasthan)
We just finished ludo, a game we play most in summer vacations at Bikaner. I asked Shobha didi if I could break my fast and eat something as it was past midnight and the date had technically changed. She replied that one should not break a fast without taking a bath, that too after 4am. I had half a mind to question her on that belief but not enough strength. A sudden phone call and tension prevailed on faces.
2am (in a vehicle)
I couldn’t understand why they took me along at such a short notice with no luggage at all. I was trying to adjust in a more comfortable position in that vehicle with 9 people crammed together, rushing towards Delhi, our home. Four more hours of that adjustment and we stopped for a break at 6am. I too ate something. “Sorry, Shobha Di! Couldn’t keep to your words.”
10am (To my place, Delhi)
We entered Delhi, and now I understood their reason of taking me along. I was the only soul in that vehicle who knew the way to our place. But to their disappointment, Delhi is big and complex enough for a 10 year old kid to guide them. After seeking people’s help, we reached a place where I finally saw that temple with two twirling snakes on top and I shouted “Now I know!!!” 10 minutes and we were home. One of my uncles was waiting outside our place with a seriously negative expression on his face.
6pm (in the vehicle)
We were rushing back to Bikaner in the same vehicle but with less people this time as some of us had shifted to another vehicle following us, with a siren and revolving blue light over it. The noise of the siren is kind of dramatic when it’s far but haunting when it comes closer. After another 4 hours, we took a dinner break and Dad asked me while helping me wash my hands after dinner, “What if something happens to her?” Too heavy a question for a father to ask and equally heavy for a kid to answer.
Diary Date – June 14th, 2000 – 6am
(My grandparents’ house, Bikaner, Rajasthan)
I slept fitfully at night and was feeling tired. May be because I had travelled 1000+ kms in around 30 hours. Our vehicle stopped 100 meters before our place. Our place was surrounded by almost 15-20 neighbours. “And what is this noise??And where is that vehicle with siren and lights following us?? Oh there it is. Right in front of our house.”
We were walking towards our place. That crying sound was turning from dramatic to haunting exactly like that siren as we were getting close to our place. I entered the place and bent down to open my shoelaces. “Why on earth would someone cry out this loud? And why everyone is rushing in and out?” Ladies from the whole family and neighborhood were bawling in that hall. What I was missing till now was that body with a white cloth across her length. Lying down in the middle of the courtyard that body was not usual. Someone just unveiled her face and… and there was a silence. Like I’d gone deaf because the ladies werestill bawling but I couldn’t hear that. Everything was clear now. Everything was clear from my mind and something was deleted from my life.
She had gone. Something inside me, not ready to accept this, pushed me two steps backward and there he was, Dad, right behind me. I turned back, looked at him, with a gazillion questions in mind, but couldn’t ask one. Dead silence between the two of us. We were not uttering a single word but understanding each other, like a conversation was going on through eyes. He asked me to sit with sister and I followed. Can’t recall when I fell asleep in her lap. Everything was happening like for the first time in life today. Rest of the day went in some rituals I’d never seen before but was asked to perform. I was looking at the high flames and that gentle face turning into ashes and smoke. It wasn’t horrible but sad. It was sad not because I had lost her. It was sad because I couldn’t understand what I had lost, what had happened. I couldn’t make any sense out of it. I was 10 for god’s sake.
Diary Date – May 11th, 2014 – 10pm
(in my Room, Bikaner, Rajasthan)
I cleaned my room today and found a diary I haven’t opened for years. I opened and read it. It feels like it happened yesterday. Everything is crystal clear in my mind till date. I can visualize every second of it-Me adjusting in the vehicle, sounds of siren, bawling, recognizing twirling snakes on the top, that silence between me and Dad. The silence. It’s still here, until a message beeped in my cell-phone that read
“Forward this message to 10 people if you want a long life for your mother. Happy Mother’s Day.”