…. The afternoon sun was burning more than ever that day. The silence was eerie. There is something not usual. I didn’t know what. I was 15 then, class 10th. The days were hectic. But that day, something was not alright. I stood restless leaning on the balcony of our defense colony bungalow. I looked around for clues…why this uneasiness, why restlessness I wondered. Just then….
The loud sound of the calling bell woke me up from the slumber. “Akhon ke?”, I thought. Afternoon is not the time we would generally get visitors. My mom too got up in hurry. She jumped to open the door, a worry surfaced. My dad was on the door, looking visibly distraught. My mom couldn’t control, and neither could I and in unison we said, ” ki hoeche…ki holo baba. why are you back at this time?” My dad was silent. He sat with a thud. His silence was raping our hearts. We were more than sure that something is wrong…but what. ” Jol de Jol de baba ke”, my mom’s panicked voice ordered. I ran. It was almost good five mins that my father was back, but he didn’t speak a word. Those five minutes were eternity for us. We stood in rapt attention, looking dazed, and waiting for the painful news to unfold. We knew it is a devastating one…but from whom, where and how we were clueless.
“O ar nei….Papun ar nei”…. He passed away today morning. I got a call from the headquarters,” he said. I froze. I mom was sobbing uncontrollably, rather lamenting. My dad’s eyes were blood red. This was the first time I saw him in tears. Papun was my first cousin. He lived in Guwahati. And, most importantly, he was my closest. A friend and a brother whom I adored. I was ‘chordibhai’ for him. We shared the most beautiful relation even when we stayed miles apart, and met only once in the whole year during my summer vacation. He meant a lot to me. And that day I stood numb…didn’t know even how to react. The only though crossed my mind…. ” I will never see him again.”
My otherwise normal life took a huge turn that day, 30th Sep 1994. All this was beyond my comprehension. I receded in a cocoon. I cried but no one saw, I lamented but no one saw, I cursed God but no one saw. I kept everything within me…stoic. I could never come to terms to the fact that I would never see him again…and no one would call me chordibhai, the way he did. The pain was so excruciating that it made me numb.
My parents along with my brother left for Guwahati, I was told not join. It was 10th, I needed to study. I accepted, not because I wanted to sit and study but because I never wanted to visit Guwahati ever again in my life. I never wanted to speak to my kaku and kakima again. I blamed them from taking him away, failing to understand that their pain was far more deeper than mine. I hated God, and I wrapped my self in self indignation and rage. Wonder when this pain turned into rage and I developed a strange repulsion for people around me. This went on for few jolly good months. I didn’t speak or contacted anyone, never spoke to anyone back in Guwahati. They didn’t exist. With him they all went away for me.. ..until one day….
My dad lashed out at me. He felt I am being rude and unreasonable. He thought it was nearly unpardonable that I never spoke to my kakima in the last four odd months. I heard him in rapt silence. I didn’t blame him…he didn’t know what I lost. He could never know, perhaps no one could ever know what Papun meant to me. I tried reasoning out unreasonably. And after few moments of putting up a brave face, I broke down. I lamented and told that I hated everyone who killed him. I cursed ! I was naive …stupid, but I begged that I cannot get back to those people and place where he breathed his last. My dad was supportive but unrelenting, at the same time. I had to call them up, he didn’t give me any choice. It is 22 years, I still remember the number- 0361-5705471. That day, he gave me a week’s time to get my thoughts right, perhaps the most difficult one week of my life.
I realized that it is easy to fight with the outside world, but rather difficult to fight with your demons. I fought a bitter battle. My emotions overpowered every bit of reason I had in me. I cried night after night. Refrained from talking to my dad. The distance was palpable and the awkward silence was troublesome. My mom made her efforts, but in vain. Finally, I relented. I cannot possibly describe in words how crucifying it was to pick up the phone and dial that number, and float a call in void. No one will run and pick up the call to say…”chordibhai..kamon achish’! Still I picked up pieces of my heart and dialed my kakima. It was as if I was at war with myself, a deafening war of inundated emotions. But I did, I called, spoke with lump in my throat…spoke with a promise that no matter he isn’t there, we are with you always kakima.. Spoke with that conviction that His body has left and not his soul, he will be a part of me always ever..and ever. And, I realized that no one can bring you up unless you do it yourself. I could and so can you all… That day I inspired myself to do what I gave up on. That day I believed that if I can sail through this…I can sail through anything. I stood inspired, renewed and reinvented, in more ways than one…. !!
Ah welled eyes yet again…memories galore, but I stand strong today. I miss you, but more than that I owe you, because even in death you allowed me to inspire myself….!!