The last few moments of his life was when he understood the purpose of life, its meaning that he failed to comprehend until now. Emotions invaded his still brilliant eyes. He had realized his mistakes, but life hardly gives anyone a second chance. We were all there watching when teardrops swelled his eyes and rolled over his pale cheeks. His eyes were now speaking the words his tongue failed to. The last thing he talked about was how he loved all of us. He wanted us to forgive him for all his mistakes. Our mere presence was a relief to him, he said. He spoke about the kings and the white horses that would come to take him away to heaven. His words drowned in a cough that he was fighting to suppress. He fell silent. As if, he accepted the inevitable, as if there wasn’t any need to speak, as if he waited to fall asleep once and for all. There was a momentary gloom on his face, and then all of a sudden it lit up. Might be, he saw the golden chariot on the horizon!
Latha was there crying all along. She held his hands between hers clasping as if she would not let anyone steal him away from her. Her tears were unstoppable. He was her life’s purpose and now he lay right in front of her waiting silently for the inevitable and permanent departure. He had shared all his life’s ups and downs with her. She was there in his joy and sorrow, success and failure. But now, she had to bear all this pain alone. She loved him so much that she wished if she could trade her life with his death. I thought he understood her emotions and could read her mind. But he kept quiet and did not say anything to comfort Latha. He just took her hands, kept it on his forehead and asked her whether death is going to be painful. After all, in her laps he always felt comfortable, just like a newborn child. She kissed his forehead. A teardrop from Latha’s moist eyes jeweled his eyebrows. He kissed her hand in return and closed his eyes. I think he wanted to cry loud but managed to put a brave smile on his face. I was not able to control my tears; I do not remember myself crying ever before.
His brother, Giri was weeping profusely nearby his bed. He was his friend, philosopher, well-wisher and the world to Giri. They hugged and recalled the memories of the good old times. He promised that he would be there with him whenever he felt so. Giri fell on his chest as if he were listening to his fading heartbeat.
Next was my turn to bid farewell to my buddy. We had 15-20 years of fond memories to talk about and laugh. Instead, he just said one meaningful word, “Thank You”. I bravely smiled and told him “Always welcome” and braved a smile. He reminded me, “You have to fill in my part. Please take care of her and let her never cry ever again.” He asked me to take his diary, read it and then burn it. He had a special few to whom I had to convey his love, regards and well wishes. I also typed his last e-mail and sent it out for him. My hands were shaking and I was feeling dizzy.
The chilly winds crept into the room disturbing our farewell. He wanted Latha to pull the blanket up. He closed his eyes, telling he wanted to sleep. He held my hands firm. Slowly his body went numb and his palm felt cold. He was no more. His still lips remained stretched in an unfinished smile. We felt ourselves slipping into a vacuum created by his absence. I realized that I have lost something that I would never be able to replace and our life will never be the same ever again. My legs couldn’t hold me further. I sat down. I could see that Latha had already fainted on his still body. His brother, with dry eyes, was staring at the smiling face he left behind. I thought, “God, is this what I lived all my 60 years to see? Is this the same happy family that it was a week back?” My son, my friend, Hari was gone. As Hari lay there dead, my younger kid and wife shattered, I sat sobbing with one hand on Giri’s head and the other one on Hari’s cold head.
Inspired by an article about the demise of a teenage boy to cancer. He was a brilliant student who fell into the trap of drugs, alcohol and cancer sticks. Ten years after his death, his family spoke about the void that his death had caused in their lives and how things could never be the same again.