Saturday, August 04, 2007

My dear Merc,

I am dreading waking up tomorrow—August 4th—tomorrow roughly this time--10 pm, one month ago on that awful July 4th when I got the call telling me you were dead. Do you know what it feels to hear the world “dead?” You are lucky, you will never know. How could you leave this world Hari, how?

You are no more Hari and one month has gone by. Time is marching on, but you are not here. Why Hari?

I don’t even know why I am writing this. I don’t even know where to begin Hari. I don’t even know if I am making any sense, but it doesn’t matter, does it? Perhaps it is to let you know how much I loved you, but you already knew that. Then why? It is said that pouring out ones feelings will have a cathartic effect. So if I am writing this for selfish reasons, so be it. I need to find some peace Hari. Will this terrible ache ever diminish?

Why did you go Hari? Were you fed up with life so soon? Why Hari?

You and I had a unique relationship. Our relationship was pure, compassionate, loving, wickedly humorous and illuminating. Who else could have called me “batty” after our only third or fourth conversation over the phone? How we used to talk Hari—for hours on end, forgetting time and money. I will never hear your voice again. Why Hari?

You took it upon yourself to give me advice on so many issues, and when I look back, most of them were uncannily on the mark. You admonished me for relying on medication for some of my ailments. Didn’t that advice apply to you Hari? I wouldn’t be writing this gibberish, if only you had. Why didn’t you follow your own advice Hari, Why?

Perhaps even if you had heeded our repeated pleadings to seek proper medical help, or let us help you, the Almighty would not have spared you. You had 24 years of KARMA, and when it was over, you left this world hopefully for a better place where you never have to deal with pain--physical and emotional. If this is true, then why does your death hurt so much Hari? Why?

I saw you first when you were about 8 or 9 months old. How gorgeous you looked. Your golden color, curly hair and mischievous smile bewitched me. When you vanished from my horizon, I never doubted that one day I would see you again. And I did Hari!! I will never forget that first day when I called you, and you said........... I was overjoyed; you could not have known how much happiness you brought into my life. Why then did you go so quickly Hari? Why?
We knew each other for less than a year, but what a great time we had Hari........ Did you know that my heart was brimming with pride because you were so very, very smart. I never tired of speaking about you and boasting about you. Your knowledge about so many things, at your age, was astounding, sometimes I felt so jealous. You had such convincing answers for everything. So what is the answer for your death Hari?

You were not the only one who had dreams of your future Hari. I used to lie awake at nights dreaming of an utopian future for you. I wanted you to be free of all the anguish and pain you went through in your young life. You promised me a first-class plane trip, a limousine with a chauffeur and endless spending at Harrods. You promised to visit and the first place we would go would be the beer place. You broke your promises Hari. Why? Our dreams were just that—dreams. Why couldn’t our dreams become reality, Hari? Why?

I couldn’t wait to see you, so much so I couldn’t resist giving you a bear hug when we first met at the airport! I wish you could have seen your face! We spent three glorious weeks—three lovely, vetti weeks. So many memories Hari.... Heysham.......quick sand.... Your revulsion in touching the relic..... our shopping expeditions..... deBeers...... searching for books.....Charing Cross...... oh God, so many lovely, gut-wrenching memories.

I never knew if you enjoyed our time together as much as I did. How could I ever have known my allocation was only three weeks....... Did you know that so many people thought I should not have made the trip? Right or wrong, I wouldn’t trade those days for anything in this world. Tell me Hari, did I cause ripples that turned to waves? What happened in five short months, Hari, and why?

I could go on and on.......but will you come back Hari? No! I am left with memories, only memories, a great big void, a heart that breaks every time I think of you, and so many questions for which I will never get answers. Will you answer me Hari, will you tell me WHY?
I waited 24 years to see you, and will wait until I can see you again. I know I will, and when I see you, you will give me answers, won’t you Hari? Until then, rest in peace, my dear, dear Hari.

with tons of love,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sandhya's Diary

July 4, 07

Dear Diary,

Today it was kind of sad and happy day. The happy part is that I got my own email and started to write emails to my family. The bad part was that my brother Hari died just today. He was only 24 years old and died.

He was the best brother I ever had and always think about him. He was the one who told my dad to get a hamster for my b’day. I really do miss him very much. I am really mad and upset about him when he died. He always told me to read a book. So my dad went to Lancaster to see his room and every thing and bought lots of books. From thick to thin he bought every single book. I want the whole family to know. So if you are reading this, please pass this to your child.


Farewell to Hari

My dear son:

This will be my last letter to you. I hope you will read it peacefully in heaven, where you are now lodged and completely protected by God. I wanted to say many things to you while you were alive, but never did say. This is my last opportunity to do so.

I knew you only for a very brief period – 16 months to be precise. You came into my life unexpectedly, like a meteorite, and disappeared equally unexpectedly. In the process you have left me in great sadness and agony, with me struggling to make sense of your sudden departure. Needless to say, I miss you and all the long chats that we used to have. Do you know I have never ever spoken over the phone with anyone for more than an hour! With you our talks often went beyond 3 hours. I loved the intellectual thrusts and parries from you and was amazed at the depth and width of your knowledge. From medieval days to contemporary politics, from literature to chemistry, you had a brilliant grasp on diverse matters. Some of your thinking, especially your opinions on Hitler and Gandhi were controversial, to say the least. I had planned to widen my knowledge of contemporary history so that one day I could be better equipped to talk to you. Alas, this has to be postponed till I meet you upstairs. Hopefully you will still be there when I arrive. I truly believe that is the case and that God took you away with firm intentions of keeping you there and not sending you back to earth. Otherwise why should He snatch you away at the tender age of 24? I remember a quatrain from Rubaiyat that aptly summarizes God’s play:

‘T is all a Chequer-board of nights and days
Where destiny with men for Pieces plays,
Hither and thither it moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

In one decisive swoop God took you away, leaving us with the agonizing question WHY? Why not an old pawn like me instead of such a young one? Why snatch life at such a promising age? I know that there will be no answers, but I cannot help asking such questions.

I cherished the one week that you spent with us here in Houston. I also hope you enjoyed your stay. I know you were moved after your visit to the Holocaust Museum. So was I. Sandhya enjoyed every moment of her time with you. How you two used to sit in the back of the car and giggle and tickle each other. How can I ever forget you tricking me into buying a Hamster? How you convinced my wife will always remain a mystery to me, but I was left with no defenses when my wife declared that she has no objections to have a Hamster. And you with a mischievous smile lurking behind. Do you know that we all love Mr. Hammy now? I even allow him to creep on my arms and pet and fuss over him. Thank you so much for introducing Hammy to us.

How little did I know that that would have been the only opportunity to meet with you and know you as a person? Don’t you remember that I had given you a promise to attend your graduation ceremony? Couldn’t you have waited for some more time? I want to let you know that I did visit Lancaster University in July. I visited the classes where you sat listening to lectures. I saw your room, the kitchen where you ate with your friends. I visited the Cancer Research shop where you used to volunteer. I had drinks at the bar where you used to frequent. I even visited the castle where you had been with Chittu athai. But I felt totally empty and hollow, because you were not there. How I missed you. Again I ask the question, what was the hurry, the urgent need to go leave this world? Why did you not like to spend a few more months in that beautiful university?

My dear son, I am sure that you realized that we had similar characteristics in many areas. We both were introverts, and truly afraid to reveal our true feelings. Rather than pouring out our feelings, we both were effective in masking those feelings. We even had an unspoken understanding of how we will address each other. You called me Hi and I used to call you Hari, but never addressed each other as dear father or dear son. I don’t know why, but I now feel that it was most stupid of me to behave so. I should have opened the floodgates and allowed my feelings to pour out towards you. Alas, this knowledge has come too late!

I was hoping for a great relationship between you and Sandhya, and I could see that you too bonded very well during your stay here. Sandhya was very upset to hear about your death. One day she came to be and solemnly proclaimed “Daddy, when I grow big and have a baby boy, I am going to call him Hari”. What made you forget all about this girl and instead seek abode at a place where you are now totally unapproachable?

I learnt a lot about you after your death. Your friends talked about your razor sharp intelligence, your kindness and compassion, you ability to read multiple books in a day, and so on. This made me proud that I had a son with such great qualities, but also so sad that you were not there to hear these accolades yourself.

You made me do many things that I would have otherwise never done. I had talked earlier about our long conversations over the phone. You also made me write long letters. Imagine me writing and eight page letter, that too in small fonts! You made me get a pet for my daughter. You taught me how to avoid weasel words in my language. You even made me realize how stupid it is to have silly fights with others, though I couldn’t apply this knowledge in practice.

I must also say that I wish you had listened to me on a few matters. I was always baffled by the amount of anger you retained in yourself and its destructive potential. I requested you many times to start working on ways to discharge this anger from your system, but you never bothered to listen. I don’t know why you had to store so much anger.

I also beseeched you to get admitted to the hospital when you complained of sleeplessness. Again you chose to ignore my pleadings. If only you had done so, wouldn’t you have been alive? During periods of difficulties and pain it would have been better to share one’s problems with friends, relatives and well wishers. You however chose to cut of all communication and seclude yourself. I do confess that I completely missed all the signals that were coming from you over the hopelessness of your health situation, your pessimism about a cure, and your increasing isolation from the world. I just ignored it, hoping that you will be able to handle it. How wrong I turned out to be.

I want to tell you one more thing before I end this letter. I played no role in your upbringing. I didn’t attempt to see you while you were growing from a boy to an adolescent to a teenager and then into a man. I had earlier explained to you why I chose to do so. I feel terrible now about this decision. I wonder if this is the cause of all the anger that was stacked in you. All I can do at this stage is to say – please forgive me. I am responsible for all the consequences of my actions, and I am suffering at the moment, wondering if things could have been different. I will continue to bear this cross for the rest of my life. But I also want you to know that I love you wholeheartedly and that I had no hesitation in accepting you as my son. I will continue to love you and miss you, your gentle voice, and the long conversations. Good Bye my dear son. Enjoy the peace and serenity in your new surroundings, secure in the knowledge that there is no petty ego, malice and evil to deal with. I end this farewell with a poem. I believe you will like it and that it represents how you would like to be.

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousands winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Yours loving and grieving dad,
Raj Nagarajan