It was a summer afternoon of a fervid Thursday when I stumbled across your surprisingly well-preserved journals from 1984-1985 in one of your cupboards. “Ah! This is just amazing”, I exclaimed. “Now I get to know you a little better, I suppose”.
About the journals, well there were two. A leather-bound, brown diary from your final year of B.Sc (or so it haughtily exclaims) and a hard-bound, olive green diary from your days as a freshman in college. It had an opening quote, too. “I asked of life,”What have you to offer me?” And the answer came,”What have you to give?” ” I noticed your handwriting and I realized that I occasionally made my I’s the same way as you did, and our W’s were almost similar, too.
Your first diary entry was on the night of 31st December 1983. You were not too excited about celebrating the New Year’s Eve in your college dorm. It was the first time you were away from home and you wouldn’t be able to watch the New Year’s program on the TV, either. I could sense a feeling of deja vu. I usually end up spending my New Year’s Eve all by myself, too. And yes, I sulk a lot. But you wouldn’t know that, would you?
There’s a diary entry about celebrating your first Holi in Hissar. Now here’s a difference. You loved the festival, quite passionately, if I must add. On the contrary, I hate it with the same (if not more) passion. I guess I’m the cynical one.
As I turn each page, the resemblance in our respective handwritings loses its distinctive identity. It is as if I penned all these thoughts and experiences, but I don’t seem to have any memory of living these moments.
You used to write, too. Hahaha. Now I know that my paternal side has absolutely no role in it. Phew. I never had the flair or the sense of appreciation for poetry, but you do (did). A multitude of the faded pages is more of a user’s manual to me, figuratively. I could learn so much about men, departure, friends, future husbands (Hahaha) from those words, if I wanted to.
A very prominent feature of your diaries were the recipes inscribed into the pages of your 32-year-old journals. One thing that I never inherited from you was the art of cooking good food. I can never cook anything without burning or making it stick to the bottom of the pan. I suppose my spouse would have to carry on your legacy and feed me, too. Regardless, your diaries are filled with recipes of every cuisine and every kind. And pray, what the hell is a Chestnut soup or a Frankfurt pudding, eh? You never made me one of those.
You even documented Rakesh Sharma’s space odyssey in a 5-page diary entry. Hahaha. I’d never do that. Space trysts never got my attention from the day I turned 16.
Ok, WE share the same enthusiasm for penning down quotes in the French language and lyrics of our favorite songs, too. I should have known that it was a genetic inheritance and not a vague fascination.
And as I look around the empty room to share this with you, I realize that you’re not here anymore. The house that once boasted of your quiet presence is a shadow of its past, glorious self. But its silence shrieks of your absence and sudden departure.
It will be 14 years in September. You left your house in a haste. It was an abrupt departure. And the place has never been the same. It looks raided and empty. I made the decision to live there, but it has been 14 years and I still don’t have the strength to walk through every room of the house or open your cupboards and go through your things. Because I know that a part of me would never have the strength to go through that overwhelming experience.
I do try, though. There are days when I stand in the barren living room or the kitchen and I keep looking. The rooms might be empty but they are haunted by your memories and a multitude of physical reminiscences, too.
It’s a pity that I never got to spend enough time with you. It’s a pity that I have hardly any memories of you. It’s a pity that I have to solely depend on my family to know about you. It’s a pity that I’ll never get to compare our handwritings in person. It’s a pity that I’ll never get to eat your Frankfurt pudding. It’s a pity that I’ll never get to see you scorn when I wished you Happy Mother’s Day. It’s a pity that you had to go too fast and too soon. It’s a pity that I didn’t even get the chance to say a goodbye.