Crow with phases of moon: Painting by Nancy Denommee
Sometimes I think that our life is full of cliche'-s. Not only in our conversations, but the whole exercise of living is cliche' -ed. It is when we try to break out of the cliche'-s that we find pleasure and happiness in life. Otherwise our lives remain, as B said, fatuous, mundane and insignificant. Yet sometimes these cliche'-s when uttered in the right situations, reveal to us the doors to meaningful existence.
J called me yesterday night. He is in his early forties. J is a colleague of mine in the Bank. Years ago, he had stayed at our outhouse while working in Trivandrum. Though a Malayalee, he had lived most of his life in North India. J is an exemplary chap. He is a great friend, but since we worked in different branches and he moved away to other places on transfer, our friendship could not develop further intimacy. We kept in touch; in the occasional hello-s, the warmth and affection in our relationship was kept alive.
J is in Patiala now. We asked after each other's family, our rides (J had once done the Ladakh trip on a Scooter!) and our work. I told him that I was now in Alleppey and felt miserable being away from Parvati and Trivandrum. Sensing my dejection, J immediately said- ' No No No, don't worry, it'll pass, it is just a phase of life, it'll pass'.
While trekking in the mountains, one of the unforgettable memories is about water. After a tiring stretch, one would be panting and leaning on to the walking stick; legs would be wobbly; knees would be almost tearing apart. And then you suddenly see this small gush of water, falling from a height, running down through a little forest of green bushes and all you have to do is to press your face against it and the icy water would be cascading over your head, blurring your eyes and trickling down to the insides of your jacket. You fill your hat with the water and put it over your head. Bliss.
When J was at Trivandrum, he used to bring his wife and son occasionally from his native place - Tiruvalla. His wife had terminal cancer and had to undergo radiation therapy at the Regional Cancer Centre. I remember her, the pallu of her sari draped over head. She was so frail and weak. Yet I remember the way she smiled at me, while J held her close. I remember the love that shone in J's eyes. J's wife passed away soon. J would have been in his early thirties at that time, but he never remarried. His only son has now completed his Plus Two and wants to study architecture.
A phase of life. I was silent over the phone for a moment, remembering all that, and how J has lived through so much pain. I remembered all those who have borne much suffering and yet survived another day. I closed my eyes and felt the cool, soothing stream running down and was at peace. The journey was not yet over.
************** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 15.07.2012