I got a call a few minutes ago, it is impossible to call it a call, all it was a monologue of half a sentence long. A string of words from him and an uneasy silence on my part, that’s what our conversation was. Can I call it a conversation I am not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that the feeling were genuine, even though my response was brutal and highly prejudiced.
Before I divulge what he spoke and what its implications are, I must tell you who he is and what he meant to me in another era. He is my cousin that much I am sure you would have guessed and here is more about my cousin that you would need to know to understand our relationship and its prejudices. I am willing to write about him only because I know he will never read it and even my stupid family will never stumble upon this, it will be buried deep in my archives waiting for an occasional visit and will eventually be forgotten. I guess when it comes to my cousin my ungratefulness extends to such a level that I could not even remember his name. May be its true that when relationships are forgotten through time and when they gets buried for so long in memory even blood shall lose its flavor.
He is cousin or nephew I know not which, I suppose I never got hold of their distinctions and I sure am not in a mood to look it up now. The fact it makes no difference what so ever to anything that I have to say or what I feel. His name is Vaishak and he is the son of fathers only sister. My father comes from not a wealthy family and he climbed up the social ladder (so he claims) on his own through much hard work and perseverance, hence his crude mannerisms. His love for book is perhaps the only personality trait I inherited from him or all I want to inherit form him. But nevertheless unlike him his family was not so lucky, I am not pretty sure whether “lucky” is the right word to use.
His sister’s marriage though happy is not with someone whose second nature is to have a rainy day account. This nature of his always left them at a state of perpetual poverty, never too rich never too poor either, kind of in the in between. This though in contemporary society is regarded as unfortunate, this has preserved in them a sense of innocence that is seldom seen among the corporate animals that roam the concrete jungles. They have simple taste and even simpler lives, something to envy I guess.
My mother has instilled in me prejudices so coarse that it took me 21 years of my life to clear the soot and look at it with any clarity of mind. Such has been the extend of the prejudices that I forgot that my father actually had a family. It was like things in a fairy tales that are too good to exist. But I must Say my mother is not a bad person but pride and ego can do terrible things even to the amiable of angels. Don’t hate my mother I beg you, she doesn’t deserve that, She was only protecting me from what she had convinced herself was bad. Nonetheless her actions deprived me from understanding life as it is in its raw form. Alienating me from people who were earthly and volatile the same. I had to learn the art of being contended at the smallest of things on my own, to cherish the wet mud that molds my feet and the sight of the rare blue butterfly or even the smell of the virgin earth being touched by the mighty rains hands. But I ended up spending one third of my life learning these things when I could have readily understood it all, It was all there just outside.
I still remember the time I had spent with my cousin, the times we bathed together when we were children in the small open bathroom with mulberry bush hanging from one side, Splashing water from the little tank that use to store the water from the well. The little garden with all the beautiful flowers and the tasty mulberry bushes. The many a wonderful evening spend playing in the faint stream that ran by the green paddy fields. I still remember the small aquarium he had, a small one, with so many little fishes in it. Nothing too fancy, no expensive fishes just the ones he had caught form the nearby stream. He had even taught me how to catch a fish with nothing but a plain piece of cloth, Alas! I had forgotten it, I had forgotten it long ago I suppose along with the sweet memories of that era.
It surprises me how much there is to tell, I never knew the faded photographs in my father’s old photo album had so much history, so many memories in it. I never knew that the characters in those pictures had a life and they were more than their innocent smiles and that they were ones very much alive. Strange what one phone call, a few minutes of someone’s voice can accomplish. I don’t want to tell anything, may be another time when I feel I am much more ready to face the truth of life.
He had called me now to tell me that he is going to Qatar, in search of a job. I am sure he got a job in there where his other uncle works, I did not so much are bother to ask what he is doing and what job he got. I did not tell him anything but I did pray for him, pray that all that is good shall only befall him and I prayed him Bon Voyage.