Skip to main content

In the Memory of A Little Girl

"Thus Nature spake- The work was done
How soon my Lucy's race was run!
She died and left to me
This heath, this calm and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be."
- Three Years She Grew, William Wordsworth

Death always comes with a bit of spirituality. Still, some sorrows are so close to the soul that wisdom can not wash them away. Post-funeral, no matter how much water we pour over our body, there is a bitter taste of ash and sand which remains at the tip of the tongue. 

I had first seen her when Nonu, my kid was in junior school, Five years back. That was the age when all kids look similar, similar miniature-esque walk of toy soldiers, similar eyes with bewildered happiness, running aimlessly around in the manicured school lawns, amid the quacking ducks. She was her classmate and older by few months. 

Quite soon she was regular at our place, her house situated close to ours. She was exceptionally talented in pencil sketches. She draw with the neatness way beyond her age. A Muslim girl, of happy countenance, she loved coming to our place every Holi and Deepavali. She would sit with us through the Lakshmi Puja every Deepavali. I would always wonder how they two, she and my kid, best friends, would grow up together. As she grew, her arrival and her departure to my place always resembled some turbulent tempest which was localized at my place. While Nonu will always be hesitant with the firecracker, she would always be the braver one, often so foolishly brave that she needed to be restrained. 

As is the wont of human mind, when things are well, we believe them to be eternal. But then, death arrive, dressed as innocent interruption in the business as usual. It was detected to be dengue. But then, it went bad; and later it went worse. She landed in the ICU of a prominent Private Hospital in the city. For nearly a month, she fought, always a brave soul. On the ventilator, she kept holding on to the thin thread of life. Till the day when she could not hold any longer. 

India, a country of a 100-billion plus souls, a population in churn, in eternal movement. Who notices a little heart which stopped beating? With dreams, undreamt; songs, unsung, she departed. The dejected father who would try to save his daughter from dust and dirt, buried her, his own hands throwing mud at the body, no longer her. I did hug him and wept in company. I did. I do not know why. Few weeks back, she had asked for Nonu to be allowed to go to her place for her Birthday. 12th of December, she would have turned Ten. 

Nonu remembered her and wept. I remembered the school sports day last week. A month back, she would have been planning for the event, always athletic and enthusiastic. And a month hence, she was not anywhere. On her birthday, Nonu wept. Then she was suddenly happy. I asked her why? She says- She had asked her what she wanted on her birthday? A frock, a shiny, stylish one- was what she wanted. Nonu says, now that her friend was in God's place, she could have any frock as there would be an endless supply of clothes. Nonu thinks her friend must be happy in the heaven and suddenly she is happy. My heart broke, thinking of the day, she will grow up and realize that death is a descent into darkness, into nothingness, from being to un-being. For now She is happy in the knowledge that her friend is happy with the God, and must be watching her from a distance. I tell her that death is the reason, we must value life more. We must value relationships more. We walk a thin tight rope and death is one miscalculated step. A thud, and darkness and then nothingness. 

I think of Nonu's friend, Suhani and I think of Rudi Steiner from The Book Thief. Only she did not have the hair the color of lemons. But she had the same zeal for life, and she also did not know as Rudi did not, as Death says in the book that- he was a month away from his death. I am sure, it Death was a person as in the Book Thief, he would have been as heart-broken at picking Suhani from our midst as he was while picking Rudi Steiner, A giver of bread and Teddy bear, a Hitler Triple Athletic Youth Champion. 
 I can still almost hear Death whispering in my years, the words from Rudi's death, and I believe He must be repeating the same words, at this moment-

"I carried (him) softly through the broken street..With him I tried a little harder at comforting. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in the bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry." 

I am sure death would have cried this time too. I mutter the lines I wrote.

"The devastating dice of death rolls in,
From the deep darkness of the night. 
The cruel, cursed, cunning fate 
crushed a child spirit, 
After a valiant and lonely fight. ..

A father's unbending frame, in a moment, 
bends, breaks and crashes,
As a tiny body is lowered into the Earth
And he returns, 
Dust unto dust and Ashes to Ashes. 
                                       (7th Of November, 2017)

(The Government tweaks the statistics on Dengue deaths in Delhi, but as we know the epidemic touches our lives, it is nothing but the worst form of lie).


Popular posts from this blog

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात
शरद जी रिटायर हो चुके थे। आधार का भय आधारहीन मान कर आधार बनवा चुके थे, और पेंशन प्राप्त कर के भोपाल मे जीवनयापन कर रहे थे। एक बार बिहार जा कर शरद जी नरभसा चुके थे, पुन: नरभसाने का कोई इरादा था नहीं, सो मामाजी के राज में स्वयं को सीमित कर के रखे हुए थे। इस्लाम आज कल ख़तरे मे नही आता था, संभवत: इमर्जेंसी के बाद से, इस्लाम सबल हो चुका था, और कल निपचती जींस और लोकतंत्र के ख़तरे मे रहने का दौर चल रहा था। न्यू मार्केट के कॉफ़ी हाऊस मे चंद बुद्धिजीवी लोकतंत्र पर आए संकट पर चर्चा कर लेते थे, जोशी जी वहाँ भी नहीं जाते थे। एक दफे वहाँ के मलियाली वेटर्स को जोशी जी के हिंदी लेखक होने का पता चल गया और उन्होंने जोशीजी को यिंदी यिम्पोजीशन के विरोध मे कॉफ़ी देने से मना कर दिया था। कहाँ शरदजी सरस्वती से ब्रह्मप्रदेश तक लिखना चाहते थे और कहाँ उन्हे बड़े तालाब के उत्तर भाग का लेखक घोषित कर दिया गया था। इस से क्षुब्ध जोशी जी अपने बग़ीचे मे टमाटर उगा रहे थे। जानने वाले कहते हैं कि इसके पीछे उनकी मँशा महान किसान नेता बन कर उभरने की थी, किंतु उन्हे पता चला कि आधुनिक किसान नेता किसानों को …

Know the Naxals- A brief look at the History

There have been many debates of late on the television, in the wake of the arrests of those who are now increasingly mentioned as the Urban Naxals. I am both shocked and amused at the same time to look at the audacity of the sympathizers of Naxal terrorism, in all their starched Saris and handloom Kurtas, when they hide behind the same constitution, that the want to overthrow. They are shrill, sophisticated, eloquent and deriding. They hate the common folks, and their disdain for those who work, create and make a living, peeps through their elitist smiles. They are mostly ideologues (yes, that is some work for sustenance in the modern scheme of things), academics and well, ostensibly, writers and poets. The fact remains that when communism is the scheme of things, Naxal notices mentioning Jan Adaalats in the villages of Chattisgarh too become work of art, and corpses hanging from the electricity poles, become equivalent of art work on the roof of Sistine chapel.
The other day, Ms. Arun…

A Husband's Views On Karvachauth

Today is the day of Indian, or should I say, Hindu festival of Karvachauth, much popularized by Bollywood. Initially a festival of Northern India, now it is widely celebrated. The festival is primarily of a day of fasting, observed by married women, praying for the long life of their husbands. As is the practice, the festival is marked by severe criticism every year by over-jealous atheists, fanatic feminists and bigoted secularist, who claim that the festival is patriarchal, regressive and anti-woman. If one considers those rants to be true, one would believe that there is huge amount of physical and emotional trauma that womenfolk are subjected to, in order to get them around to fast on the day.  However, if one were to visit any of the markets in Delhi, the scenario is quite contrary. You will find happy, joyous women on the streets of Delhi, excitedly visiting beauty parlors, with their husbands dragged themselves behind them, holding the kids as wife gets Mehandi to her hands- do…