It is amazing how certain memories we can never forget. I personally am very forgetful of things. But I guess I remember emotions. The stronger the emotion the greater the chance I remember it.
One of the clear childhood memories that I have is this.
We lived in a small 2 bed room flat.5 people- a typical Indian Middle Class family. We had a small Indian style loo (that we referred as latrine) and the other small bathroom for the shower, that also had a western pot (not furnished enough but still, it was there) As dadu (grand-father) grew old, he used to prefer going to the western one because it was impossible for him to sit for that while on an Indian one. He used to talk about it at times. Also because of his age, it used to take him longer time for the morning call.
When I started with the High School, which was a morning school, I was to use the same bathroom for shower and all at 6:00am; about the same time when he’d have to go. There was a definite problem. We tried working different things. Sometimes, I’d take a 5 minute quick shower and at times he’d control and wait till I came out. And then there were times I used to wait till he is finished and then get ready which made me late for school. I started waking up a bit early to cope up. A very self-respected man that he was, to avoid inconvenience to me, he started waking up at 5:00am. Every day.
I remember this incident very clearly. This day he somehow woke up at 6:15. He was late and needed to use the loo urgently. I was in taking a shower. He knocked on the bathroom door and requested me to make it quick. I obliged. But by the time I would come out, he had already gone to the Indian one.
I remember that scream, clearly. Mom was shouting…
Aarti! Come out, look what has happened!”
I wrapped a towel and rushed outside, oblivious of the extremity outside.
Dadu had fallen in the toilet. His voice sounded like he was half conscious. Within the next minute, Papa rushed and got a huge rod from the balcony and after 2-3 attempts, broke the door.
He carefully broke the hinges and put the door aside. There lay my Dadu. Semi-conscious, murmuring something that we couldn’t possibly decipher and I remember there was a lot of blood around him He must have hurt somewhere around his thigh when he’d have fallen.
Mummy, Papa and I; all of us were hysteric. All of us had tears in our eyes. Thank god, my dadi (grandma) had gone to the nearby temple then. Papa carefully leaned against him and slowly made him get up. Together, we took him to his room. He became fine in a day or two.
I was right there crying hard. He looked so weak! I had never seen him this way before. He was my hero, after all.
We’ve seen many rough days. I remember very few of them though. They didn’t let it reach me somehow.
That day, Papa vowed to build 2 separate bathrooms in our house, in spite of the bad financial back then. “Anyhow” he had pledged.
After a few months, we could get our house renovated. There were two bathrooms now with attached western toilets.
And one of the biggest regrets that my dad will ever have is that Dadu could not live up to that day. He had passed away during the same renovation period.
As far as I am concerned, it’s been close to 10 years and I still get nightmares about that morning.
All of us have such memories of our past. There are some things we wish we could remember; those we somehow eventually forget while some memories stubbornly refuse to go away. How we wish few things we could get over with some of them! But we should know, not everything has a happy ending but we live to survive whatever is left.
Yes, whatever is left.