Of all the promises I have made in my life, there were two I was desperate to keep. Two promises I wanted to fulfill, no matter what. Both made to my grandparents.
And I failed to keep them both.
I wanted the two of them to be the first to see my published novel. That was my first promise.
I wanted to see the pride and happiness in their eyes when they read the dedication to them in the acknowledgements. After all, they had always been in my corner throughout my life, even when no one else was. Even in my darkest times, when existence itself was excruciating agony. They stood by me when I took the bold decision to quit MBBS and follow the call of my passion – to become a storyteller. A Novelist. It was to be my gift to them, after all, both of them were voracious readers, and Aaji had been oh so instrumental in making a reader – and later, a writer – out of me when she first placed a book in my hands almost two decades ago.
The other was a simpler promise – that I would take them with me to see the world. To travel the far corners of the land and marvel at the wonders hidden in the crevices there.
Well, gramps passed in February of 2010, and I failed in keeping my word to him. But Aaji was still here. I could fulfill those promises to her. I wanted to see the delight in her eyes as she saw her and gramps’ name embossed in my book, a piece of my soul given life.
Unlike last time,I had made good progress on fulfilling the first of my promises. My novel was complete. Aaji had been ecstatic to hear it, despite the 3 years it took me to write it. As always, she had been in my corner. The second draft was well underway too. I had made plans to take her on a long-deserved vacation in the winter, once the draft was ready. It was all going oh so well…
But Fate had other plans, and I lost Aaji three months ago. (I’ve been working on this piece since then, but the words haven’t been flowing, and everything is a rambling mess, and life is so much more colder, harsher, without her warming light to guide the way. The words are lost, difficult to find, but I must soldier on, for her).
On the 9th of September, she left mortal lands and ascended beyond the Pearly Gates after a tough but sudden – and ultimately fatal – fight against multiple diseases and organ failures. Once she was over the initial fear, she fought the good fight much like she had lived, showing true grit and determination. She had recovering well and on the way to safety, she had beaten pneumonia, heart troubles and kidney failure all at once, and was on the verge of discharge…only to be struck by a severe stroke out of the blue. Brain hemorrhage was the verdict. Intense, too powerful. ‘It happened with too much strength. It was too severe for us to anything.’ That’s what the whitecloaked Healers said.
Just like her life, when everything appeared to be going well, only for sorrow to strike from the shadows and bring her down.
And so, on a cold Saturday morning, I lost my Aaji. Now, both my promises would forever remain unfulfilled. Broken.
I’m not the greatest of believers in Heaven or an afterlife of Eternal Paradise, but if there is one, then I know she has met my old man and gramps there, and is already looking after them, much as she did in life. Always caring about others more than anyone ever did for her. A fighter until the very end, she faced her fears and damn near beat them, until it turned out to be one hurdle too much for her.
In the end, I hope she is at peace. I hope she has found solace. And I hope she knows how very sorry I am that I couldn’t do more for her.
Couldn’t even fulfill two measly promises.
I suppose I’ll have to do better in her memory. Use her strength and determination to guide me when the chips are down and when I want to down tools and give up. To remember to always do better, not just for myself, but for everyone whom I can, as she did. And of course, I must write those stories, publish them, and hope somewhere out there, despite my cynicism, there is a Heaven, and that she can see it, when it is done.
Until then, here’s one to the greatest woman I have ever had the good fortune of knowing. A woman of fortitude, moral fiber and strength unlike any other, who took all the blows that life gave her and returned only love.
Here’s to my grandma. May the lights of the stars guide her home.
Goodbye, Aaji. A rocker until the very end. You will forever be missed.