Saying Goodbye

Written by  //  October 9, 2015  //  Reflections  //  Comments Off on Saying Goodbye

This is a guest post by Ayushi Agarwal, a third year student at National Law School, Bangalore

Lucknow has always been my second home. After my grandmother’s death, my mom and grandfather shifted from Calcutta and permanently settled there in 1991. My mom says she bought every single light bulb, fan and painting in the house all by herself since my grandfather was busy with work; and did it all while she was pursuing her Ph.D. To cut a long story short, that house was my childhood getaway- where my grandfather spoilt me in absolute violation of the ‘How to handle kids’ Code prescribed by my mom. Over the years, the city grew on me- the regular visits to the zoo, the chaat at Neelkanth, the kebabs, watching the first day first show at SRS and shopping for Chikankari work at the Chowk. My grandfather continued to live there all by himself despite his rapidly deteriorating health, bound by the love of his neighbours and perhaps the peace he felt in the house.

Last week my parents informed me that they had finally managed to convince him to move in with us and that we will be putting up the house for rent. Although I was happy that he will be in our care, I was quite shocked- this felt like an abrupt goodbye. So as soon as my vacations began, we set off for Lucknow. The house looked just the same, except there was board hanging out the front which said “Available on rent, Contact”. Over the next two days, my family toiled through boxes full of paperwork, met neighbours, relatives and several interested tenants, while I mostly slept on my favourite sofa in the house, visited the corners I used to hide in as a child, strolled on the terrace and read the Readers Digest editions found in the store that went as far back as 1961. The night we were to leave, we discovered a huge box with my grandmother’s name written on it. It had her books, her own writings, her Ph.D. thesis, her astronomical charts, and her photos. I realised how our tastes matched as I went through her collection of novels, and how we would have made great friends if we had met. It was strange how cleaning this 24 years old house gave me the opportunity to meet my grandmother for the first time.

Soon it was done- the house was put up on rent, all the papers sorted through and the furniture sold. It was time to say goodbye. I felt quite tearful at the thought that this would be my last visit to the house, and in all probability, to Lucknow. Then I looked at my grandfather. I feared that he would break down, but he showed no signs of emotion. I asked him if he would miss the house. He simply  smiled and then went and sat in the car outside. I don’t know if he had already made peace with the situation long ago, or if at his age one understands the futility of attachment, or perhaps acquires the strength to overcome it. I didn’t shed a tear either. If he didn’t cry at the thought of being forced to leave the house he had built, loved and lived in for more years than I’ve lived on the Earth, how could I?

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