Ya me despido!

Sandeep Rajendran (2010 ME)


“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget”.               – Arundhati Roy

Water rushed through my nose and ears. The air in my lungs pushed the water out from my nose. I could hear bubbles making their way to the top, only to burst into tiny insignificant fragments. Water! It was all over and I could feel it. I fought my urge to swim, so that I could feel it for some more time. Eventually, I had to give up as the air in my lungs started to flag caution. I gasped for breath after reaching the other end of the pool.

Fresh air gushing into the lungs. I could feel every muscle of my body de-stressing itself. I could feel the pressure draining out of my head. I could feel my heartbeat calming down. I could feel life.

One hour in water and I felt lighter walking back to my room. Seeing a puff of smoke emanating from a corner turn, I halted myself beside the railway track. The tracks started to shiver violently as a deafening whistle approached. My lighter body felt the tremors more visibly than usual while the train crossed over.

As the ‘X’ symbol disappeared along the curve, I saw flow marks all through the tracks. A funny fact which I have heard somewhere through my college days popped in my mind. The largest toilet in the world – Indian Railways, starting from Kanyakumari and extending all the way up to Jammu Tawi! ‘India is a developing country’. My parents learned the above sentence in their school days. I learned the same thing in my school and I am sure, my children will also learn exactly the same sentence from their teachers. ..Sigh!! I resumed walking.

Lying flat on my bed, I left my mind free. The soft, airy cushion of my laziness was punctured by a familiar ringtone from my phone. With a tired smile emanating from the corner of my face, I picked up the phone, totally unprepared for the oncoming news.

‘Hello’, I said in a sleepy tone.

  • Silence —

‘Hello achu…can you hear me..?’ I asked. Laziness still hadn’t left my voice.

Then I heard sobs from the other end.

‘Achu…what happened dear? Why are you crying…?’

‘Raghu is dead!!’ The female voice on the other end sobbed.

I froze!!

‘What..??’  I could sense the shivering in my voice.

‘Bike accident ….. …early morning 00.30 ….. …he was coming home from work ‘.

The sobs became heavier.

I could not talk. All I could sense in my body was my heart. The ‘Lub-Dub’ sound kept ringing in my ears.

My senses were brought back by the deafening cry of a pig being slaughtered in the neighboring slum. Once again I could hear the sobs from the other end. I dint know what to do. I dint know what to say. I tried to console her, but in vain. How can I console someone else when I myself am going through pain?!

The silence and the sobs continued for some more time. I mumbled some words of consolation to her and after a while hang up the phone. I was in pain.

I have lost my friends. I have lost my relatives. I never cried. But this guy, Raghuram, I hardly knew him. Yet I could not hold back my tears. For the first time in my life, I wept, hearing about a death. Of all the rotten souls in this world HE chose his. I wept like a child.

Raghuram Ramachandran, trainee reporter at The Indian Express. Our dads were classmates. He lives in Chalakkudy. He is an alumnus of IIJNM, Bangalore. Once I have talked to him and our conversation lasted only a few lines. That was all about him that I knew. And that was all about us.

Somehow the news of his death shook me to the core. I dint know why, but I felt pain.

For the past couple of weeks, without any particular reason, I started to track his posts and updates in Facebook. Even now I don’t know why I did that. May be because they tickled my interests.

He had the picture of Buddha in his profile. I admired Buddha. He was a true revolutionary. A man who defied logic then. A father who left behind his son. A husband who left behind his wife. A king who left behind his kingdom.  A man who set out to find the ultimate truth. A man who brought about a revolution…a belief…a new way of life.

From what little I understood about Raghu, he was passionate. He had the fire within…the flame of life! He did not simply exist…he lived.

My mind started to shoot questions to my head. I needed answers but I was confused. My only hope was my comrade. She also shared the same relationship with Raghu as mine. I started to talk.

Me: Heavyhearted!

Com: Me too. And then I wonder what people close to him are going through?

Me: Don’t know what to say or do…sitting numb. The demise of a likeminded soul         has left me handicapped!!

Com: I understand. I think somewhere along, he was someone like us. A little weird, a little crazy, passionate. He had a light within himself. Sometimes life takes you by surprise. And then you take a moment to value life and certain people in your life.

Me: Define justice.

        Define fairness.

        Define God.

Com: It is all subjective. But at certain points in life like these, one fails to find a definition that makes sense.

Me: Why do we get emotionally attached to certain people in life though we hardly know them?!

Com: I also have been wondering the same.

Me: I feel pain. How will his mother take it? How can a mother endure it? It’s the most painful thing she will ever see in her life. The body of her child lying still…cold in front of her eyes. I cannot imagine her plight.

Silence is banging my ears.

Com: Relax dear…please calm down. Shit happens but life has to move on.

It hurts so badly when his batch mates pull out these old group pictures and ‘share’ or ‘like’ it on Fb again today.

Me: Even death has become a celebration now!!


Ya me despido! It’s time to say goodbye!!

The ashes might be rising high,
the tears will be sinking deep,
Oh rebel! Yet nobody knows,
where your soul is breathing.
Except for the stars,
sparkling in the heaven!