“And is there meaning to your life when you’re sleeping while you’re still wide awake.” He said that and that were the last time he said anything. My grandfather closed his eyes there and leaving me alone in that house which he had made home.

My grandfather was a carpenter when he married grandma. They had their first kid in the second year of their marriage and my father in their third. My father had three siblings out of which the eldest one died in a fire in one of my granddad’s godowns. My granddad with time, had constructed a fortune out of his small business which he started while he was fixing sofas for someone.  Starting as a handy man and walking from door to door to fix everything in less than two years he had started off his own small venture where he and four other people under him became the supplier of all the wood and furniture in Nevilain. I don’t know how he did it but damn it was brilliant. In the next two he had ended up with four showrooms in the area and three huge godowns. He now had a team of eighty nine people under him and was supplying furniture to other states. By the year 1967 we had become a brand “Norman Furniture’s”. That year marked the twentieth anniversary of the company which was now a nationwide brand.

In March 1968 we had riots in Nevilain. There were great repercussions, businesses shut down, godowns burnt, people killed. My granddad was a Christian but didn’t follow the religion in specific, his religion was success, his religion was his family, his kids and bread and butter. My grandma was a Buddhist and due to this all the three of their kids were given the opportunity  to choose any religion of their choice. It was hard for the kids to choose because of lack of knowledge, because of lack of comprehension and because as a kid, no one takes you seriously.  My dad’s elder brother had chosen to lead a sikh’s life because he got inspired by a teacher in school, where he read about how magnificent were the sikh’s and how much did they contribute to our freedom. So, while he was sealing off one of the godowns some people found him exit the godown. They followed him and grabbed him by his pagh. He retaliated but the effort was worthless because before he could move a dagger had been placed just below his chin. A small cut was made to make him realize that its all real and then in that dark alley they took him. Dragging him by his hair they took him inside the same godown which he had locked down. They tied his hair to a railing and made a slit on his throat. That didn’t really kill him but made him cover it with his hands. It was bleeding profusely and he was choking on his own blood and then the group of masked men left the room setting it ablaze. That’s how my granddad lost his firstborn.

The riots ended in the month of May by and by that time my dad was eighteen and his younger brother was sixteen years old. Now the fear had forced my grandparents to make the kids learn about all the major religions and lingual groups which might cause harm in times of a riot if you’re not with them.  The business started again after the riots, this time with a boom. Somehow, maybe god was trying to equalize the loss of a son with huge profits but that could never work.

My dad decided to follow nothing. No religion, no lingual boundary, nothing. He ended up mastering speech in thirty seven languages and could read and write in almost all of them. His upbringing had made him a lover of knowledge and he ended up in love with his history professor in college who was four years elder to him. No one in the family had any objections and they married after romancing for two years while my dad completed his college. He and ma were people who could get lost while talking about how Hitler lost the war to making conspiracy theories about the fact that no one ever landed on the moon. They had a plethora of knowledge and that was their world, that was their love. They read books to each other every night. That was their way of making love, showing love, enjoying their nights.  They mastered each and every subject they could, they were in the real sense of the word an “Encyclopedia”. My dad taught my mom the languages so that they could read poetry and prose in different languages. They travelled all around the world and earned their living by eventually writing for newspapers, magazines and about the places they visited. After a while they were invited by different tourism ministries which sponsored their full trip and all they had to do was write about the place. What a beautiful life it was. Just two souls, hungry for knowledge swimming in the ocean of life.

Eventually time passed and I was given the same choices as my father was. To choose a religion for myself. My father towards the end had found peace in Buddhism and had been quite content with his choice. Ma on the other hand was a Bengali and had always followed all her customs. Each Durga Puja I was present in all of their ceremonies and so was my father but it was so easy for my father to merge into that crowd that it was almost unbelievable.  My dad was like air, he was there everywhere and he could diffuse everywhere. Actually, he was like water, which takes up the shape of the container its put in. Whatever he was, he was brilliant. Whereas I really didn’t understand anything or maybe I barred myself from understanding anything because I didn’t want to belong to a single religion to give myself up and walk a path which I don’t know anything about. At times I tried to know what’s happening but that was after the whole of it was over. I generally used to sit in those grounds and gaze at the sky, which always mesmerized me and held me its captive each night when I looked up at it.

My dad and ma always kept reading and writing and giving lectures and what not. They were here today and somewhere else the next day. They knew everything about everything and that’s what was their passion and sharing that knowledge had now become their profession. The family business had gone to my father’s younger brother, my uncle who had turned out to be a quite successful businessman as a businessman but unfortunately he passed away after a truck rammed into his car in the hills from where his car got misbalanced and slipped into the valley. From what we hear there was a huge blast in the car and the police had a hard time even assembling the parts of it and uncle’s body was never found. So at an age of thirty six he disappeared into the valleys and started living a secret life or more conveniently died. My granddad had handed over the family business completely to him years ago and after a while had set his heart on travelling and romancing throughout the world with my grandma. When he heard of my uncle’s passing away he and grandma came and Dad and Ma also reached to comfort uncle’s family which was supposedly our family too which consisted of his wife, two kids and seventeen dogs. Yes, seventeen of them. All of my family had gathered together and we were mourning the loss of my uncle. A huge number of high society socialites were present, sipping wine and looking gracious in black and white. Somehow while it was a very sad occasion for my aunt, her kids didn’t really understand much of it. Each one started crying at different intervals and like a magician my father handled them.  My mother on the other hand organized everything from which coffin is to be selected to who all need to be informed and all the paper publications and what not. It was all over the television somehow, for a slight period of time but then someone had again spotted another celebrity walking down with someone else and the news channels were again oblivious to my uncle’s death and needed to know who the ‘Mystery man’ was. Out of all the people present there my aunt, the two kids and my uncle’s best friend were crying. My father was silent and for the first time looked a little less like water and more like ice. My mother was keeping herself busy in organizing everything and making everything perfect, she didn’t do this because she didn’t feel anything for uncle but maybe it was just because she didn’t want to keep her mind free. My Granddad and Grandma were trying to convince themselves that this had happened and using their rationale to sort everything in their minds. They looked ..calm. Somehow, they did. My great uncle who had “grown the family business and took upon his shoulders, the responsibility of holding together the family and a boy who had become a man much before his age” This is all I know about uncle because that’s all my father said, in a small speech at his funeral.

My uncle had left around seventy percent of everything to his wife and two kids but the other thirty percent was somehow on my name. I don’t know why or what was the reason which made him do that but yes, that’s what I was told. I really didn’t understand this well but I had lawyers running around me for days to get my signatures on multiple documents. Actually my mom signed for me as I was still sixteen and not adult enough to sign papers and memos. I felt I could, I had a little line of a moustache and ..that’s what makes you an adult? Doesn’t it?

So, now after my uncle’s death I somehow had mare family than I did when he was alive. Strange, but true. Now, my aunt and my cousins used to visit us more and sit and talk to my parents. My dad as usual used to flow into the conversation but my mother tried to put up the most superficial smile she could and sit and listen to the lower minds talking. She tried feeding some knowledge into the two cousin sisters that I had but she failed miserably. She believed that if I stay with them any longer then my IQ would also decrease to a minimal value. So, whenever they came over to my place, I tried helping them out with Math and Social Sciences and Sanskrit and actually each and every subject. I used to do their homework too. Not because they were a bully but because I was bored of doing mine or I had finished mine. I had finished my entire syllabus in the first two weeks after we got my books. I always did the same thing, until class eighth.

#Work of fiction.


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