Past Perfect


Dear Muthacha,

I hope you’re reading this letter. That it has reached you and been printed out in font size 14 or larger. That you are sitting on a sofa in the afternoon sunlight, with your magnifying glass, reading this letter for the first of many times.

I hope that wherever you are, they subscribe to The Hindu and not the The Times. That the Malayalam News still runs at noon every afternoon. I hope your cough medicine is working, that the weather is not too cold and that you found a quiet place to pray in the evening.
I hope the cordless phone there is always charged, and that it rings non-stop carrying thoughts and conversations from everyone here.

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been 3 weeks. It’s both tragic and optimistic – that somehow, life always goes on.

Over the last 7 years, I’d anticipated this day.  I’d wondered where I would be, who would call me, and how I would react. Every time I left home, I’d wonder if it was the last time I’d see you and try my best to engrave that image of you, waving to me from the balcony, in my memory.
My goodbyes would always end with a “See you soon, Muthacha” – as if saying that would keep you healthy until I was home again. I have always been nervous about leaving.

But despite my fears, you had always made it.
Every single time, you have been there to ask about my grades, my PAN card, my passport expiry date, if I’m reading, and whether I own a tongue cleaner. Every time, I would joke that you worked for the Immigration Authority – because you would ask for my passport as soon as I arrived and keep it in your suitcase for safekeeping until I left.
I hoped this time would be no different when I landed at 7:10, but you were gone at 6:30.

I’ve never been particularly religious. But I’ve always taken a deep comfort in your presence and prayers. At times when I’ve been worried about my safety – if I was out alone at night, or was in a car that was speeding, there would always be a reassuring voice in my head that said “You will be okay. God would never do that to Muthacha”
I never told you this, because if I had, you would’ve willed yourself into living forever.

You once told me that you were not afraid of death. That you’d lived a full life – that you were weak now – you could barely see, you found it hard to walk, hear and have a conversation.

“But when I think about how I haven’t seen you do your MBA, buy a house, or get married, it makes me want to live”, you said.
I will never forget that. That there exists a type of love so pure and unconditional, that it’s meaning comes solely from the joys and milestones of someone else.
That everyday for 24 years, I’ve had the kind of love people go lifetimes without ever knowing.

I hope that wherever you are, the clouds are clear, and you see that we are doing okay. That we talk about you often and look through old photos of us every now and then. That Amma is wearing your watch, that Ammama will visit me in Singapore and Lara has started smiling now.

Thank you for bringing us this far.
All you need to do now is just sit back, and enjoy the show.


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