You stepped into eternity
Left me in time’s purgatory
I tore up my past –
It was tangled with memories of you
Future petrifies me because of the void you left within
A thousand abysmal days have trudged by,
Tell me my son,
What should I do with my time?
The last leaf of autumn yellowed, curled brown, blew in the wind and rustled on a driveway in suburban Virginia. Ramesh stared at the fickle leaf absently for a few interminable seconds. Then he deliberately stepped on it, crunched it under the sneakers before going for a run around the neighborhood.
The trees stood bare, with skinny arms raised up to the skies in lament. The sun yawned lazily at the beginning of a crisp Sunday in early November. The neighborhood was slowly stirring to life. As he jogged through the sub-division, he wondered how many couple would be staying in bed, having breakfast as they made lazy conversation.
That was how it was for him until the final Sunday in summer; waking up lazily next to his wife, with the morning sun streaming through the bedroom windows. Right in the middle of that week, she announced that she was leaving him.
Ramesh was stunned by the bolt from the clear blue sky.
When Mr. Fix-It-All opened his store sharp at eight in the AM, a long queue of creatures was waiting in front of the store window. The first one held an old electric oven. The next one brought a broken heart. There was a man who waited in a ramshackle car, followed by a dog with a broken leg. As always, Mr. Fix-It-All tended to their needs with a pleasant smile and gentle touch.
He fixed the electric oven in fifteen minutes. He took the broken heart from the woman, examined it, and told her that she would have to return the following day, because the heart needed some serious nursing and he would have to mix a healing potion. The man in the car had his transmission fixed in half an hour, while the dog with the broken leg needed a little more time to be mended.
At one point he looked at the clock and saw the time was half past eleven. He stood up from behind the counter and walked to the waiting queue. He stopped by a young tree that held a broken branch and dropped a red ribbon behind it. The crowd waiting behind the ribbon sighed and dispersed quietly.
What do you tell someone who lost a loved one recently? How do you console someone in bereavement when, even the most eloquent of words seems trite and superfluous? These were the questions that arose in my mind when I rang up my cousin, who had just lost his father.
Although not very close, my uncle was a permanent part of the childhood memories of my summer vacations. His departure was sudden and came as a shock to me. So one can imagine the blow it dealt to his immediate family – my aunt and cousins. On the day before his unexpected demise, he spent most of the day in the house of his eldest son, who invited his siblings and their families, at his father’s request.
When I heard the news, I knew I had to call him to offer my condolences. That’s when I realized