The Gulf Between Generations 

Author: Priyanjana Das
The day I came to know about grandpa’s illness I was anything but shocked. At the age of ten the only thing I was sure about was that there are two kinds of people in this world- good people who always go to the angels and bad people who always go to hell. Since then it became my favourite pass time to judge people around me and point them out as Heaven or Hell. And grandpa had made himself a place in Hell where he was about to go now.

 

I was the only child of my parents an was brought up with great love and care. I had the best father in this whole wide world who would bring me all the latest gadgets and the most costly cars available. We alreay had a Mercedes and a BMW in thedriveway  of our double storeyed bungalow. My mother was a college lecturer. Even if she coul not spend much time with me, Sheetala mousi, my ayah used to take care of me. She literally bowed down to me, adressed me as Saheb and at loade me own with the most delecious dishes. The outside world was too small for me. It was in my house, that I found the solitude an the dignity a young man of ten deserves. It is not that I was a spoilt chil though, I was extremely polite in front of my relatives and they called me a gentleman just like my father. To make a long story short, I was a happy little child with a world of oppurtunities.

 

It was about 4 years ago that I decided that my grandpa was going to hell. That day it was quite sunny outside so I was not allowed to go out to play (not even after applying sunscreen). The month of June in Delhi is intolerable. The hot and ry winds that seem to suck out even the slightest of moisture on your skin makes it hard to step out of your air conditioned bedroom. So I decided to take out my playstation 3 which father had got me yesterday and play a few games. I went out to get the box when there were footsteps behind me, sharp an furious. It was grandpa. Now my relation with my granfather was not a very good one. I had always pictured him as this grumpy old man sitting in his room doing nothing. My ayah always used to tell him to talk to me, his only grandson. But he only looked at me, his eyes melancholic and sorrowful. At first I was afraid of him but then I decided that his face was like that only. He used to talk to my father so harshly too. One day I saw him picking up a belt and storming to hit my father, I screamed to make him stop and he sloped his way into the tiny room at the top floor. I was scared to death when I had to go to the top floor every year to put away my old books. I used to peep into his room and only if I catch him asleep would I tiptoe into the store room to dump my books.

 

The footsteps neared me and in a few minutes grandpa was there right in front of me. His back slightly drooping and his face an unending mesh of wrinkles, he frowned at me.

“come I will read you a story” he said

Now this monologue only seemed exciting. He said this in the same harsh whisper which he used with the whole family. I gasped for breathe and replied

“I was thinking of playing games” I stammered “y-you want t-to join?”

He looked at me intently and the next thing I knew, he picked up my playstation and threw it out of the window!
I was taken aback. Tears rolled down my eyes and I ran to my father to tell him what grandpa had done. He just clamed me down that day.


The next morning father was taking grandpa out. I asked, “where are you going daddy”

“I am going to leave your grandfather at an oldage home” he said

Now what place was this oldage home I wondered and ayah whispered into my ear that it was almost a hellish place and only bad people go there. Since the I decided, grandpa was bad enough to go to hell. After that day I never got to see my grandfather. My parents were rarely at home and ayah always gave me ideas about this hellish place where only demonic, old people lived. Those who did not behave properly with their families. Grandfather just became a sad picture in my mind which slowly began to fade away. It was as if he was never there.

 

Today, almost 10 years later I stand out side the ICU seeing my grandfather covered in rubbery white pipes and breathing heavily through the oxygen mask. He had got a heart attack last night and was brought to the hospital by a few of his co mates. He did not look like that fiery and rebellious old man now, he was a great deal paler and looked a hundred years old. I was pushed into the room. The thought of being there with grandpa alone was still giving me creeps.

 

Grandpa was staring at the ceiling, wide awake. I gulped and called him “grandpa?”

“whose there!” he shouted

I shivered and turned around to go. This man was still the same, perhaps that is why my parents did not come to see him!

“wait, saksham!” he called out

this was the first time in years that he had taken my name. I turned to look at him. Those pale cheeks and wrinkled nose. He smiled at me and handed me a few photographs with shivering hands. “ I am sorry for everything, for not giving you the love of a grandfather. But you were always so involved in video games and in all those modern day gadgets that you did not know anything about the world. Yes I did lose my temper at times with your father, that he nevere gave you time to do anythin adventurous and left you with that ayah…”

“ grandpa!” I was crying now, how long has it been since he had shared anything with me. But now his breathing faltered..

He held my hand tight. “ Tell me you forgive me!” he was struggling for breathe and that one in which his heart seemed to come out, was his last. He died in his family’s arms, in my arms.

 

I picked up those photographs, those were my photos when I first learned to walk, to ride a bicycle, my first school days and many more. He had every moment captured. Every moment whem my parents were not there to celebrate with me. I held his hand and cried.

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