“Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because dawn has come”
So said our bard Rabindranath Tagore.
But does the end of a life bring a bright dawn to the one that is left behind?- end of a life that was pulsating full of verve and vigour, end of the life of a personality known for his wit and humour, the end of a life led by the corporeal body that had come through two deadly diseases and exulted in its fitness?
Ramu had left at 4 .15 am sharp after the much appreciated sizzling cup of morning coffee made from pure peaberry seeds by his wife aka me. He was smartly dressed in his usual grey round necked T- shirt, grey track suit pant, blue wind cheater and white walking shoes. Still mulling over the previous day’s fabulous lunch given by Deckers at ‘Sattvam’, cracking a joke or two, he left jauntily for his early morning walk, saying as usual ‘Lights off’ (knowing full well that the expression irritated the superstitious me) as he switched off the drawing room light.
I was quite surprised when he had heeded my words and had agreed to walk up and down our road instead of taking his pre-bypass-surgery route around the Nanda Road, of course with his usual morbid witticism, “She wants to be the first to collect my body”. Recently he had increased his trips from 6 to 7 laps in the same time duration and was immensely proud of it. Sometimes he would naughtily cheat me by jogging a lap or two. Quite a feat for an 86 year old!
That morning when he did not return at his usual 5 am- on- the- dot, I wrongly surmised that he must have ventured on the 8th lap. With the least suspicion of what was in store, I stepped out of the gate expecting to see him coming down the road. But there was no trace of him anywhere on the road. I got worried and muttered to myself,”Where could he have gone?” The maid next door who comes early in the morning silently pointed to a bush a couple of yards from my house. Hoping against hope I approached the bush in the light and dark patch of the street light as it was still dark, to find my Ramu fallen prostrate on the sidewalk unconscious. Little did I know that he had gone into a terminal coma and would never open his eyes to tease me.
Not able to wake him up, I stood in the middle of the road like a lost soul and shouted desperately for help. The good Samaritans that our neighbours were, they came and helped me to transport Ramu to a nearby hospital. From there, our dearest daughter who had come by then with her husband took him to the Air Force hospital by an ambulance followed by Ramu’s brother and me with the medical records. There he breathed his last after a week without ever regaining consciousness. The doctors had appreciated the tough fight he had put up like a true soldier.
Ironically enough, an emergency cataract operation on both my eyes done a couple of weeks later introduced me to a bright, very bright dawn.