Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Ephemeral Vigil

"We must realise and be ever conscious of the fact that life is fugacious and ephemeral." This is how the usage of fugacious is presented in the AWAD entry. I look up for ephemeral in wordweb dictionary (which I recently installed at a suggestion from K).
Short-lived, here today and gone tomorrow.
It reminds me of Ugly. I try to shake the thought away. I look at the date of the AWAD email. Its 15th of August. I am thinking I should have checked my email earlier and read this. Maybe I would have felt something was about to happen, maybe I was about to see the usage of the word in the real world. Then it comes to, it is 15th of august 2008. It has been two years. Reading the email on time would not have changed anything that happened. The email is two years late. I wish I could be mad at Anu Garg for being two years too late.

As if he knew someone was going to blame him. He has answered the accusation in the same entry. A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The conscience of the world is so guilty…. Yes, it is the guilty conscience that keeps me reminding of the incident but there isn’t much that I can do to wash away this guilt. I think it is for this reason I have started looking further back in the time to memories that are pleasant that do not remind me of the things I want to forget. The events that I know changed me a little, may be more, but the events that changed the lives of many around me and in worse ways and at some level I was to blame for those happenings. These are the events I try to forget, to run away from. I could have affected the events, if not fully, in certain small significant ways. Who knows what could have transpired after, but anything would have been better than what it is today. May be I am just being a fanatic and thinking it all wrong but I guess the heaviness in the heart says that it must have been better, somewhat better, but for me.

I try to think of the times I was young, just to keep away from those significant events, but every time I try I fail.

It was after the call from his cousin S and when everyone had rushed on bikes to the hospital. There were six of us with two bikes. With some apprehension we could decide on the second driver that night. I rode the bike as fast as I could, hoping against hope that what she has just said was not true. I knew the route Ugly would have taken for home. We got out of the Shushant Lok, turned right and started towards the Metro Mall. The road was pitch dark. I always used to slow down on this part of the road but today I could not. Even in the dark we, against our wishes and fighting our fears, could make out the white which we did not want to. The car has been moved and was parked on the side of the road. The front right was all crushed. At the first glance all were aware that it was hard to survive that accident if you were in the driver’s seat. We were all scared to speak up this at the moment. Somehow without a word being spoken we moved on further to find the hospital where they had taken Ugly. Every body had a general idea of the hospital’s direction. I do not remember who was guiding me but after five minutes of most difficult driving I had ever done we reached the hospital. I do not remember the name of the hospital. It was named after someone is all I have remembrance of. We ran in as fast as we could. Running fast still in hope of holding his spirit back, preventing it from departing. It was too late.
I remember staying awake all night on many occasions. However, I had never stood a guard of the dead before. A dead friend. We were all there outside the hospital. The hospital authorities wanted to get rid of the body. Someone argued and somehow managed to keep the body there. Ice blocks were arranged to preserve the body. Preserve it so that parents can find there dead son in an unspoiled condition. Relatives were informed, friends were called. Many came, saw, some mourned, some were silent, some stayed, and some went back. Everyone had an opinion, everyone had a different observation of the dead, everyone had a new way to explain the injuries, everyone had the same questions for us (who were with him the last), we had no answers for anyone, everyone had a judgment to pass, an accusation to make, a sympathy to give and some of them had a tear to shed.

Sometime during the vigil I remembered calling Saurabh. Me and Saurabh were with Ugly at his last meal. Ugly has called him and said that he was bringing a present. I was wondering what is going on when he rang the door bell and hid behind the wall. Only when Saurabh said that this is the gift, pointing at me, I realized what Ugly was upto. It was a long time since I had last met Saurabh. It was to be the last gift of his life. Saurabh was as shocked on hearing what I had to say as every friend will be in coming few days. But he was more composed when he arrived. He knew better about what was to be said and what was to be done. I think his presence there was a comfort, at least for me.

At some point in the night V arrived at hospital. She did not have the courage to go and have a look at Ugly. “No. Not him. Not in a road accident. He was such a safe driver.” She refused to believe he was gone. Probably the best way to console yourself. Deny the dead the right to be. A was trying to console her as best as he could. I thought of saying something to her but even in death propriety demanded not to say something to a girl I had never met before. In the days that followed I remember wishing her the best for the future.

We kept the vigil whole night and most of the next day. Ugly’s parents were in Shimla when the accident happened and they reached Gurgaon late in the afternoon. Whole day we stood there. Some went back for a while to do whatever they had to. Most of us just stood there. I went in the room where they had kept Ugly one or two times. To see how he was doing. To give him company before he was turned into ashes and dust. That night he looked beautiful. More beautiful then he ever looked before. He had a radiance, a serene glow about his face.

Sometime before his parents arrived I felt water in my eyes. I had held on for a long time. There were many who had broken at the sight of his dead body and there are many who held on during everything. I moved away from the crowd and in the corner of the road looked up and let the tears fall. I hated God at that moment but asked Him to keep Ugly well.

It has been over two years now. Every now and then the memories come back. Things would have been different if that night had been different but that’s the way life is. Vogacious. Ephemeral. What’s left behind is memories. Thanks Anu. For the new word, for the old memories.

No comments:


Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....