Dating : “ THE END OF WARS “ — by Abhilash Fraizer

h2>Dating : “ THE END OF WARS “ — by Abhilash Fraizer

It was a rainy afternoon. The soft murmurings of the guitar strings could barely be heard in the backdrop of the pouring showers. It was on that afternoon three decades ago that my grandfather, whom I called ‘Appappan’, came to the Oratory run by the Don Bosco congregation, to fetch me home.

With little music in the head, I dared to learn to play the guitar only because of my childish whims. I was about nine years old. With aching fingers, we came together on all Sunday afternoons for the guitar classes. When the teacher was away briefly, we stealthily slipped out of the classroom to play carom. Music and games were the perennial fascinations of every kid at Don Bosco Oratory, Vaduthala.

From the other room, you could hear the reverberating rhythms of the tabla. The violin evoked an ethereal emotion in the wind as well as in the minds. And the guitar played its enchanting soft notes like the throbs of a heart. It was into the heart of this musically rich atmosphere that the rain suddenly poured down thunderously!

Having no premonition of the mischievous and unpredictable rain, I had not taken my umbrella. Wondering when the rain was going to stop, and fondling my own fingers aching after their encounter with the sharp guitar strings, I stood there,alone on the balcony.

Then I saw Appappan coming from yonder, clad in his usual white shirt and dhoti. He had come to my home that day from our ancestral home, which was a few miles away. When he learned that I had gone to the oratory without taking an umbrella, he at once set out to fetch me back home.

Obsessed with my turn for the carom game, I was reluctant to go home. Surprisingly, Appappan waited for me all the while, without a word of displeasure, until I finally finished one game and was ready to go. That was the final living memory of him etched in my mind. A visual framed in rain!

When I reached home, enveloped by the tenderness of my grandfather, I had hardly any drops on my shirt or trousers; but Appappan’s left shoulder was wholly wet!

I began my journeys with my grandfather when I was three years old. We used to walk through the railway tracks; Oh! Those countless walks counting the sleepers! Actually I learned the basics of arithmetic on those numerous sleepers paved on the railway tracks on my way to and fro school.

An ardent admirer of Indira Gandhi, Appappan stammered like EMS Namboothiripadu during moments of emotional gushing.He was a labourer in the erstwhile Tata Oil Mills factory in Ernakulam; I often wonder how he managed to bring up nine children with his meagre income. I have heard a story from my father that during my father’s teenage, when he had no enough money to pay his college fees, Appappan sold his blood for money!

The death of Appappan was my first encounter with death. It happened on an Independence Day. I was not old enough to grasp the true gravity of the reality called death. But I knew on that day what death could bring to your life. He lay in the intensive care unit of Lourdes Hospital, Ernakulam, for a few days. Someone showed me his still face through the glass door of the ICU. He was there, unconscious and painfully weak. One August 15th, the sad news came. Appappanwas no more!

My father, whom I thought could never cry in his life, cried aloud like women. They had loved each other so much. It was on that day that I learned the depth and nuances of the father-son relationship. My father wished to be buried in the same tomb with my grandfather; had some strong men not held him tightly, he would have jumped into the tomb. He broke down near the heap of soil, while Appappan disappeared into the earth.

A melancholic silence descended and engulfed the front yard and the living room of our ancestral home. As years passed by, the stammering voice gradually took a back seat in our memory. Monsoons came and went. With no umbrella in my hand, I stood alone in the rain, listening to the melancholic musical strain of the guitar gently drizzling in my memory!

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