Friday, May 26, 2006

In Memoriam

Old man Sam Prabhakar died on the 19th.
Dad only told me today.
What is it about old men dying?

Women going is different: you tell yourself, at some point the provider of food and napkins, and sweets and stories must go. Some other woman-- an aunt, a teacher, a friend-- will take her place. But old men are different: they die like winter afternoons, slow and cold, and the memory of them lingers like the way you find it hard to throw out that favourite pair of worn out walking shoes.

He lived one of the fullest lives around. If this was 356 AD, then men would have stood around clashing swords on shields, seeing his body float away on the burning longship.

I will miss him. He was a grand old gent, very old boy's club, with all the class and none of the frills. He's a member of my church... my parents' church. He never went though, was a member for his wife and kids. In the midst of sheep and goats and ragged coconut choir carpeting, in the midst of old marble walls filled with scottish names and middle class ideas of well, 'class', coming to this church left behind by bagpipe blowers, Sam Prabhakar was soda sprayed into a clean glass, ice cubes in good whiskey, and stories on a misty hill-side.
We never drank together, because I was Jimmy's little girl. So I got cola and soda, never coke, see-- But cola and soda, mixed.

The house was hung all over with trophies from his travels, kids and grandchildren in ever nook and on every couch, an old piano... first editions, a dog that died and an ancient mother living in another room, silent, white haired completely.

The first time I met him, he showed us around the house. We walked into his study, where he had a glass jar filled with semi precious beads and stones. He asked me to put my hand in and take a fistful, coloured pieces of opal, quartz and bloodstone that he would buy by the bagfuls.

He had his cajones till the last day. The reason I was always respected him was because he never let people hold his elbow, and murmur condescending questions about his digestion in his hairy ear. You couldn't bring this guy packets of Earl Grey wrapped in ivory ribbon.

I'll have a drink on you, uncle. And the only reason I'm sad is, when we spoke on the phone in December, and you asked why I hadn't come over to visit you, your voice had held that tired tone of a guy who's seen the finish line. You knew it, but you never mentioned it then.


I regret not coming over in December. I regret not hearing more of your stories from you. I regret not knowing if you ever did find the best dosa ever made, in madras. I regret that I'll be unable to show you my graduation photos.

Like apupa, you left too soon. God send there's good scotch in heaven.


the still dancer said...

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

Except that I wouldn't agree with the peccatoribus.

Pendulum said...

Very beautifully written. Evocative.

Heretic said...

God bless.

Manic Street Preacher said...

there are old poetries that always lie in the forgotten corners of youth and boredome...someone touched u in ways..someone left u wanting for more..and some old man u forgot to visit.
jus dropped by.


Dreamcatcher said...

Hey Priyanka,
I've read your blog for ages, its linked to Gul's and now to Saurabh's. You write beautifully, but I guess that's just a boring thing you must have heard like a trillion times.
Keep updating:)

Baliga said...

beautiful dude.. sometimes sorrow brings out the best in us.. a strength at times we never knew existed comes forth..

KaRuNa said...

Hey....small world i must say!.... Iv known Sam uncle and the entire family since my diaper days when i used to sit at the front of the boat looking at the big waves :D

small world :)

Fred Hose said...

To quote
"I regret not hearing more stories from you."
Your site is one to savour. I won't do so in unseemly haste. With many a sip of whisky in between.
So when the bottle is first half and then when empty, I'll come again and again.