Posted in Stories and Poems

Lost Innocence

An anxious crowd is gathered around the thickly covered body of a really familiar looking man. Nothing of his body is visible except his face which is devoid of emotion. He appears to be fast asleep. Beside him, hunching on the floor, is my mum, one of my aunts, and my Nani (my maternal grandma). The three of them are wailing and weeping, sobbing so hard they might never be able to stop. I am not allowed to go near them. All I know is that something isn’t right.

The people in the crowd may not have been there for all I know. It’s like all life exists in those three grief-stricken women. None of the onlookers are doing anything to calm their shaking bodies. I see brine glistening in many eyes. I cannot avert my gaze from the man in the midst of it all, lying there tightly bound, not moving. He looks really calm like he doesn’t care about the various people who are coming and gently stroking his face.

I walk away from them all, far back from it where my grandpa is sitting on a chair, looking just as sane as ever, just as calm. He takes me in his arms when I arrive.

“Who is that man, Baba?” I ask him.

He peers at me from behind his spectacles, and explains briefly, “He is your Nana Ji.”

“My Nana Ji?” I repeat. No wonder he looked so familiar.

“Yes,” he says. “Don’t you see?”

“Why is he lying like that, then. Why isn’t he moving?”

“He won’t move anymore,” Baba says.

“Why not?”

“His time in this world has ended. He will live with God now. He won’t live in this world anymore. He will live above,” he says, pointing up. “God has taken him.”

“What do you mean, Baba?”

“Everyone comes to live on this earth for a specific time. His time has ended, so he will not live here anymore.”

“But why isn’t he moving?”

“He can’t breathe. So, he can’t move.”

“You mean he is not breathing?” I say with wide eyes.

“He is dead, Vani. He will not breathe, not ever again.”

“You cannot breathe when you die?” I say, now no longer in his arms.

“Never,” he says.

“But how could he live without breathing!?”

“He cannot, that’s why he is dead. He has lived with us. Now, he will live with God.”

I don’t speak for a while so he turns his attention back to the crowd.

“Baba?” I say then.

“Hmm.”

“Why does he have to die?”

“He can’t live forever, none of us do. Everyone will die in the end. God will take all of us in the end.”

“Everyone?” I say, my breathing becoming rapid.

“Yes.” That’s all he says.

One of the people I loved the most in the whole wide world had just planted in me the seed of explanation of something that would grow swiftly and would haunt me for a really long time. I walk away, unable to get it all. My six-year-old brain failing to comprehend it all. I didn’t understand it. Not then.

Eight Years Later:

I break down in the back seat of the car. The stress of the day has been too much for me and I can’t take it anymore. I don’t even try to hide my tears so our driver sees me and exclaims, “Vani, why are you crying!?”

I can’t answer because what is there to say.

“Vani, why are you…tell me!” he says again, sounding astonished.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I manage to say. “It’s such a stressful environment. The whole day has just been…” I falter.

“He’ll be alright,” he says, finally understanding. “You are such a wise girl, why should you cry?”

He calls my father then and tells me that he will meet me on the way. We stop at Synergy Hospital, I don’t go inside. My father appears then. He doesn’t look tensed, just a little preoccupied.

They both watch me, and my dad talks about stuff that I feel doesn’t matter anymore, like what did I do at my friend’s house, how was my day. There are more things to worry about. I speak less, it’s hard to speak openly when my insides are closing with refrain from showing my emotions. I finally say, but it comes out more like a croak, “Papa, will Baba be alright?”

“Yes, of course,” is his instant response. He goes on to explain just how better his condition has gotten, and just like that, I feel better talking to him, hearing him speak with that tone of his that could never suggest anything but the best. Yet when the car moves on and I am back in the company of my own thoughts, I can’t shake off the feeling that all won’t be alright.

I understand now, all of it, more than I ever want to. And, in a sense, I wish I didn’t.

~Nehal


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Welcome to my site where I talk about all things bookish and from time to time, put my writing skills to test.

44 thoughts on “Lost Innocence

  1. Oh my dear Nehal. How much you have grown up from not knowing what death is to being able to understand the world, it’s endless cycle?
    You are wise and I love how beautifully and brilliantly you penned this post with all your heart, it’s evident in your raw words. Baba will be fine ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had the feeling of reading the same words somewhere, but convinced myself saying it was just a deja vu. I remember reading it and do you remember me telling that the posts you delete still show up in my reader?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a coincidence! I’m planning to write on the very same topic soon on my blog too. And I know this is deep, while us in the comments may just say it’s all deep and stuff, the emotions have been only lived by you, and none will get THAT part through this story. Had a similar experience though.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know death honestly. I have had no one close to me die but the more I grow up the more scared I get because I know I will have to deal with it sometime or the other and let’s face it no matter how old you get you are never ready to face it are you
    This was an amazing story Nehal

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Death is inevitable indeed, and we must brace ourselves to embrace it sooner or later. It’s like they say: it’s the circle of life after all.

    This was such a hauntingly brilliant story. I love how the child’s innocence and its states are depicted in this, it was quite realistic indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Honestly, I haven’t experienced the death of someone close to me yet. I don’t …know what death is or what being dead means and at this point I don’t want to. Its scary when I think that I will have to face it someday. I don’t think we’ll ever get used to it.
    This was so raw and touching, I don’t know what else to say.
    I hope you do know that you can always reach out to me if you wanna talk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Death is scary, but we shouldn’t worry ourselves too much with it or life will start getting scary.
      And I’m so glad you liked this, Akshita! ❤
      And thanks a lot, that means a lot to me, but uh, this is just fiction so 😅.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have experienced something like this..
    And it was so heart breaking that i have no courage left to face any other of that….
    You have expressed the emotions very purely…this deep, hear breaking but an inevitable truth

    Liked by 1 person

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