By Shahamat Hussain:
When do you exactly know that you are going to die? Does God give you a hint? Does the universe tell you to meet your loved ones? Does your death call take you to the place where you want to be buried?
It was after my matriculation exam that I had to leave, for a wedding to another city with my father. At that time, I lived in a small town called Hazaribagh in Jharkhand where my parents had come to spend their retired life from Hyderabad. We had to board the bus late at night. My father and I left for bus stand. It was around 11 pm and there was no one else at the bus stop. There were few buses and motorcycles which honked around breaking the tranquillity of the space. The smell of chai filled the atmosphere. We both stood at the bus stop waiting for our bus to arrive.
I was really fond of my father. He was exceptionally nice to me, that particular day. Although my mother did not support the idea of me coming for the marriage because I had to travel all the way back to Hyderabad, but he shunned her, saying “I will take my son to the wedding. Both of us, father and son, will go for sure”. Perhaps he knew that I was tired of my exam and I needed a break. I was happy that I was going to meet my cousins after a long time.
While we stood and waited for the bus, he told me stories of how he travelled to his office when he was posted in Hazaribagh. He talked about his colleagues, friends, and his bicycle too. It was really moving to hear him speak about all of it. And when he did, he had a sudden pride and a substantial smile on his face. He was a 62-year-old man with good clusters of memories. He narrated how I troubled my mother and neighbours when I was a child. He told me stories about my siblings which made me smile and laugh, at the same time.
The bus came a little later and we boarded. I never knew that it was going to be the last conversation I will have with my father.
We attended the marriage. He was busy and so was I. The next day my train was scheduled. He came to drop me at the railway station. We were late for the train and the station looked very chaotic. I had a bag with me and my father had a packet of fruits which he bought for me on the way. We hurried towards the platform. I saw him sweating while we rushed towards the train. I realised he has become old but yet he was heroic. I kept my luggage inside and came out of the train. There was a minute left for the train to start. He handed me the packets of fruits and gave a peck on my cheek and said,“Whose son are you?” I smiled and said “Yours Abbu”. The engine made a sound and the train started.
I ran towards the gate and stood there watching him. There was a sudden peace in his eyes. He kept looking at me till the train disappeared. He waved his hands and with that, he was lost in the crowd, forever!
Three days later when I settled in Hyderabad, I got a call from one of his friend saying “Is it true that your father is dead?” I had no answers to that. I was not able to accept the truth. After a few days when I returned to my hometown, I was taken to his grave, where he was buried happily. Perhaps, his favourite city had called him home to rest.