I was sitting in my garden watching autos and cars moving recklessly. The sun was going down toward horizon. Darkness was creeping in the sky. I was engrossed in my thoughts, thinking about telepathy, so I had not noticed Lulu, my parrot. He was perched on the empty chair near me.
“Dusk is the time to reflect” Lulu said, “When you sit quiet at the end of the day, you realise that darkness has set in, but insight has grown clearer.”
“You said it, Lulu” I sat up as I chewed a toothpick. “I am feeling rather gloomy ever since I called up my friend. His wife answered who had the bad news for me.” I threw away the toothpick.
“I understand you. When I saw you putting down your mobile I knew instinctively that you had heard something unpleasant. What’s that? Tell me.” Parrots instinctively empathise, I have experienced this time and again.
“She said he had a brain tumour. Almost inaccessible, and fast developing. The family and doctors had given up hope of his survival. Somebody from their family picked up phone from her hands as she could not speak further.”
“Tut, tut! His wife!! She must have been in deep sorrow herself.”
“Yes. The man who picked up phone from her said that the family was praying for his early ‘release.’”
“My prayers for your friend.”
“We worked together for a long time. He was my colleague. We struck a good bond. We often talked over phone after his retirement. He retired ten years ago. And the frequency of our contact gradually reduced.”
“It often happens that way. And one day we suddenly remember our friend and call him up.”
“Yes Lulu. I had not spoken to him for three years. It was his birthday last week. I suddenly remembered him and called up.” I chewed another toothpick and threw it away.
“You of course did the right thing, but you must not have expected this jolt.”
“The problem is that we know that all have to leave this world someday, yet we feel that our friends and relatives are immortals.”
“You put it so well.”
Lulu hopped from the back of the chair on to the arm, looked at me and said, “Do you know what PG Wodehouse said when he was informed that his daughter was no more?”
“He said ‘Oh, I thought she was immortal!’”
“A father never thinks that his daughter would pass away before him. And we think none of our friends will pass away before us. Immortals! Hmmmm…..I had spoken a few soothing words to my friend’s wife. That was all I could do. Consolation by the helpless, of the helpless.”
“Tell me – What made you give a call to your friend whom you had not spoken to in the last three years?”
The traffic had come to a standstill. Motorists were honking, they make such a noisy group. Nobody knew what had caused the hold up. Suddenly it stopped. Traffic moved like a crocodile on the river bank.
“I remembered him on his birthday.”
“You did not remember him on his birthdays the previous two years.”
“No, I did not remember, I regret I did not remember.”
“But you remembered this year.”
“Yes, what are you driving at?”
“Those who are about to leave this world communicate with those who are close to them. They somehow make you remember them suddenly.” Lulu hopped on the arm of my chair. The autos and cars has switched on their headlights. One could see silhouettes of moving vehicles and their beams of light.
“Now that you say this Lulu, I realise that I had a strong feeling when my father was taken for a simple, routine procedure in a hospital. I had panicked, feeling that he may not return. And he never did.”
“Yes, and a similar feeling on the day before a certain gentleman whom I had held in deep respect passed away. Oh, how helpless I feel. What can I do? Why does this happen?”
“You can’t do much. And nobody can explain why this happens. We can only make a meaning. They come to say good bye. You can express gratitude for what they gave you – deep affection and friendship. Take deep breath, say your prayers and thank the Lord for such people in your life.”
It was dark now. The yellow sodium vapour lamps had lit the road. The traffic was moving slowly. The traffic police was in action controlling it.
Vivek S Patwardhan