I have just returned from my school and my eyes got stuck in the corner of the small room, underneath the bed. It was a dated tinge red colored leather suitcase. I suddenly had the urge to open it. It’s a human nature the things that has been hidden from you become your object of obsession.
Suddenly I had all the flashbacks of the time when I first saw this beauty and got interested in it. As far as I remember I was some 4-5 years old when my grandfather came to our house for his annual winter hibernation with this red charmer. He was small heighten, heavy weighted and very fair and charismatic man.
He was a very social person unlike my dad. He has an aura of royalty. Wherever he went he was the man in command. This royal bag was his companion till his soul departed from earth. He was very possessive about his things, whether be it his torch which was kept under his pillow for night surveillance as he has the habit of getting up at late hours or his watch which he kept checking every now and then. We (my brother and me) were not allowed to touch his things. But still when he went out for his evening strolls my brother use to assume his torch as his car or sometimes he use to keep it on blinking mode making it a DJ light with me as a dancer of his creative stage. When at times we were caught red-handed, we were left by warnings never to touch his things again.
At times when I was alone at home I use to titillate it. To my utter disappointment I always found the bag locked. But the door to its secrecy was opened ritually once in a week, to check its belongings. The secrecy of the bag was maintained till the time my grandfather died of a paralytic attack.
I still had the vivid images of the things that happened on the day my grandfather left us. It was two days after Diwali (A bright festival for Indian’s), my grandfather was not keeping well from last two days and the doctor had already given us the final word. My grandfather who was a very lively person for the first time accepted his defeat in the face of death. I was having a sweet while my parents who have not slept for the last two days were taking a nap in the next room, and my aunt was keeping check on my grandpa. All of a sudden grandpa started moving and muttering something. My aunt called my parents at once and asked my mother to pour some Ganga jal (Water of river Ganges) in his mouth. My mother ran inside to get the bottle from our mandir (god place in home). As soon as she put a spoon of water in his mouth he took his last breath amongst us.
With it took procession of daha sanskar (death ceremony) and my parents left for our native place for the further rituals, which kept us busy for many days. In our country we burn the mattress and clothes of the dead person as we feel that a person’s soul is most attached to it. We do it to make the soul free from the worldly bonds. So the only memorable thing of my grandfather that was left to us was his suitcase. After a long time my mother one day asked me to help her in cleaning the room. I reluctantly started helping her in dusting. Unawareingly, I went under the bed, to my sheer surprise found my grandpa’s last possession. I persuaded my mom to open it. She after hesitating for few moments searched for its key in her drawer and then unlocked the undisclosed red suitcase.
As soon as it opened I found the memories that had been kept so neatly by my grandpa. There were lots of my father’s letters to him that he had dearly kept inside a pocket. There was his most loved Blue Kurta (a long knee-length shirt) and pajama, his beautiful handkerchiefs, his Gandhi cap, his Janoi (the sacred thread, i.e. worn from left shoulder to waist) and with it was a small piece of red cloth. My mom slowly uncovered it, we found two cotton balls and on unrolling the cotton rolls to our utter surprise we found small pieces of gold. I looked up at my mother, tears welled in her eyes. I didn’t understand the reason of her crying. I remained quiet, giving her time to be normal. After a long pause, she told me that my grandfather in his last time was murmuring ‘sona hai’ (gold is there) which my mother took as ‘Sleep’ because both sleep and gold have the same words in Hindi. In Hindu ritual we keep gold in wraps cotton’s in all the five senses of dead people.
Did my grandfather already know that he was going to die on this trip? Or he always kept it with him so that whenever he dies, he contributes to his death rituals. Is it that death is foretold to the people of great hearts?
The questions will remain unanswered till the time I see the life after death. But until then I will be happy to know that I uncovered some secrets of my grandpa’s life through his left red possession.