The turbulence starts even as the flight is beginning to land in Nagpur. If it weren’t for the turbulence already on my mind, I would have been unnerved by the shaking of the aircraft. Nagpur is awash with unseasonal rain when we descend. It lashes erratically with the cold wind making eerie noises. The rain lasts for a few hours, till the cremation rituals begin.
Then we pack our bags and move to another destination. The rains continue. This was supposed to be the beginning of hot summer, wasn’t it? “Is it true that it rains unexpectedly when someone goes away happily?” asks my niece, who has just lost her father. I have no answer, except to ruffle her hair. But in the next ten days, it continues to rain. And we continue to lose family. That saying isn’t true. I wish I could tell her. People don’t go happily in the prime of their youth.
Each morning my disciplined niece wakes up at the dot of six. We take a walk on the terrace. Seemingly discovering calls of the flame-backed golden woodpecker and white-breasted water hens. But there are topics we are loathe to broach. Like Papa. We open those slowly. And then over the week, the list extends to Nana and Mama. I feel ill-equipped to deal with these issues, but do my best. Am I trying to distract her attention or is she trying to help me by studying according to a strict schedule?
We both sit together in front of the television screen watching cricket. “Who will I watch cricket with, now that Papa isn’t there?” she asks. “Do you even understand cricket?” I smile weakly. Fifteen minutes later she has switched off the television. “It isn’t fun without Papa’s whacky comments,” she says.
She opens her book of logical reasoning and asks me to try some puzzles with her. There are word and number sequences which we wade through. Then there are questions on dates, and clocks, and culprits. Logic? They say it is something very easy. But three deaths in the immediate family in ten days. Where is the logic in that? I see all of it being dissolved in the rain that descends from the eyes of those left behind.