When someone gave me an entangled yarn to unwind!
I found my hands getting muddled up in-between!!
I couldn’t stand up that puzzled state and finally gave-up!
Of the reason that I had to leave as time was my constraint!!
At once, I left that bundle of confusion with countless knots!
But here I was now in my own state of confusion, the life!!
I was seeing so many knotted yarns in front of my eyes!
Not of thread but relationships, in fact…Just how can I ever solve them?
The yarns of life, of emotions, of relationships I behold!
In reality, most of them look nothing like once they were!!
Image Credits: Charcoal drawing by Duane Eells, 2013 (http://sketches.eells.com/)
Not me but even all of us I believe will ever be able to solve these ‘yarns of life’
The time will pass away and all of them will remain stories untold!! Well, most of them!
“We all have to deal with puzzles in our lives, ones that would not solve that easily because we do not have that missing part or may be with time we lose the zest to solve the puzzle itself!”
This is a story about one of the most precious and a memorable relationship that I had in my life. It is a story about my Mamu/uncle (mother’s brother) named Aamod. I never had an idea that one day I would be writing about him but the way my relationship was with him is the biggest impact even today in my life. I need to share this story!
Mamu was one of the coolest person that could ever be met. He was a motor mechanic and used to repair motor machines, most of them being the machines used to make butter (they were known as ‘Goltu’ in native language of Kotgarh, Himachal Pradesh- the place where Mamu lived). I would not like to hide this fact that his talent was not limited to butter-making machines.
Once, as I can recall he took me in a utility vehicle and collected three damaged motorcycles from their respective owners living in nearby villages. He opened out all of those machines, each and every screw and part of them. By evening, I was getting this feeling that Mamu has probably gone mad. The very next morning, I woke up with a sound of a motorbike. I hurriedly got out from my bed and saw Mamu accelerating an all new motorcycle!
So being with Mamu was fun and a lot of scolding as well because I was the kind of person who never understood technical aspects of objects. I was more prone to like art, plants and animals. Still, Mamu used to make me work as an assistant for him and I loved it whenever I visited my grandparents’ during my winter breaks (I used to have winter breaks in my school as it was the time when the landscapes used to get covered with lovely white shining snow all across Himalayas, Shivaliks to be more precise). So I used to have many memorable winters along with my grandma, grandpa and especially Aamod Mamu.
During one of the winters it snowed too heavily and as a gift Mamu built a wooden snow sledge for me. I enjoyed too much with that one little gift and surfaced snow terrains like a surfer on ocean waves though I had quite a few falls and a dozen of wounds. At the end, I was just thanking Mamu with all my heart.
Aamod Mamu also used to take me along for hunting expeditions where we used to search out for Himalayan Snowcock (It is one of the finest bird to see which people like to hunt in Himalayas though the practice had now been banned and stated as illegal). Mamu’s hunting object used to be his air-rifle and he actually hunted a whole lot of those snowcocks. As I used to be a vegetarian at that point of time in my life, I never enjoyed hunting Snowcocks and seeing Mamu make them his dinner dishes and fondly eat them along with his friends. The only reason of joy for me on such hunting travels was that used to get an opportunity to explore alpine forests which fascinate me till today. Even today I have clear pictures of ferocious animals like wolves, brown bear, leopard and other small animals we got to see during our alpine expeditions.
Altogether, Mamu was a magical person to me who always had a new thing or a new activity to display. Though that was not all that Mamu was. He had Leucoderma (The most common form is non-segmental vitiligo, which tends to appear in symmetric patches, sometimes over large areas of the body). Well, for people who loved him for what he was, his condition was normal but he himself lived with a great agony. I knew him as a shorty fellow with handsome features and the mix of white and tan color of his body was something special for me. Though Mamu never frankly discussed how he felt but I know he used to feel conscious about his looks.
Anyhow, there was one thing about Mamu which actually bothered everyone. Many a times, he would lose his temper and remain in hallucination because of the alcohol and drugs he used to consume. As I grew up, seldom I got the chance to have a conversation with him. After completing my matriculation, I moved out from my village to Chandigarh, in order to pursue my further education. Soon my meetings with Mamu went too little.
I can clearly remember… how can’t I? It was one beautifully bright day of April in 2002, I was going to meet Mamu after almost a year. As I entered the premises, (Oh, I forgot to tell, my grandparents had an exquisite apple orchard where even Mamu used to work his way with apple trees and a few of vegetables) I was greeted with mesmerizing beds of blossomed flowers. I saw Mamu working on a daisy plant and ran towards him. Upon seeing me, he had a big smile on his face with his tarred teeth resulting from his usual habit of smoking. I loved that smile and I will never forget it.
Even though two of us met after such a long duration, Mamu had a conversation with me just like I had been there all that time, with him. I believe this is the beauty of great relationships, where time and distance never make people feel like strangers. After a daylong round of chit-chats, I realized that world has changed for me but not for Mamu, of course. He is still there, bringing out his magic tricks out of his magic hat which none bothered to witness. The very next day as I was about to say bye to him, I saw lines of tear drops perched on his eyelids like a silent pool of emotions. We both could not say much and soon I left.
While on the bus to Chandigarh, Mamu was all on my mind. He and I had a long conversation the previous night where majority of the time he remained the orator. Mamu had told me about how frustrated he feels at times. One because he has no companion and two because he never got well with his father (my grandpa who also happens to be a miraculous man but for him I will need to write yet another story). There wasn’t much I could have done to help Mamu at that point of time and pretty soon I was again lost into my world with no thoughts of Mamu in my mind.
It almost took two long years for me to see Mamu again without knowing that it was the last time I was going to see him. Again it was the month of April but the year was different- 2004. After enjoying one week of vacation with my parents, I left to meet my grandparents’ house. I started from my home quite early in the morning.
My most preferred mode of journey used to be walking through a Deodar jungle (which also includes the opening shot site of Piya Basanti Re Song which was quite a big hit album sung by Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra) few small villages, narrow passages through apple orchards. In April, if you get chance to visit Kotgarh region you will see a lot of green landscapes all around you and one can even find rare kind of mushrooms known by the name of Morchella in English and called ‘Chaeun’ in local dialect. I never found any of Morchella, but Mamu and his elder sister (my mom) were lucky enough to trace them out in terraced lands.
Once again, I was at the most precious place in my life, the place that holds many of my mischiefs and also my learnings about life. There can never be a place like the place where your grandparents’ live. I did not spot my usual companion at the very first sight- I yelled for Mamu, but there was no response. Anyhow, I went to meet the rest in the family. Grandma prepared a delicious lunch for me flavored with her homemade ‘Desi Ghee’. As I enquired about Mamu, Nani (the common Indian name for Granny or Grandma) told me that he remains in a very different mood these days but will soon be seen at his garage.
Hoping to see Mamu and as per the indication of grandma, I went to the Mamu’s garage and sat there on his chair. After about one hour I heard a call from outside- ‘Hey Harsh, so you are here!” It was Mamu as I could recognize his voice even in noisiest of the places. I came out of the garage to see a lean looking man with an overgrown beard and lots of cuts and wounds on his hand. I was surprised and still shocked to believe that it was my Mamu only. He was drunk and hugged me tight. He looked shattered to me and I had no idea that his loneliness and frustration will bring him to such a form.
Later in the day, I saw one of the most shocking incidents of my life. Mamu burnt his garage! The whole of it!! It was too late for me and rest in the family to derive any solution for the problem we saw flaring in front of us. Grandma almost fainted and grandpa looked tense. I ran toward the garage and saw Mamu coming out from the smoke around, in his hands were three little newly born kittens. I suppose they were given birth by their mother in Mamu’s garage only. He placed them on the ground and repeatedly slapped me saying that why I do not see him frequently now. I was in a shock, as I never thought that I meant so much to him or maybe I forget everything as I went with the flow of my life.
It wasn’t because of me that he created all of that macabre scene but maybe as he saw me after so many days, the emotional outburst within him was set loose. It was a nightmare for me and I felt choked to say anything. My eyes felt watery and it was like I lost my vision. Soon I realized that Mamu has walked away from the scene. I could not trace for the way he went and at that moment, I just thought of not following him anymore. I bid a farewell to my grandparents’ who were equally shocked to see their son losing out his mind like that.
What started as a beautiful day of the walk to my grandparent’s house now felt like a horrifying path to me! The apple trees and their branches looked as if ugly claws of witches, the Deodar trees appeared like huge devils as they swung with the wild breeze in the evening time. I reached my bed at home and cried under my quilt. The fire flames haunted me for a long time…
No one today knows where Mamu has gone. My grandparents’ by the grace of God are still enjoying health even in their old age years. I live at Noida, with my beautiful and loving wife Reeaa who reminds me of Mamu at times with her fun activities. She even scolds me sometimes as if I am a kid, but every time she does that I remember Mamu and I love her for doing so.
There are days now, when I get tired of work, enjoy with my friends or just go on an expedition, but I do miss Mamu, my icon for this life. I know he is out there, somewhere, but he do not want anyone to listen to his share of griefs given to him by life. He is possibly combating alone with his loneliness. On certain occasions, I get awake in the middle of the night thinking about him. I wish I would turn back time and spend some more of the time with Mamu. God knows what will be his magic trick the time I meet him!