Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Story This Year...

When I last wrote here, I had teeth, I was healthy, didn’t have mold growing on my bed and it was nice and sunny in Kodi and my father was still alive…

That was more than a couple of months ago.

As 2012 comes to a close, I reflect on the year.  It was certainly a strange one, full of changes, false promises, and forlorn hopes and interesting people. 

The year started off well enough.  I met one of the most wonderful people I know in January with whom I started a budding friendship.  Today she is one of my closest confidants and a pillar of support when I need it.  In February and March I started looking for teaching opportunities in India and I was getting very positive feedback and in April I finally chose this job here at KIS.  In the meantime, Delhi was great; I made some great friends, ate great food and spent many warm evenings on balconies, drinking wine and contemplating what future awaited me.  I was also living on a Munirka DDA rooftop with an old friend and his mother.

In May, there was a wonderful trip to Dharamsala with old and new friends which ended with a destroyed hard drive and the news of my father’s hospitalization.  I quit ICF after four wonderful years, with melancholy in my heart.  I said goodbye to good friends and spent my last couple of weeks, just staring into space on my balcony.  It was time to say goodbye to familiarity… yet again.  The first of June, as I left Delhi, was particularly a difficult day. I felt as if my stomach and spleen had been ripped out so my heart could fall into that cavity… I came back to Kolkata.

June in Kolkata was perhaps one of the lowest points in the year.  Dad and I constantly argued about everything.  We were due to shift into a smaller flat we had bought, but he refused to move.  Everything that I did or said was wrong and I fell into a severe pit of inconsolability.  Even my friends who came to visit were treated with disdain.  I don’t know what caused this change in personality, but instead of dealing with it with patience I dealt with it with anger and hate.  Suddenly all the Zen habits I had cultivated over the years kicked me in the groin and left me writhing in the ground… I could not wait to get out of Kolkata and head to Kodi to start anew.

Coming into Kodi was a novel experience.  Everything was new.  I knew no one, and no one knew me.  I immersed myself into the place.  I tried to get caught up in my life at KIS, but at every instance there was a nagging feeling in my bones.  Every evening when I sat in my cottage by the fire, I was reminded of a certain voices, the sound of an echoing laugh, and the sense of a familiar touch… and I would end up feeling melancholic and spend the dusk hours contemplating the world in a daze.  I spent several hours writing poetry about certain memories and it would make me smile, but all the while, what I really longed for was to run away from my responsibilities.  Not to mention, constant issues with the water, the mold, the dampness, and the utter destruction of both my LP players made me feel cursed. 

The days rolled by… there were camping trips and long hikes, and even a herpetology and nature camp, but still I felt imprisoned in my own mind.  Continuing my spate of poor luck, I also chipped and broke my three front teeth in a hiking accident – the healing and capping process for that was quite painful.  I was also attacked by a dog and suffered severe allergies from the mold in the house.  In mid-September, dad started complaining of his health again, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.  He kept urging me to quit my job and just come home and I thought it was a ploy to get me back to Kolkata.  I ignored it.

Then in early November, I got a call saying my dad is severely ill and that I should come back.  I made emergency preparations and rushed back home… three days later dad passed away of a heart attack in the hospital.  We didn’t get to speak before he died.  When we took him to the cremation grounds, he was just a shriveled up body – a far cry from his imposing aura that he carried around with him all his life.  Watching dad burn, for the first time in my life I truly felt alone and mortal.  There was a strange and unfathomable emptiness.  True, relatives and friends came out of the woodwork when dad died… but in the end I was alone.  I did my penance.  Thirteen days of wearing a dhoti and a small piece of cloth, sleeping on the floor, eating boiled food, shaving my head and doing the last rites. I did it all like a machine.  Even now it hasn’t sunk in that there is no longer anyone looking over my shoulder.  Perhaps it will when I am alone in my cottage in Kodi…

I have now made the move to the new apartment.  I am in the process of furnishing it and dealing with the enormous amount of paperwork that goes with the aftermath of death.  I suppose even dead men must pay taxes.  There is a lot of work to be done, and some moments, as of right now, I feel overwhelmed and lost.  I have a goal to work towards.  There are things I need to and want to do and I will do them.  Not just for me, but for the people I love and care about.  All I ask for is a little patience.

I wonder what tales 2013 will bring.