ശിവാനി

"ശിവാനീ, ശേ അല്ല, അച്ഛാ .." എന്തോ അത്യാവശ്യമായിട്ട് പറയാൻ വരുവായിരുന്നു..
"എന്തുവാ"
"അറിയാതെ അച്ഛനെ ശിവാനി  എന്നു വിളിച്ചു"

ശിവാനി ചക്കിയുടെ ബെസ്റ് ഫ്രണ്ട് ആണ്. ഒൻപതു വർഷത്തെ ജീവിതത്തിൽ, അഞ്ചു വര്ഷം. ഇപ്പൊ ഒരു ഡിവിഷനിൽ അല്ല, എന്നാലും ഒരുമിച്ചാണ് കളിക്കാറ്. ചിലപ്പോൾ വിചാരിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട് ഈ ഫ്രണ്ട്ഷിപ് വലുതാവുമ്പൊഴും കാണുമോ എന്ന്. പക്ഷെ LKG തുടങ്ങിയ സൗഹൃദം ഇപ്പോഴും തുടരുന്നത് കണ്ട് അദ്‌ഭുതപ്പെട്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്. 

"നീ ശിവാനിയെ അച്ഛാ എന്ന് വിളിക്കാറുണ്ടോ"
"ഇല്ല. ഞാൻ അച്ഛനെ കാണുന്നതിലും കൂടുതൽ ശിവാനിയെ കാണാറുണ്ട്."

ഈ ഇടയായി ഞാനും ചക്കിയും രാവിലെ എണീക്കുന്നതു ഒരേ സമയത്താണ്. ഞാൻ പതുക്കെ അനങ്ങിവന്നു, പത്രമൊക്കെ വായിച്ചു വരുമ്പോഴേക്കും, ചക്കി സ്കൂളിൽ പോയി കഴിയും, വൈകിട്ട് ചക്കിയുടെ ഹോംവർക്കും എന്റെ കോൺഫറൻസ് കാൾസും, മിക്കവാറും ചക്കി ഉറങ്ങിയിട്ടാണ്  ഞാൻ കിടക്കാറ്. ഉറങ്ങി കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ട് കൊടുക്കുന്ന ഗുഡ് നൈറ്റ്  കിസ്സ് ആരറിയാൻ. 

"പക്ഷെ ശിവാനിയെ അമ്മേ എന്ന് വിളിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്"
അമ്മക്ക് സന്തോഷമായിക്കാണും. ചോദിക്കണ്ടായിരുന്നു. 

like her son

She had told me I remind her of her son. That’s how I remember her, that’s how I will always do. Sometimes people are their best self in initial interactions – I wish we stop at that and never get to know more. With her, I only saw her best self. In the end, she had moved away and did not want to see many people.

It was her first death anniversary. Her husband, who is an upright gentlemen, was conducting the whole function stoically. He with two elder brothers seem to know what needs to be done. I wonder if I will ever be that mature – I wish I never have to.

An elderly man comes in, the head of the family. He is reminded of relationships of others in the room. I am too far removed in the hierarchy to even attempt. Another older relative comes in – his hand is bandaged, seems to be wounded badly. He said he scraped the hand against the wall – he says with old age, the veins are so brittle that if someone presses on top of the skin, it turns red. He inquires after my daughter whom he is very fond of, always want her to sing something, but this is not the occasion. Someone asks him his age, if he is ok to share – he says he is 89. He is beaten to second position by one year by the other relative.

There is a call for lunch, someone jokes that it should be in the order of seniority, and that then nobody would get up. I join them last. Not for long.

While I was leaving, I met her son. He has a beard as well now – he might still look like me. Her daughter says she didn’t get to say hi, I nod – that might be the only interaction we had ever.

Someone says they didn’t like her photo which was put on the table – other was saying there is nothing wrong with it, with a streak of white hair from the center. She had a kind face.

wish

He was sitting in the porch this time, after a long time.

These days when I go there, he would be in hiding. I know it and don’t make any attempt to reach out. I have always been like this – once a relationship is frayed, I would rather let it be as it is, it might nag at the back of the heart often but I never take a step to mend it. But this is no ordinary relationship.

His silver hair all astray. I think he stopped dyeing long back. He had same amount of hair for a long time – bald on top, hair on top of forehead grown lengthier to comb all the way back, with shoots of hair from both sides. I asked him if he was not getting a haircut. He said he is ok, it is just that the wind has blown it.

I took my seat at the usual side of bamboo sofa. Mosquitoes were making merry and someone tried to close the door – I said he is sitting outside. He said it is fine, close it.

While I was leaving, I mumbled something as to what he was doing, he said something back. I see him listening to the kids shrieking with laughter from the silly game they were playing. Then that familiar glint in the eye and tightening of the jaw that I come to recognize which puts a heavy stone on my heart.


I wish afterwards I had hugged him and forget everything, just like old times. 

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