The Bucket List
The Bucket List
As usual, it was my fault!
It always has been my fault.
Not been able to get over the habit of writing lists and more often than not, forgetting it, I mean.
So, I was shocked to see my wife, her friends, few of my relatives and my children – huddled behind their grand mother - are all standing, not to mention few nosy neighbors, to welcome me with tears when I came back from my training stint from Delhi.
I was speechless, to say the least.
The minute my wife saw me, she started to cry loudly followed by her friends and few other older relatives.
I sat down on the only available chair – others were occupied by elderly relatives – and my wife came near, still crying, held my hand and spoke. “Why didn’t you tell me all these days? How can you keep your serious illness away from me? I am your wife. I have right to know everything. At least now, please tell me what exactly did the doctor say? You have mentioned only one moth. Please tell us exactly how many months…..” she couldn’t control her emotions and started wailing loudly.
I stood up in shock.
What was she saying? Which doctor? What illness?
I held my wife’s shoulder and spoke for the first time. “What’s all this, Shanti? What were you saying about doctor, illness and all? Who is ill?.”
Wife stopped crying and spoke in halting sentences. “Why are you still trying to hide? I have found out everything you wanted to do. Honestly, I never knew that you cared so much about us. I feel ashamed to have quarreled with you for not thinking about us, often. But, how wrong I was! Please, forgive me. “
I was clean bowled.
On the one hand, I was elated to hear my wife of nearly 15 years saying sorry for the first time. Second, I still couldn’t understand why so many people have gathered and why the hell they all wore look as if I am already dead?
I took courage, and spoke again.
“But, Shanti, why have all these people assembled today? And for god’s sake, tell me why were you crying?”
Wife ignored my talk.
She looked in to my eyes, held my hand squeezing gently, spoke with all the love and affection and concern – never heard in the last 15 years before - in her voice.
“One month. My god only one month? How in the name of god will I live without you after that? Children are still young? We never ever discussed anything about our future. We were so stupidly busy with the daily grind, I never considered losing you so early in my life. I just…..” again she started crying and as if on cue, other women too started with her.
I pinched my self on my left hand to ensure that I am not in some stupid dream.
But, by mistake, I actually pinched my wife on her hand and she exclaimed, rather loudly. “Why are you trying to silence me by pinching me on my hand? Everyone here already knows the truth. In fact, I have already briefed our children and they are very brave. They have taken the news like a matured adults. We should be proud of our children.”
I just couldn’t stomach any more. I spoke loudly.
“What the hell is this Shanti? Who is dying? What news are you talking about? Please, first send all these people out.”
My elderly uncle who must be over 90 came forward from where he was sitting and held my hand and spoke.
“I am really sorry Vijay. I know we all have come here and causing disturbance, when you need to have peace. But please. Be brave. You have only one month to live and there are thousands of things to do. I am old enough to have seen lots of young men die before me. Many of them don’t even get notice of what’s going to come. In that sense, you seem have been favoured by god.”
Listening to him, I virtually fell on the floor and wife, who had given way to my uncle and was standing away, came rushing towards me, crying loudly. “Oh may God! Has the time come already? God, please help me.”
I pushed my wailing wife away and decided that enough was enough.
It was time for me to take the situation by the scruff of its neck and deal.
“Shanti. Please calm down and listen to me. I am healthier than ever. Why are you thinking that I am going die? What was it that you said? One month? For God’s sake, who is dying in one month? I am likely to live till 85 as per the predictions made based on my horoscope? Don’t you remember?”
Wife walked, picked up something from table, thurst it in my hand and spoke in her usual steely voice.
“Then what is this bloody list you wrote? What was the name you wrote?” She though for a second and spoke after recollecting. “Oh, yes. The bucket list? You have listed everything that you have to do in one month since you are going to die after one month as you are suffering from some serious illness as told to you, by the doctor?
I looked at the list and burst out laughing making every one look at me with pity.
Even before I could speak, my maternal uncle came forward and opined.
“You are really brave Vijay. You can laugh at the face of death. How many persons can do that? In our entire family, you are the bravest.”
I stopped laughing and shouted, virtually at everyone but glaring directly at my maternal uncle, in particular.
“Look here everyone. I am perfectly healthy. I am not dying in one month’s time.
This list Shanti has seen titled as ‘the bucket list’ was written as part of a preparation for a training programme. This was meant to be distributed to participants as a specimen where they have to list everything they would do if they were to die in one month’s time. I had prepared it for conducting a training programme on Goal setting. By mistake, I forgot to take it with me to Delhi where I conducted the training programme.
For God’s sake, this is the truth.”
My children, who were listening, came running towards me with joy
I stole a glance at my wife's stern face and could see her making fist; as if to indicate, let these people go away and then I will show you!