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The Epiphany Of My Silence

The Epiphany Of My Silence

5 mins 9.5K 5 mins 9.5K

“Where is he? I bet he is still waiting for his morning tea? He is always late.” I impatiently glanced at my watch. It was 5:30 in the morning. “I knew it. He will make me miss the sun rise again.”

My best friend of thirty years Ashok, is habitual to be late. We were supposed to walk down to the beach to view the sun rise.

Waiting for Ashok on a rusty park bench, in a neglected old park I couldn’t help but wonder about the irony. The park had such an uncanny resemblance to my life. I remember the first day when I moved to this neighborhood, it was a vivacious place full of life, just like me.

As a newlywed, my wife and I often frequented the park to enjoy the peace and serenity nature had to offer. Basking ourselves in the morning sunlight, the park provided us a solace from all our worldly troubles. Nature has so much to offer. A bench under the big banyan tree at the center of the park was our favorite spot. It stood there like an almighty warrior, surrounded by its numerous hanging roots strengthening its hold on the ground. Its lustrous greenery soothed our tiresome soul and the cool breeze rejuvenated us. Over the years this park has been my sanctuary. And after all these year, this park has aged gracefully. Something I wish I could say about myself.

Now, there is not much left to this park expect a few old benches and a swing set. Much like how my life took a turn after my wife’s demise. And now I wait patiently for the lights to slowly fade away.

Ashok and I took a trip to the beach every morning since my retirement five years ago. Our mutual interest in classical music and mistrust in the Indian political system made these morning trips quite enjoyable. Ashok was a bank accountant prior to his retirement six years ago and afterwards he and his wife moved in with his daughter and son-in-law. In our old fashioned society, it was uncommon for the parents to live with their daughters. After all we give away our daughters. But she was his only child and against all society norms his son-in-law insisted that her parents stayed with them.

Ashok arrived a few minutes later with a head full of excuses. As usual I didn’t buy any of them. We were about to embark our tour when I heard my grandson Aditiya calling out for me. “Dadu! Can I come with you too?”, he looked at me with hopeful eyes.

“What are you doing up so early? And of course you can come. Today I will show you the most beautiful moment of the day, the sun rise. Are you excited?” Adi nodded in excitement.

My grandson is the apple of my eye. Having him is the greatest joy of my life. My wife and I had been living in Vizag for the past forty years. After my wife’s untimely demise my son and my daughter-in-law moved in with me. And then my little angel was born filling my dull life with excitement.

Life was good or so I thought, till I exhausted my life’s saving on my family. And then the harsh reality hit me crashing and crumbling my whole world like dominoes. At first it was just a mild change in my son’s behavior. Then came the judgement and condescension. And now, these lazy morning walks is all I have to restore my peace. I wonder what went wrong, how things have changed. He is my own blood and flesh, so I try not to complaint. Not even to Ashok. I wouldn’t tarnish his blessed life with my troubles. I am happy that at least he is at peace.

Adi seems to be enjoying the waves. Today, I showed him his first sunrise. Oh! The exuberance in his eyes. I see my own reflection in him sometimes.

“Dadu! Can we get some cotton candy?” Adi pointed me towards the street vendor at the beach.

“Just like his father.” I thought to myself.

“How much?” I inquired.

“It’s twenty rupees.” Replied the vendor.

I took out my wallet to pay him and then reality hit me again. I have used the last of my pension this month to buy some medicines. I am left penniless.

How did I get here? I have worked hard all my life; I have provided for my family the best way I could. And today when my grandson asked to me buy him a simple treat, I am too broke to fulfill this small request. Is this what is left of me?

Adi looked at me curiously. I didn’t want to disappoint him. “Adi betu, sorry I forgot to carry my wallet today. Can I get you something tomorrow?” my heart shrunk.

“Ashok, can you buy him the candy?” I uttered the words realizing the horrid expression on Ashok’s face. Although, he didn’t utter a single word I understood his silence, his shame, his pain. He was like me today. We were rowing the same boat.

Even after thirty years of friendship, we both failed to reveal our pain to one another. May be because we wanted the other person not to worry. Or, maybe because we were ashamed. Ashamed of what our children have become, of what we have let them become. We created an illusion for ourselves, a show that we played very well. A show for the whole world to see, hiding even from ourselves.

Ashok’s silence showed me his pain, his shame, his guilt. As a parent he has failed. So have I.

We came across the banyan tree. Another realization hit me. Although, it still stands strong, the true trunk of the tree is long dead. It has been replaced by new branches and new roots. The illusion was revealed; the show was over.

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