Nestled amidst the cushions on my porch, I was sipping a hot cup of coffee and admiring the frolicking waves of the beach ahead of me. The white frothy waves pranced up and down, with a life of their own, cradling tiny colorful paper boats probably made by some children. A few sea gulls glided above the waves effortlessly. A picture-perfect landscape for a nature-loving person like me, my life couldn’t get better!
The perfect weather for rumination, I thought to myself. The up-and-down prancing of the waves reminded me of my grandfather. He and I often used to go for long walks by the beach in the evening. I may have been four or five years old then. I would hold my grandpa’s hand and walk across Marine Drive and the parks, snaking our way around the beach. In the midst, my grandpa would treat me to cone ice creams and sand-roasted groundnuts. On our way back home, my grandpa loved to snack on his favorite drink Lassi.
My grandpa was a strong person who continued to work post-retirement till his mid-eighties. I still remember him saying to me when we used to walk around the beach, “Look at those waves, child. They dance up and down. Similarly, life has its ups and downs. The trick lies in facing life with its ups and downs with a determined mind by not letting the pebbles deter you.”
His most-wanted wish was to see me married and settled. The rebel that I was and I am I never accepted the proposals that came my way. Falling in love was the last thing I had in my mind. The dreamer that I was, I yearned to travel the world, meet people, fall in and out of love, learn languages, and taste different cuisines. I didn’t want to be bogged down by commitments of marriage or relationships. My Mom and Dad were worried as I was their only child. Eventually, my grandfather passed away. Soon after his death, my grandmother too died.
Destiny fulfilled his wish somehow! I got married to a man who turned out be an unconventional guy, only two years older to me. My grandpa’s health had drastically deteriorated by then. I knew he would no longer survive but I clung onto my hope. I badly wanted him to see us after our honeymooning in Manali. I wanted him to know that his favorite granddaughter had finally got hitched!
We returned shortly to hear the demise of my grandpa; I had already sensed his death. I had a dream during my honeymoon in Manali. In my dream, I saw my grandpa sitting on his favorite lawn chair on the porch overlooking the beach. He looked pale and thin, and in a lost world. I was sitting next to him. He was holding my hand, and muttering something. I couldn’t understand anything as his words were indistinct. I held his fragile hands gently and listened. Overwhelmed by my tears, I tried to put on a brave façade. He murmured again, and I held his hands tightly. Slowly, his grip on my hands loosened. I turned to face the beach and I saw sea gulls ascending toward the sky.
I woke up in the middle of the night and wept. My worried husband tried his best to console me by saying that my grandpa would be fine. Around 4 a.m., my Dad called us to convey the news of his demise and funeral arrangements for the next day. By coincidence, we had had booked our return flights for the same day!
My grandpa is no longer with me. I have a family of my own now, a loving husband and two beautiful daughters. My grandpa’s invisible presence continues to strengthen me, keeping me afloat on the tide of pebbles that life throws at me. His saying continues to remain with me, guiding me like a lighthouse that illuminates rugged waterways. Life continues to offer me its share of roller coasters. My pillar of strength and my beacon, his memories and sayings remain etched in my heart forever and will be passed on as heirloom to my daughters.
-Smitha Abraham Smitha loves traveling in her flights of imagination and uses these flights to craft short stories and poetry. Full time mom to a give-month-old baby and a budding writer from India, her passions are reading, creative writing, listening to music, learning new languages, meeting new people, getting acquainted with different cultures and traveling.