I thought I had seen it all. I thought the worst was over and that Mumbai had nothing else to make me realise how true Krishna was when he said to Arjun –

“Sanjay in the end, it’s all about you. In the end nothing matters but you. For in the end you are all alone.”

But then, guess that is the greatness about this city. Just when you sit in cosily on a rainy afternoon under the quilt with a piping hot filter coffee cuppa – the smell of freshly brewed coffee filling up your nostrils and senses beyond, the guzzling sound of the sea filling up your heart and the ears. It strikes you – the city patrols in to teach you an untaught lesson. Yet again to leave you in awe that how did it know that this was left to be learnt?

Just when I thought I had enough of Charulata’s guzzles over the latest video; I went for a walk by the sea. I love it when the sea speaks to me at midnight. With my laptop and my coffee mug, sitting on the bricked wall, I must look quite funny a scene, that even the dogs forget to bark. That’s when I thanked you Mumbai, for helping me grow for teaching me so much. Guess, you took my note a bit too seriously and so today you made me do what dad had protected me from all these years –death and funerals.

Yes, I’ve been that protective kid who till today didn’t realise what death actually meant – for I was always kept away by my father – don’t ask me why. To me when people departed it was as if they are living in far off lands, for I haven’t seen them off myself. It was almost like when Y left. And then Mumbai decided that I needed to grow up and face the truth yet again – eye to eye.

Ishaan, was the little boy whom I had seen growing up. The little pair of feet all of 10 years of age, scurrying around with a handycam in his hand, trying to capture all his big sistah’s friends and yes of course with a half slice of pizza hanging from his mouth. He was the baby of our hostel – the one who came to visit his elder sister once every 3 months and ended up being pampered by 17 more.  While there was a time we insisted that the little pajayma boy stayed in the hostel (we even snuggled him into the girls hostel for nights together) later when the chubby cheeks gave away to a stubble goti, it was we who put our foot down and booked the ‘guest house’ for him.  He was the baccha – he is still the baccha. Just that just as my baby came home; the other big baby chose to depart.

Friends. Party. Exam free birds. Dam. The adrenalin rush. Dares to cross the dam. 3 friends jumping in. Two making it to the shore. One smiling from above and saying “Dude I swam my way to the heaven”!

As I stood there in Lonavla today, surrounded by the mountains, it struck me how badly I wanted to cover this place for my Mumbai Mondays. But not this way. I didn’t think that the cremation ground would be taking away my breaths not because of the way 5 hills seemed to echo my cries, but because I was too breathless crying. The laughter that spelled goofiness, the mind that was so creative – would be now all a fond remembrance. Here lay a brilliant chap for whom even Shantanu Moitra cancelled his recordings and rushed in with us into that Lonavla house – for there lay our baby who seemed too grown up today, sitting there amidst the photographs of his ancestors during the last rite puja ceremony.

 

Death today stood beside me like the calm cold wave, that leaves you numb, that tires you and soothes you to sleep, that makes you question and then answers them for you.

It made me do one other thing too – it made me guilty. It made me break down before the hills and scream out a sorry to my parents for the night when Y left and I wished I didn’t witness the next morning sunrise. I learnt what parents deserve n what they often get. Yet they bear it all for us kids and live. It made me guilty for each smoke I take and that makes Ma scrunge up her nose and Baba sigh – for my moment of sanity I realised how much insane thoughts I drive in their heads.

That in my quest to know where me and Y belonged I forgot what my parents deserve and what they are getting. It’s the worst thing to see your child suffer and yet not be able to pick up and comfort. It made me rush up and hug his dad, hold hid mom tightly till she cried and make his sister spot a shooting star. There’s nothing worse than handling family in denial about an untimely death.

19 is an age where dreams take wings – its not the age to take on wings and fly to heaven. 20+x years is when you become wise truly – so decided Mumbai today.

Wish the road to Lonavla was not tear stained for all of us.

Yet another fear conquered eye to eye.  Just wish it was not this child.

RIP Ishaan. I am sure the angels are already smitten – can visualize you singing to them with your guitar and they all dreamy eyed. You’ll always be the Rockstar. Live on.

A bigger than life Mumbai Monday this – for that is what this city is all about. Learning the unexpected.  

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Mumbai Mondays is all about seeing Mumbai and its surroundings through my eyes. It’s my take to introduce you to a city and its surroundings which I love, as I see it – alone and often with friends (we call ourselves the Mumbai Mad Caps). It’s a thread that goes live every Monday. I cover places randomly and welcome suggestions too. You can find more posts about Mumbai Mondays here.

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