Letter from Tipu
Dear Baba. Ma, Dada and Didis,
I am in a mood to walk down memory lane this evening.
I came to this house when I was only a few weeks old. My parents had separated after a brief affair. I was destined to not see them ever again.
My foster parents had adopted me. Although they had three children of their own, they embraced me with love and care as if I was their fourth child. My siblings loved me immensely and taught me to walk, run and not do naughty things. They did not succeed splendidly in teaching me the last------to stay out of mischief.
I was different from the rest of my siblings. I was the dark one. Why do they discriminate against the swarthy for God’s sake! Jesus is white, the angels are white and they wish you a white Christmas! The say "dark as the devil". Another name for Mephistopheles is The Prince of Darkness –the Satan who lurks inside the soul of every human being. And yet I do not know why they discriminate against the dark. Lord Krishna was dark. The rolling monsoon clouds that bring showers to the parched lands are dark. And why do people wail when their hair turns white?
I was the little black angel for my parents and siblings. When I was a toddler they watched me and coached me. When I began to run, they were filled with admiration. And how I ran!!! Like a lightning steed that would even put Buraq to shame. And I ran and ran until I was tired and breathless.
I lived in a large, old house with many old fruit and flower trees. I listened to the songs of birds and watched the fishes swim in a lily pool. I lazed in the garden under a tree on winter afternoons when my parents went out to work and my siblings went to school. Sometimes my father took me to our farm in the village where I spent some of my most memorable days.
While the outside world and Calcutta were morphing imperceptibly, I lived a life of blissful ignorance. I had a protected childhood cloistered in the confines of my own house. But things never remain the same. I can smell danger from a distance.And I could spot uncertainties quickly. The first change I sensed was when I saw my brother packing a large suitcase. Then I did not see him for months. A few years later one of my sisters began to behave in a similar way. Mother packed large suitcases . And off she went too. My mother told me that they have gone to to a far away land called America. I was happy that at least my mother and one of my sisters were staying with my.
My father travelled frequently and I was quite used to see him packing and unpacking suitcases. If my mother ever went with my father I had my sister who always lent me a shoulder to cry on and looked after me. Then, disaster struck. I found her behaving strangely as well. She was packing bags too. This disease of packing bags was becoming a pandemic in our family. She left too. My father said she has gone across the black waters to a city with a large clock called the Big Ben. The name sounded like the chime of our grandfather clock: London. Last week my mother was packing bags. She told me she was going to America to meet my brother. My father was packing bags tonight. What for? He will go to Hyderabad leaving me alone in this large house.
I am getting on in years. Although my mind is still razor sharp, my hair is falling, my joints ache and my eyesight is impaired. I still have spring in my steps but they are slower. What keeps me fresh in mind and agile in spirit is the anticipation of the footsteps of my loved ones who are now faraway afflicted by wanderlust which I call SPS (Suitcase Packing Syndrome).
But I true to my name - the Tiger- await for the birds to return to the nest - someday. Then my roar will again strike terror in the hearts of the squirrels. And my barks will fill the house with laughter and merriment. But I know that the old times can never come back the same way for us.Much like the river that has flown to meet the ocean. I wait, hunched in anticipation of the sound of my dear footfalls. I want to hear tales of the distant lands I shall never be able to visit in this incarnation. I am the ultimate empty nester because I cannot fly.