Tuesday, August 29, 2006

last evening

“We love your songs!”
Gang of Girls
Written in Zubs unmistakably neat scrawl on the yellow paper napkin. It was a rainy August evening last year. She, Caroline and I were sitting in Casa's in Devatha Plaza, Residency Road. The beneficiary of her enormous affection was a white haired, white bearded old man who usually sings live in Casa's on Thursdays. She hands the note over to the nearest waiter with a smile and points towards the old songbird. Caroline and I are still giggling over Zubs rendition of Country Roads a la our casa-songbird style which would make you wonder whether his adenoids are the size of golf balls to allow him to emit such super nasal sound!! The napkin returns with a plain ‘Thank you – Collin’. We giggle some more. Collin of course wasn’t aware that his super specialty talent was the reason for the three crazy women giggling like their brains fell off in the nearby gutter. He was all smiles and waved at us from far. I suppose she made his evening.
That is Zubs. Was. She drowned in Goa on 27th January this year. By her standards, going for a swim at midnight wasn’t crazy at all. But the tides thought otherwise. They found her body five hours later in the early morning. They got her back to Bangalore the next day. "Die when I may, I want it said of me that I plucked a weed and planted a flowerwhere ever I thought a flower would grow." - Abraham Lincoln. That’s what her email signature said. And she did. Planted flowers wherever she went, touched who ever she met. I was supposed to go along with her and Bins. We had planned the trip in meticulous details sitting in Only Place one Saturday afternoon with her ankle still in the blue fiber cast. We planned the trip once her cast came off in 15 days. Leave for Goa on 26th January night and come back two days later on the Sunday. She was to join her new job on Monday. Tickets booked. Hotel arranged. Bags packed. 25th January, R is down with viral. Both of them wanted to postpone the trip. I insisted that they go ahead as planned.
Fate. If only I had not insisted. If only I had gone with them. If only I could…..
Her mother looks at her wrapped remains and asks no one in particular ‘why did she have to die’. I try to hold her but she is ‘unreachable’ in her sorrow. She looks at me and says ‘you would understand, how it feels to lose a child’. I am searching for words. Nothing. Her father sits in silence. Not a sound. I remember other times. He would give her a tongue lashing whenever I went to pick or drop her and more often than not we were sinfully late. He is old and diabetic and surviving virtually on medication post his medical complication. All dressed for a party, she would keep his medicines in separate tiny containers marked with the time they need to be taken. He is visibly upset. For a father who reads namaz five times a day without fail, he obviously doesn’t approve of the ‘non-conventional’ life that she leads. Unfazed, she would squeeze his shoulders and say, ‘Abba, don’t forget the medicines and I will check if you have taken them once I am back.’
I don’t want to cry. I can’t. I didn’t.
All that came back last evening. The tears and the pain. I was getting down from the car in front of the Cunningham Road Citibank ATM. Collin, guitar case in hand was walking towards me and we almost bumped into each other. He gave me an apologetic smile. I don’t remember if I smiled. By the time I walked up to the ATM machine I couldn’t see through the tears.
She knew she had touched his life that rainy evening. He didn’t even know that she is gone. Only the little yellow note still lies somewhere in her handbag. Unopened and silent.

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