I have no one to call as mine. Guruprabhas died long years ago from lung’s cancer. He cried for two whole years in his pain and then, one calm, chilly morning, he was relieved from his sufferings, from this world.
Urmila blamed me behind his death. She thought it was I from whom he inhabited drinking and smoking. After Guruprabhas’s death, she refused to talk to me. She was heartbroken. And then, one night, she took her last sleep. It was the first time in five years when I saw her face clearly, while preparing her corpse for crematory. Like a gentle and silent wind she passed out of my life.
I am still disappointed. The only complain I have is that without informing she left me alone in this small house.
I have only a few thousands rupees left for the rest of my living. Yesterday, I celebrated my 81st birthday with the cat that sleeps on our roof with her children. I put the platter of milk before the family and all the cats managed to get their heads in to sip.
I was neither a good father nor a good husband. Even, I failed to prove myself as a good son. Father always wanted me to study and find a government job. I refused him and made a point to become a writer and a lifelong bachelor.
Earlier, a few of my books and articles went well and I earned enough to prove father that my decision was right. But father was still upset from me. To make him proud of his son, I married to Urmila.
Just after our marriage, I published my third book. Readers merely found something good in the book. Then, the modern writers came and impressed the readers with their love stories. Now, no publisher was interested in reading my old, poor writing style.
A publisher advised me to become mastraam and write sex stories. The books on sex and love have huge market. People are obsessed with sex. Before letting me out of his office, he gave me the telephone number of Mukesh who was a pimp and could easily provide me a prostitute in my budget.
After that, the publisher dodged me whenever I tried to talk to him. Mr. Bhaskar, who was my closest friend, managed to find a job of editor in a local newspaper, The Ludhiana Times. Mr. Bhaskar died in his sixties followed by his wife’s death. The job didn’t give me much, so I started teaching shorthand in English and Hindi languages at Dutta Typing Classes.
Urmila was an understanding woman. She had always satisfied with the money I earned. I had never been loyal to anyone other than Urmila. Mr. Dutta was a couple of years younger than me. He had always helped me whenever I felt financially weak. After his only daughter’s marriage, he sold the shop and moved to Haridwar with his wife.
After the death of Urmila, I took sanyaas in my home. The longings and yearning of dreams, vigorous games of Kushti, open-air bicycle rides in the village, winters in Kasauli are behind me.
Now, I seldom come out of my house. I have knee pain and my vision is impaired with the old age. I feel less hungry and can pass my time for a few days without eating. Gaba, my neighbor and a liquor-seller, makes sure I don’t sleep without liquor every night. At 8 in evening, he delivers a quarter of local whisky. He has been delivering liquor to me for the last thirty years. My drinking session last long for an hour.
I don’t need alarm clock to wake up in the morning. In fact, I threw all the clocks, alarms and calendars long time ago. Now, I’m not in control of time. Time plays with the people who have taken sanyaas. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for an old man to let it go. And sometimes, it seems to be stuck in the throat and continuously reminds him that his end is near. But it plays a huge role in the early stage of life.
I remember, in childhood, mother woke me up with the songs of wisdom. With a loud sound of broom hitting the floor, she sang: ‘Let not the winged days go in vein. Once gone, neither silver coins nor gold chains bring it back again.’ She was the only person who was dear to me and died a few days before the birth of Guruprabhas.
I wake up with the stentorian voice of muazin calling Allah from nearby masjid. No alarm clock can substitute his voice. His voice is much louder in evenings. May be, he tries to wake up Allah from siesta. I feel good as there is no temple nearby my house.
The bhajans and jagrata has no limit. People sing, dance and do every kind of nonsense to impress God. Whenever people ask me, do I believe in heaven and hell, I quote them with an Urdu poetry:
To Darmiyaan say sunee;
Na ibtida kee khabr hai
Na intiha maaloom
(What I heard of life
Is only the middle;
I know not its beginning
I know not its end)
When I was in matriculation, I had a lot of Muslim friends. They consider alcohol as Haram. But they never stopped me from drinking, getting high and opposing Hinduism and Islam.
Irfan who was a Muslim and sharing room with me never believed in the religion. Once, when his Muslim friends went against him, with a flask of wine in his hand, he quoted Mirza Ghalib:
Waiz! Teri duaon mein asar ho to masjid ko hila kay dikha
Nahinn to do ghoot pee,
Aur masjid ko hilta dekh
(If your devotion has strength, then make the Mosque tremble.
Otherwise, have a couple of pints,
And watch the Mosque shake!)
Last week, I got a letter from Imran. He is living in Hyderabad with his only son and his family. He is still enjoying his last days of life in tavern, drinking liquor and making Urdu verses and Ghajals.
He wrote that his friends who had never touched the alcohol have been sent to their respective heavens and hells. He also asked me about my health and my plans. I hadn’t wrote anything except a couplet I wrote somewhere in my diary:
Patta Patta butta butta haal hamaara Jaaney
Intezaar hai bus maut aane ka.
(Every leaf of every planet and tree knows of my state
I am waiting for the time when death comes to me.)