–Tick Tock…Strike One–
I have seen death too many times in my life. He’s been with me all along.
Honestly. Really. Nothin’ to brag about. But it’s true.
I know Lord Yama, the god of death, all too well. I can’t say I like him a lot. But because I’ve accepted the fact that I can never get rid of him, I have resigned to un-dislike him. Or, is it dis-unlike him?
You see, it’s not easy to explain. This guy is like the distant uncle from the village who’d show up at least once a year, totally uninvited, and wouldn’t mind our very obvious unwelcoming gestures…until he decided to travel somewhere else, to be someone else’s guest. Some years, he’d show up even more than once a year. Gosh…really annoying!
What can I say: he’s always been quite whimsical.
When I was a child, I didn’t know him all that well. Growing up, I heard strange tales about him…where he lives…what he does…where he goes…how he makes a living, and all. I never paid close attention to those tales. I never believed I had to. I was least bothered.
Slowly but surely though, his presence became matter of factly. Then, one day, he volunteered to introduce himself. I saw his face up close when I was only in sixth grade. He said to me, “Hello kid…I am your Lord Yama Uncle.” He said, “Pleased to meet you.”
I was speechless.
He said to me, “You don’t look very happy meeting me, do you, kid? That’s okay. I’m leaving you now for a while. But you’ll see me again, don’t worry. I’ll be back.” And just before he left, he grinned, uncannily, and said, “You’ll see me over and over again. You better know me well, kid. Or, you’re gonna be miserable.”
He was right. A few years went by.
When I just got into our M.Sc. program at the University of Calcutta, Uncle Yama for some reason decided he’d now be our guest for a quite a while. Maybe, he didn’t have no other place to visit. Maybe, his village had a drought and he must eat and sleep at somebody else’s house. Maybe, he realized he didn’t see us for a long while and started missing us too much. So, one early summer evening, around seven thirty, he showed up and knocked at our mezzanine apartment door.
In fact, he banged hard. He wouldn’t wait no more.
Ma was dying of cancer. Uncle Yama took her first…and left…
He left…but only for a short while. In Ma’s death, he’d struck a gold mine. He saw with his unearthly, uncanny eyes (see his profile photo above) that this was a place where he could come back now…quite often…over and over again…uninvited…and these people wouldn’t say no to him…couldn’t say no to him.
He knew we were too good and too powerless to dis-un-dislike him.
(to be continued. please come back.)
Brooklyn, New York