All in a nimisham
The heart ( or perhaps the mind; to me the two are the same) has a strangely cruel way of reminding one of happy-sad things from memory. First, something in the recent events triggers it off; then you remember something someone said or did; and finally you remember that that someone is no more. And all this in a space of a ‘nimisham’. Nimisham is a Tamil word that finds its roots in Sanskrit. And while it translates to a minute in popular parlance, it literally mean ‘the blink of an eye’.
It is in such momentary lapses into memory that I remember Shiva, my Murshid. And they have been more frequent in the last few months. First, when I quit my previous job and moved back to Mumbai. My first thought was to call and tell him I am back, not only to this city but also to take on the kind of work I was trained to do; indeed the kind of work that I was doing with Shiva before. Second, when I interviewed for a job, I met someone who knew him. Third, moving homes meant sifting through old ‘rubbish’ and a chance work-related document reminded me of him.
To some, Shiva’s memory is a constant companion, like a shadow. No. it cannot be a shadow. Shadows don’t hurt. It is like the sciatica, a constant ache around which you work and fashion your behavior. It might give you a limp or a stoop. But to me, as to some other people, Shiva’s memory will be the sudden prick of a tattoo needle as it pierces the skin. Involuntarily, it will draw tears and it will leave just as suddenly, healing until the next onslaught.
It has been more than a year now when, rather unceremoniously, Shiva decided to leave the world. And I am suddenly reminded of his brightly coloured red, orange and yellow, striped rug that doubled up as a shawl. At first sight, I fell in love with it. I told him I thought it was beautiful and that if he ever thought of parting with it, he should give it to me. He smiled shyly and looked at it, feeling it lovingly. And he said, “ this was bought in Kenya by a very special person. And you can take any of my other possessions…but this…I am sorry, I will never part with it.” His eyes had a strange twinkle and I turned away to suppress a snort. ( I am sorry, at that time I had no patience for any kind of mawkishness). Today, I remember this and a soft feeling washes over me. I wonder where that shawl is now. Whoever has it, I hope it brings them the happiness it brought to him.