An End and a Beginning

Wednesday, 21st of September, 2016. On that day my life gave me quite the hit. It realised my most innate of emotions and showed me just how unexpected life can be.

Perhaps if I had reached earlier, perhaps if I had called him, perhaps if it hadn’t rained. All such thoughts went around jumping in my mind. Everyday I walked a short distance from my home to my maths tuition. It was a cozy little room with what seemed like hundreds of books and a variety of curious and interesting objects, in which four tables and a few seats were somehow adjusted. In the middle of the room sat the most remarkable person I’ve known.

He never really liked being called sir, rather he asked us to call him “uncle.” He was a teacher in every sense of the word, teaching us not only maths, physics, chemistry, accounts and economy, but also the many twists and turns, topsys and turvys of life. For the better part of 2 years I have known him and after these two years I find myself lost without him. Where everyone saw an abomination, scum so to say, he saw a lost yet innocent soul. More than just telling me my problem, he took active interest in solving my problem. After a long day of making notes and solving sums, I looked forward to spending 3 more hours of making notes and solving sums. Why? Uncle. No one could give me what he did, inspiration. In everything he did he managed to inspire us, be it his days in the army, his relationship with his sons, who are both doctors but can teach you calculus in three hours, or just a casual epiphany he had from last night. My only regret is, I never really told him what a bad student I had been. I did regret it when I performed badly in the maths exam. I did not regret it when I didn’t get into that college I always wanted to go to, even after which he still pledged to help me so that next year the sun should really shine on me. I regretted it on the day I found him dead in the basement.

A walk down the road is uncle’s house, where his wife, whom we very originally just called aunty, had her beauty parlour, and on the other side, the entrance to the dinghy basement room which was our happy little tuition. That day I was to give a test in integrals. I was a little late so I was preparing my excuse on the way. So excited, I headed down to the tuition. Upon arriving I see the door ajar. Now here is the thing, since the tuition is the basement room, you can only see the very top of the door from the road. Approaching the door I see that the tuition is flooded. There is no sign of uncle. A couple of chairs rested knocked over by the entrance. I also saw a motor pump rested beside the stairs and thought to myself, “he must have been trying to drain the room.” Another step forward and horror struck. Under those very chairs I saw the torso of my teacher. I hurried into the room and stepped into the water and was instantly greeted with a shock, literally. I threw away the chairs and saw him clutching onto a wired plug socket, face first into the ankle deep water. Immediately I went for the socket in his hand upon touching which I was greeted by another shock. I took it from his hand and put it on the table. I lifted him and turned him over and attempted to resuscitate him all the time shouting his name. When a minute or more had passed since I walked in I ran to the parlour and informed aunty about what had happened. Soon there were a dozen people at the entrance of the room. We lifted him outside the room and waited for the requested ambulance but time was of the essence. So we seated him in the car with aunty and other people, and they drove away to the hospital, but I knew better. Even as they drove him away, I saw his face, with lifeless eyes and an unchanging expression, I knew, that he was long dead. The parlour staff, the security guards from across the street and only I were left. They asked me to lock the basement door, handing me the keys. With trembling hands and a very pressured mind, I locked up the room, picked up my slippers which I had somehow broken in the process and went on home. I went into an empty room and cried, cried till I lost my voice. After that I just fell silent. Only at midnight, when my parents really got worried about me, I narrated the tragedy. That night I didn’t sleep. I kept thinking of what could have been. If only I had reached earlier, if maybe I had called him before coming, could I have saved him? Even aunty and the staff claimed to have heard a loud band but never suspected something so grim.

Also I sat wondering, why were his glasses intact? The only plausible explanation was, he was still alive for sometime before dying. The current paralysed him, but if that didn’t kill him, then the water surely did. Till dawn I mourned and blamed myself. In time I understood that it was not my place to grant or take life. The next morning, I went up to the house and paid my condolences to aunty and her son, who had on an emergency notice flown to Hyderabad. All who came were all words about me. How I removed the socket from the water, preventing further casualties, how I had this presence of mind, giving him CPR, straightening him up and all else. With every passing second I found this praise increasingly stupid. What use is bravery if it doesn’t save the one life that really mattered to me? After a little persuasion by the family members and my mother, I went back home. Before going I requested them to contact any students coming and tell them what had happen since I and only a few other who were outside town had known of the incident.

The next day at about 4:00pm in the evening, the remarkable man, colonel Charanjit Singh Arora, our dear uncle was cremated. So much irony here!! He passes away a few days after a granddaughter is born to him. He showed me all his articles from here from the very first one and he isn’t even here to see my first. He always told us that his time is near, maybe in 10 years. But here’s the thing, we may have prepared ourselves for when the time comes, but never expected it to be 10 days. Under his guidance, we had all flourished somehow or the other, always learning something new and improving on the old. Even in his death he had taught me a lesson,” to always care and live life with contentment.” For the next 30 or so years of my life I don’t know what I’m going to do, but after that, I want to be a teacher, so I can also one day become someone’s “uncle.”