Sometimes I dreamed about Father. He looked thinner than when I last remember seeing him, and I always had the same dream. He pushing me to and fro on a swing in a lush green meadow on a spring afternoon, and we are both happy and shouting, and suddenly from out of nowhere a riot breaks out, people come towards us holding lathis and guns, and Father standing in front of me, protecting me from all of them, and shouting, “What do you want?” And instead of getting a reply, someone shoots him, and he falls. That was the dream. And the same dream kept on coming every now and then; I did not know why. This had never happened in real life. In real life, Father was quite different. He used to toil hard on the fields and by the time he came back home, he hardly had any energy left to strike a conversation with Mother or me. He used to eat, then take out a bottle of rum from one of his cupboards, drink and go off to sleep. He was very silent at home, no fun and no frolic, unlike the dream. Perhaps the dream was what I really wanted in my real life, only the former part of the dream though.
How I ended up in this city with Aunt and Uncle and Sam is a long story, and it starts way back with my grandmother. Grandma was nearly seventy and she needed treatment for her ailing back. It was not possible where we lived, and so Mother and Father arranged for her trip to the city. Since she was to go alone, and since that was unsafe given the current situations (riots had just broken up in Delhi and a lot of people were being killed unnecessarily, and a lot of trains were being burnt without any reason), my parents decided it would be nice if I could accompany her. Not that I would be of much help, they knew that. But then that was not how it all started. To start would mean to go to the beginning and explain how all of our lives intersected and how I am what I am today. It all started back in 1932 when in a small house in a corner of the world, a baby was born.
In autumn he was born and was a fair lad. A few more autumns came and went by and he struggled to live the way he wanted. For around him were talks of independence and wars. He saw Gandhi walk around, and did really consider him his idol, and in one of those fair summers, he learned how it felt to breathe freely. 15th of August it was and it was 1947, and the British had left India in the hands of Indians and then what we did of that all of us know. He married the prettiest girl in town and they had a gorgeous daughter who married a handsome man and they had a handsome son and thus I opened my eyes to this world. It all seemed distant now, yet to go to the beginning sometimes means to search for one’s roots, search what one actually came here for, and try to live up to that motto once you finally find out your purpose.
And so that was how it all began. My life. And a few years later, so it was that I was transported along with Grandma’s luggage to a posh town, where everything was ten times faster, where breathing required skill, and where being rustic meant you were stupid. Yet it had only started. As Grandma used to say, “Child, this is only the beginning.”