Usually when the phone rings so early in the morning, these are the two questions that pop up in our minds, "who," and "when." Recently we have acquired a caller identity phone and so the only question I should have asked was, "when." However, I said the usual "hello" and my brother-in-law said, "Chithappa passed away at 2.30am."
Chithappa was the youngest brother of my father-in-law and the last surviving member of that generation. My first reaction was along the lines of my mother-in-law’s "He escaped"(pozhachukindar), meaning, "he escaped further suffering." These are the words used whenever people pass away after prolonged suffering. He was 92 and had been confined to the four walls of his room for the past 4-5 years and would move with difficulty only to go the bathroom. He had had a fall 6 months ago and ever since he had been immobile and in great pain.He was fortunate to have a caring son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren who took care of his every need, his own wife having passed away 15 years ago. So "Pozhachukindar," was the right word to use.
After the initial enquiries about the funeral and other things, the impact of the early morning call started to sink in. Here we were all ready to leave for Delhi the next morning and from there to Hyderabad and thence to Bangalore, all tickets booked and ready in hand. So the first task was to cancel these tickets and book tickets to Chennai and back to attend the rites in connection with Kunjappa’s (that’s what we called him) passing.
All this rescheduling meant I had one week for myself, which I needed very badly. I thanked Kunjappa for his perfect timing and relaxed for a couple of days before I started doing my unfinished work.