My son was then running around the building and making everyone’s life a mess everyday. From the time he used to be awake he used to make our life a great challenge. Morning breakfast needed to be different every day, there were different Cerelac variety for different days, at times it used to be food from his parents’ plates. Going to office or out for shopping was a big headache for me he would never let me go outside home without him. Even if my wife took him elsewhere or diverted his attention in any manner he would know when I opened the main door of our flat and would come running.
It was difficult for us to hide anything from him. Even when we used to take tea, we had to give him. So we switched to green tea so that it was good for a toddler like him to drink something good. Ever since he started his normal diet our challenge grew because he didn’t want separate food, he always wanted the food we eat. We had to accustom ourselves with less spicy food and many a times used to resort to only vegetarian food or fish.
They were our neighbours. Priya and Prakash came to the building before us but we became close mates since both the families were Bengalis. Getting a Bengali family as a neighbour in Hyderabad was definitely a plus for us. Our families were almost similar yet we were very different.
Tinku was the name of their son. He was then eight but seemed to be of two years or younger. He was suffering from a rarest heart disease that needed regular attention from a childcare physician. He used to gasp for breathing and many a times have spasm in his body. Those were the moments no onlookers would have stayed calm or tension free. Even we used to get afraid when he used to fight for his breath. Once he had stopped breathing for sometime and his parents almost broke down in tears. We were not used to such scenes and we had taken our child away not to let him experience the most painful scene in his tender age.
My child always shared his toys with Tinkudada. Tinku dada could not talk. His ever open mouth always gasped for breath when my child would give him toys and play on his own to keep him happy. If Tinkudada ever laughed that would have the most glorious moment in his life. Both of them would laugh together and we elder will smile with tears in our eyes.
It was heartening to see the family in pain for a child. All their time, dedication, effort, happiness everything was concentrated on the child. If the child ever laughed, that was the laugh of that family, if he ever stopped breathing the whole family died. As their friend and well wisher we used to die as well.
I remember that I told my wife once, it will be good for them if the child dies. This kind of every day death for years was ruining their life, their happiness and we used to wonder what had helped the couple to keep their cool and peace.
They would never visit any places or go out during festivals. I remember one year during Durga Puja when we were going out for pandal hopping with our child and booked a cab, we offered them a ride. But they had refused telling the child was not well. We could not say anything else. We wished them luck, blessed the child and went for pandal hopping. Once during the kite festival when my child was busy enjoying on the rooftop with me and my friends flying kites, this kid was silently gasping for his breath in his flat with his parents were around.
We knew Prakash was a regular drinker. Since they did not have much money he used to go to nearby bar for labour class people. It was evident that he just wanted to forget the pain of his child. We used to feel sorry for Priya who was always around the child 24X7 and never took rest.
I remember the Diwali in 2010 when we all were celebrating bursting crackers on our building rooftop and my son was running around. We had to run around him more than we could burst crackers. There was music, party, late night cracker fest and lots of food that. When we were doing all that on rooftop, Tinku and has family were watching television in their closed flat. Probably they could not sleep that night and their celebration was from within the closed doors of their flat.
After some time we left Hyderabad and went back to Kolkata. Eventually the two families got detached from each other. After all who wants to around sad people and families? That imbibes negative energy in us. We can feel sorry for them but can’t help in any other manner.
One year have passed ever since we went out of the city and then for some reason I had to visit Hyderabad again for sometime. I met Priya in a multiplex by chance. She was with her brother. I was elated to find her. But I was searching for Tinku but he was nowhere to be found. I asked Priya about Tinku. She said Tinku was no more in this world.
She tried to hold back her tears and I could not. The celebration faded away in one moment. I loved the child as much I loved my child. Any child needs our love and care and it does not matter whose child it is. The child was there but every moment he was suffering. Probably this death gave him the much needed relief, probably his parents could look for another child and happiness in their subsequent life. I went back to Kolkata in a few days.
The news of Tinku’s death made me think of so many sweet memories both the families had together. Tinku could not take part in those celebrations but his brother my son had made him celebrate, made him laugh, made him enjoy.
I could not share the news with anyone. I reached my home and rang the doorbell. The whole building was well lit, there was music from inside, voices of a lot of people could be heard, too. My wife opened the door. My son came running from nowhere shouting, “Papa has come, papa has come”.
My homecoming was the beginning of his celebration and every time he began his celebration our celebration also started. The light, food, relatives all of that reminded me that another Diwali had come. I went to the terrace with my child to start celebration.
After all, life has to go on.