I miss him.
And whenever I miss him, I try to recollect the few moments that I can string together.
Or look at vintage, frayed, black & white pictures.
There is one, which can easily fill in as a poster for clowns of a visiting circus.
Four of us together.
I am thankful that the picture is not in color.
The garish costumes, I still recall the original, would increase the comic quotient by a factor of 100.
Arranged in a two by two matrix, one displaying a crown full of flowing mane, the other wearing a Jim Corbett hat, the third adorning a contraption that is somewhere between a bandana and a sport cap and him, just displaying a normal head.
He was different!
Even the smiles were disparate.
One flashing all 32, the other a scheming grin, the third a crooked cocktail of a smile dissolving into a grimace and him, a simple angelic smile that lit up his already perfect and handsome face.
Yet again, he was different.
Among the four, his shirt was the only one that was a plain color, not jungles inter-spaced with prancing unicorns, a cat grinning with unusually long whiskers or a weird looking hand holding a globe…
His dress was different too.
The town we grew up in used to get quite cold in winters, a surprising thing for a town in southern part of India.
So much so, that the coconut oil kept in an odd shaped glass jar, a square base followed by a bulbous bulging sphere for the bottom half and then tapering upward in pyramidal steps converging arrangement ending in an open mouthed circular top, used to freeze solid!
We often scooped out finger loads of the oil and it was mesmerizing to see the oil melt in your palm by the body heat!
Looking back I realize that this bottle never had a cap, though it was never noticed as strange in those years.
So, back to winters!
We all had our sweaters too. Not the fancy turtle neck, patch on the elbow, monogrammed stuff of today. An utilitarian stuff.
Of course they had to be different. On similarities, all of them were worn like a jacket with a button up in the front, big round wooden buttons. All of them had the pattern of big squares like how paddy fields would like from a plane.
One was brown, really dark, almost like a chocolate with some spattering of white dots, the next was green, a sickly bright green with a spattering of black dots and the third was pale yellow, almost brown, with a generous sprinkle of mustard shapes.
Try as I might, even with endless raking of my fairly strong memory, I can’t recollect what his sweater looked like. I am sure it would have been a sober simple design.
What about personal recollections?
How do I remember him?
There is just one image in my mind.
We lived in a small lane with houses lining either sides and the small lane widening and narrowing as it crept from one end to the other.
This is the picture of our lane. (today, but not much has changed in the last 50 years)
I remember him, standing in the middle of the road, at a place that is at the mid distance between our home and our diagonal neighbor.
He was standing there, with his curly long hair falling on his forehead gently teasing his brows, with the most beautiful smile I have ever witnessed in my life (50 years and counting….) wearing just a loose black shirt with big stripes of different shades of black and stark naked below his waist.
Why he decided not to live after 1253 days is something I never understood.
I still miss him.
Continuously , since the last 46 years…………….