My fumbling words could not reach his ears, so I drew my chair closer to his. I looked directly into his blinking eyes and articulated the question in a louder voice. He stared back, bobbing his head, and retorted, ‘What?’ with a gaping, toothless mouth.
So on Thursday last week, I skipped getting drenched in sweat and rolling on dirt and grass (karate) for spending some quality time with my maternal grandparents. As it so happened, a new flavour was added to the usual meet-and-greet, where my grandmother frantically arranges for snacks while my grandfather stares blankly into space, occasionally asking a few questions.
My mother popped the first question. She asked her old man to re-narrate an incident from one of his numerous trekking adventures into the mountains.
Then I started an interrogation owing to my heightening curiosity. He did reply, but only with fragments: certain moments, situations or places that had been etched deeply into his mind.
But while recalling those bits and pieces, his eyes were bright.
When one ventures deep into the bosom of a mountain, one inevitably leaves behind a piece of one’s heart while departing. Maybe that is why my grandfather’s brows frowned and eyelids squeezed when he vainly tried to seize those slippery hazy memories.
Saving a friend who got buried in snow and almost froze to death. Taking up cooking chores late at night when nobody else has the energy to stand upright with aching backs. Helping other trekking groups cross difficult terrain. Going for fishing at a nearby lake or stream to enhance high-altitude culinary tastes. Building a mental rapport with locals who would provide food and shelter for the night.
Many such fascinating stories about the energetic feats of my grandfather were filled in my ears by one or two of his friends or my own mother.
There exist plentiful incredible and mesmerizing phenomena in this world to provide one with a lifetime of beautiful memories to make and cherish during old age. Even if one’s memory retaining capacity is weakened, those feats never fail to leave a mark on the succeeding generations.