This is not cowardice. This is not even foolish. I assure you that I have thought through this and hence, you cannot term this hasty. Of course, it is not irresponsible. I consider it a very responsible and judicious decision. Since, you always rush into judging me, I want you to know that this time I am not giving you any opportunity for the same. In case my handwriting is not legible grant me an extra minute’s ponderance over those portions that seem to evade your precise mind. It is but a dying (or rather, dead) man’s request.
The mind is an amazing device of life’s immense thaumaturgy. It reveals things unthought stemming from thoughts undesigned. It leads us through unknown labyrinths, circuitous while we stand rooted on white amorphous sands, now transformed into lapping waters, now into a seamless bed of memories holding each other’s nebulous fingers while our mind leads us forth through this humming sinuous chasms out into what seems like sunlight emerging from a night’s sky only to see ourselves as a stranger in our own eyes but a faintly familiar stranger like that baby I saw five cribs away in the maternity ward in which I was born. In such a mind I gathered the life we led together and wondered why I would be trapped in something made so discordant in spite of all the efforts that went into making it as sweet smelling as the first string of jasmine I bought for you, before you let me know that jasmine causes a headache in you. Such is the mind that has led me to what I shall soon explain to you. Such is your mind to have already anticipated the contents of this letter. Please do not brush aside what follows as being trite in repeating your knowledge. What I had to say arrived much before you could conceive it and we shant argue about that.
I am glad that the doctor diagnosed my sudden spasms (which were the genuine reason behind my spilling the coffee on your saree. I am sorry) as a result of Corticobasal degeneration. It feels special to be afflicted by something as complex sounding as that. No, it is not childishness to want that but the need to be special at least in ailment. I read up about it. Lalitha brought me some books from BCL about it. I wanted to discuss things with you, but you were busy taking second opinions from other doctors and arranging for the insurance company to pay for my treatment. Isn’t it amazing how the brain slows down the entire world to eventual immobility?
What gladdens my heart more is that, what afflicts me is something to do with my brain. I was never able to impress your friends with bright thoughts or views. I always had to smile and shrug off the jokes that your friends and you cracked about me, giving me a semblance to an obedient Pomeranian. That is fine, but now it is my brain that is the cynosure of all that engages this family. My brain!
Near the level crossing off Old Nagpur Road, there is a small undergrowth which leads into a path lined by violets and weeds. A lot of the local boys have often gotten themselves caught by cops out there for smoking and more often for not sharing their tobacco with the police officials. I had once walked along that path and it goes below the railway tracks, along the lake and back to the tracks. The view is wonderful from there. The shuffling of the lake’s surface and the slight nudging of the reeds seems well choreographed with the clackety-clack of the 2860 Gitanjali Express which usually streaks past this point around 7:15 in the morning. Yes, I know that you know what I am about to say.
I once read that death by a lion’s paw is quickest and least painful. There seems to be very little time for the pain to register before the cessation of the brain’s activity and the heart’s beating. Isn’t it amazing? I believe that this is very difficult to imagine in the world where diseases kill men – at least the ones who haven’t been killed by other men or sorrow arising from such association.
I realise that my condition would require your kindness and generosity. I have received that in excess already to demand any more from you. I cannot bear to wake to the day when you would, in frustration of having to wipe my stained bottom, throw the half soiled towel at my face. Why should you lead a life made miserable by my incapacity when you already consider yours a raw deal dealt out to you through the institution of an arranged marriage? I see myself becoming useless with each passing day and not by choice. I’d rather it didn’t happen.
I have very little as my own property. My pension would anyway reach you. I wish to leave my pen and spectacles to Lalitha. She thought I wrote well; even the stuff you called mushy and stale. Please pass on my books in the black leather bag to Naveen. He will hand them over to the Mahatma Gandhi Library. My clothes can be given to Ramu. I wish you do not take down the clock from the wall in our room. Ibrahim told me that he can wrap gauze around the striker to muffle the hourly strokes and it will disturb you less.
I think that the best way to die is the one which is quickest and least expensive. The 2860 would be traveling at a speed of roughly 120 kmph. I placed Re. 1 coins on the track and found them flattened the most by the 2860, while the other trains don’t do a very good job. I spent several evenings there trying to sing louder than the train’s siren. I think every single compartment of the train bears some lines from the songs I have sung. The sheer iron of the engine, the calmness of the lake, the softness of the breeze against the reeds and gravel below my feet should hastily bring to me what I pined for every single day while I was with you.
I wish you happiness and whatever else you still wanted, in spite of all that I tried to get for you. If you can, please do write me a letter as to what it is that you despised in me and soak it in the lake’s water, where my blood would have mingled.