Third year civil engineering, Hmawbi Technological University
I don’t know whose fault it is, grandpa…Is this me? You? Or your privileged grandson? But I know, I am also guilty though. I want to say sorry for everything I did even though you can’t hear me anymore. I know… it’s too late now…
My family, my uncle’s family and my grandparents are living in the same yard. Uncle and his family live in my grandparents’ house and our house is next to them. There are no vales between the two houses but rivalries and different beliefs in religions have made a deep distance between the two families. And this becomes the reason why little me made something cold-hearted to leave me now grieving.
One evening when I got back from school, I saw grandpa was sitting silently under the dim light on the bench in front of his house, unconsciously staring at somewhere. It wasn’t the way he used to be. In the pleasant evenings like this, he was always active to talk about his tedious adventures to his wife or my uncle or his old fellows, or he would soulfully sing hymns and pray to God to bless the family. Unlike the way he’s supposed to be, he seemed weary and stilled as a stone.
“What’s wrong with grandpa? He seems lonely.” I thought.“Maybe I should go and talk to him…” I told myself.“Well… why shall I do it for whose good sake? He has got the family he loves the most by his side. What he does is none of my business since he has ditched me!”
I just ignored and got into my house. Of course, there was no point of accompanying somebody who hurt my feelings. From the time my cousin, the second grandchild, got to school, I could never hear the words like, “You did great.”, or, “That’s my grand-daughter!” I fell over backwards to win his love. But I failed… Even at the time showing him off my achievements, he would boast me how his newly grand-son is doing great with his crappy routines. Oh how much I hate him!
Since my parents were usually picking fight, my grandparents had become my new shelter. Besides, as the eldest grandchild, I don’t wanna lose that place of mine as the family’s favorite kid. Most of my sweet childhood memories were sculpted with grandpa, grandma and their big black oil-painted wooden house. It was like a second home to me. Later, in those heavenly days, dad lost his job and our family got into crisis, things turned out upside down. Instead of giving a hand, Uncle seemed pleased to become the breadwinner and we were looked down on like the underdogs. Rivalries got more vigorous and I was no longer welcomed there. There’s no more place for me to sit down with them at their breakfast table. I felt like I was kicked out, replaced and discriminated by my trusted and beloved people… Since then, I guess all those pitiful feelings were turned into jealousy, hatred and frustration. Oh how awesome my childhood was! Well, these don’t matter anymore, though. Those bitter days had gone. Besides, my family got back to a good condition since dad went abroad.
Honestly, in the early days, I didn’t give a damn about what grandpa had been acting … day by day; grandpa was still acting the same every evening and I started feeling bad about myself for turning a blind eye.
“Shall I talk to him? He looks sad.”
All the good times flashed upon my mind and eased my bitterness toward him.
“Yeah… I was his grand-daughter. We used to have good times though.” I murmured myself. “But what shall I say?”
It wasn’t easy to make a joyful sweet small talk to somebody who wasn’t in touch for years.
Anyway, I braced myself and greeted him. ”Hey grandpa, what’re you doing?” “Sitting.” He replied me short but with normal voice.
“Aww… I see. Where’s grandma?”
“She’s upstairs, watching TV.” He replied and kept looking somewhere far away as if his eyes were fixed to it. He was like waiting for somebody to return…. If so, that somebody might be uncle, I guess.
“Aww… yeah… so I have to go. Bye!”
I left him, feeling awkward and weird as I walked back to my home.
The goodbye of that evening lasted for months. I tried not to look at the place he usually sits to avoid the awkward eye contact.
One Sunday evening I got back from downtown, I saw two Christian preachers outside of grandpa’s house.
“Why are they here? Ugh… I wish this is not another preaching and thanksgiving.”
I murmured. Speaking of these, my grandparents and dad, their son, are Baptists and mom is a Buddhist. Well… I chose to become an agnostic. As the family culture, the eldest grandchild needs to be at the place of family thanksgiving.
“I’m home mom. Do you happen to know what is going on at grandpa’s house? I saw the preachers there.”
“Aww… you don’t know yet. Grandpa is suffering from TB. You should go and be around them while praying. In fact, you’re the eldest grand-daughter.”
Mother said with no emotion in her tone of voice.
“Aww… I see. I’m not into mood to go.” I said nothing more and got into my room.
Actually, I was frightened a bit, thinking if this would become a goodbye forever to my grandpa. But irresponsibly and heartlessly, I didn’t show up at their praying…
Thinking about those days, I can feel the ambivalence of my feeling; the feeling of love and hatred (or pride inside the unconsciousness). After that day, he had become a part of my midnight thoughts. Mom sometimes went and cooked for them. The only family member who still wasn’t showing up is me! Though every time I tried, something inside my mind pulled me back and tied up my feet.
One smoky evening of January, on my depressing birthday, I decided to get out of my room to see grandpa. He used to come and pray for me on my disappointing birthdays. He was sitting on the bench. Unlike the old days, he looked so boney and couldn’t even say those long stories he always loved to tell. I saw grandma beside him.
“How is he? Is he getting better?”
“As you see, we are going to hospitalize him next week.”
I got numbed for a while… sitting silently beside my grandparents for some minutes then I left.
But I wanted to give him a hug and pray for him to get well soon… More than this, I wanted to tell him that I love him. By packing back the words I wanted to say, the feelings I wanted to show, the steps toward my house seemed so heavy and guilty. With an aching heart and weary head, I closed the door of my room and wept. I felt so unforgivable though I couldn’t conquer the unknown feeling pulling me back. What is that feeling? Is that pride? Or hatred? Or do I just become a coldblooded animal?
Now… the person who I hate became me, myself. I was way too despicable as a grandchild who wasn’t good enough to her own grandparents!
I heard that grandpa was in the hospital, but I didn’t go and spend time with him even for a minute. I spent my time from home to school on weekdays and gloomily sat inside my home on weekends, but giving all ears to the outside world. I got to hear my aunt from the next house, muttering how frustrating it was to cook for the whole family, the way she disrespectfully talked to grandma and their fights I’d never seen before. I had to hear grandma crying on the phone while talking with dad. I don’t know if I were pleased to see these scenes. I’m not sure. But deep inside, I know I was feeling guilty and hating myself somehow.
“Grandpa has rest in peace in heaven this afternoon.” Mom said as I got back from school.
“Will there be a funeral in a traditional way at home?” Calmly, I asked.
“No, there won’t, as he passed away in the hospital.” She replied and went outside in a rush.
I felt nothing that much. Suddenly, mom’s phone rang, and it was from dad.
“Mya May, I can’t believe it. I didn’t get a chance to see him at his last breath.”
I heard his sobbing voice as I picked up the phone. Then he cried painfully.
“I can’t speak to you now Tha-mee. I’ll call you later.”
He hanged up as he knew it was I. I guess he didn’t want me to hear him weeping. I couldn’t stand any longer as I heard his voice.
“Please forgive me daddy. I wasn’t good enough to him.”
Three days later, we, our family, relatives, and friends of grandpa gathered with long faces at Yay-way cemetery to send off grandpa together to peaceful heaven. Yes… it is today….
As I am the eldest grandchild, I got the chance to see him before they closed the coffin. In the coffin, white as snow, I see him peacefully lying in the traditional costume among white flowers. I’m now trying too hard to not cry as I look into his face while the priest is reciting the prayer.
“Oh Holy Spirit, now thou have taken back thy loving son to peaceful heaven. Thou made human from dust and.…”
I couldn’t conceal myself any longer. All those memories flash back, making a scenario of the beautiful days we had together and tears burst out unstoppably… Those words I never tell him are screaming and swirling inside my mind.
“Grandpa… I am so sorry. I wasn’t good enough. I was such a devil. I tried grandpa. I tried. I do love you. I wanted to take care of you. I wanted to be your favorite grandchild. I just couldn’t make it. Please forgive me grandpa… Please forgive me.”