Ghost of Charlie, standing next to his dead body:
My heart swells up with grief, and cholesterol from last night’s chicken wings, as I stand before you to lionize this great man as myself, who lies so peacefully, wearing a borrowed Gucci, in this wooden coffin. A man of few words (unless inebriated) and disparate occupations, I patiently waited for 80 years for death to embrace me.
My first earning came at the age of 13, when my indisposed friend Alec outsourced me an essay on “World War I: A Pyrrhic Victory?” I contemplated and wrote “Yes”. My essay fell 999 words short of the prescribed length. Although Alec was uncontrollably furious at me, he was gentleman enough to pay my remuneration of 2 rupees after I pulverized him in the school canteen. Ah! Those were the halcyon days of childhood. Once a man grows out of it, that’s the first death he dies.
I was produced and cultivated in a small town of Oreo coloured – British India to an ornithologist father and a kitty-party rummy champion mother. To which place do the Brauns originally belong is still an enigma to my entire clan. Scores of years ago, the ocean waves drifted to the western coast of India not just my lost, shipwrecked, schizophrenic grandfather, but also his confused posterity of an unknown providence.
While growing up I harboured plethora of dreams in my heart, like, scaling the Everest, playing Kho-Kho for India and teach evolution to children. But when I came of age, I figured that childhood is like a caramel-coated nutty candy. Once you lick out the caramel, all you are left with are nuts. Hard and tough. My college life ended unceremoniously when our pet parakeet bit off my father’s left ear and nostrils and left him invalid for life. To make ends meet, I began working as a salesperson for Brahma sandalwood agarbattis during daytime, and played a shill to a gambler in the half-lit subways in the night.
After dabbling in a dozen different occupations, I thought of starting a venture of my own. So I got married. I was working in an eatery when I first met George’s mother, April. In the month of May, we got wed in the graceful presence of my friends from gamblers anonymous (GA). After decades of blissful life, she left me for another world. My eyes well up every time I see that cuddly white fellow from Michelin tyres as it terribly reminds me of April. I wish her bliss in her new abode.
She now stays in Guatemala with her new husband.
As years went by, my hair turned silver, Bombay became Mumbai, and I lost a couple of friends along the way. One of the notable deaths was that of William Silverman, who succumbed to Silverman syndrome. After the prognosis, the doctor came to William and said, “We have good news and bad news for you. Bad news is that you are suffering from a newly-discovered incurable disease. The good news is that we would be naming it after you.” Today, he’s spoken about more often in the medical circle than in his friend circle.
When I reached the far end of my life, I started splurging exuberantly on chic clothes, good food, and frequent vacations abroad. My spending spree certainly fueled the economy of several third world nations, but owing to some miscalculation and of course the untrustworthy Mayans, I turned a pauper good two years before my death and hence wound up at my son’s place.
It was just last night that I was rocking in my armchair after a hearty dinner and reading a very ‘informative’ novel. My father always said that one should always read something which would make him look good if he dies in middle of it. On sensing that I was nearing my end, I flung “50 Shades of Grey” away and scampered to the teapoy to grab the Time magazine. When my son returned from work, he discovered me kneeling on the rug, arms dangling next to my lifeless body, and my lips planting a kiss on Obama, who happened to feature on the cover page of the magazine.
In the end, a slice of time is all it takes to accommodate years of living.
My death was the first time in my life that I made anyone sad. That’s how I wanted my life to be. That’s how I hope it was spent.