27 September, 2012: The eyes didn’t seem to go dry and the cheeks had the the dried-up marks of tears. Suman had been crying for three hours or so. She hadn’t cried this way even when her grandmother had expired a year ago. She and her 20 year-old elder brother, Shuvam loved their grandmother very much. When Shuvam passed his Class 12 board exams in 2010 with flying colours, his grandmother spent a decent portion of her savings to buy him a brand new Nokia smartphone!
Suman’s tears fell on the slightly-cracked screen of the Nokia 5800. The phone was still in a workable condition; the crack occurred when Shuvam had dropped it out of shock, a few months back. A few months back, in April 2012, when the doctor diagnosed Shuvam of a rare form of cancer that had reached a stage when his days could be counted, Suman was devastated. Just a year ago, she had lost one of the gems of her life and now, she was about to see the Almighty take her brother too! She had planned that after her class 10 board exams, which she would take the next year, the family would go on a trip to Manali and have a great time there together. But, life can be a cruel monster sometimes. Despite many attempts to cure Shuvam, the boy took his last breath. And since yesterday, Suman was inconsolable.
Sub-consciously, she pressed a button of the smartphone. The screen came to life. The wallpaper was that of her brother holding a guitar. He played the guitar really well. She spoke, looking towards the phone with moist eyes, “Dada, don’t stare at me like that. You seem happy to see me crying, isn’t it?” She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t feel the phone make two faint beeps. “I am not crying like I used to, when our cousins threw stupid jokes on me and you relished to see me break down. But, I miss your laugh, dada.”
Just then, a husky male voice replied, “Piku, don’t cry. You know you look like a funny ghost from that horror show on the television.” Suman jumped in fear. Where did her brother’s voice come from?
“Look at you. Always getting scared at the smallest pretext.”
Suddenly, she realized that the voice was coming from the phone. She looked at it and the phone buzzed two times. As if it meant her brother was giving a nod, saying that indeed it was he who was speaking.
Suman broke into tears again. “Dada, what is this huh? You leave me alone like this and now, you dare to speak through your phone.” She wiped her tears with the white dupatta. “How are you dada? I miss you dada.”
The phone buzzed again. “Piku, first stop crying. Or else I won’t talk to you.” Suman stopped at once.
“Sister, I miss you too. And maa-baba also. But, I want you all to stop grieving for me. You see, my death was inevitable. Even after so many chemotherapy sessions, I didn’t seem to recover. Soon, I realized I need to live the remaining days of my life to the fullest, and shouldn’t you be happy I closed my eyes with a smile on my death-bed? You should be happy that I didn’t suffer for a long period.”
Suman felt choked, “You think, dada, this house is the same without your presence? I don’t know how I will grow up without you. You were my inspiration, encouragement, support and what not. My friends used to envy me for having a brother like you. Now, they would be happy I guess. I will not talk to them anymore.”
“Hey, don’t say that. Look, you can’t isolate yourself like this. You need friends; being lonely would only make you miss me more.”
“But, I would miss you.” Suman replied in a harsh tone. “I need you dada.”
The phone didn’t answer. 5 minutes passed. Suman shook the phone in her hands, “Dada, talk to me.” It buzzed again.
“Piku, I will always be with you. You need not worry about that. Your love for you brother will always keep me connected with you. I may not be physically around you, to guide you and to give you a loving hug when you need me, but you’ll always find my voice inside you. Whenever you need me, just give me a call. You get it, right.”……..
“Wake up!” “Wake up!”
Suman’s mother woke her up. She had fallen asleep on her bed, while crying. Her mother took Shuvam’s phone and kept it on the bed-side table and took a visibly calm and content Suman with her to the drawing room. “You okay Piku?” her mother asked her. Suman have a nod with a faint smile. “Yes, I should be!”
Meanwhile, the Nokia 5800 beeped twice.