Today, a day that was otherwise ordinary ended with two pieces of sad news, the news of two deaths. Two deaths that were very different in their nature. Two people, who couldn’t be more different, died. One died in my family, the other one half a world away. Both deaths made me sad, but in different ways.
One was my grandmother. Well, technically not exactly my grandmother but my father’s aunt: a relative whom the English-speaking people, who know nothing of the relationships that we have in Indian joint families, would prefer to call a great aunt. However, here in
Phulthamu (that’s what I called her) was the simplest person I’ve ever met, with childlike innocence. There are so many memories that I’ll forever associate with her. Like the Chandmama magazine that she regularly read. That magazine surely seems funny and outdated in this age of Pottermania, but there was a time I used to breathlessly finish any issue I could lay my hands on. And I could always find one by her bedside. She even carried these magazines whenever she traveled by train, and distributed them among us to read on the journey. Similarly I can never forget her deeds and comments that we often joked about, which were not really that silly after all. For instance, I still remember the time when we drank half a bottle of 7’Up and left the bottle on the table. Phulthamu, in her working spree, filled the rest up with water and put it into the fridge. Now any one of us would probably have done the same thing absent mindedly, especially since 7’Up looks like water, but everyone scolded her for being silly. Another time when she saw me with my earphones for the first time, she had asked me whether I needed hearing-aid for both ears. We laughed about that innocent comment for ages, but I now I feel it wasn’t that stupid coming from a person who had never seen earphones in her life.
She was old and sick and was suffering for quite some time. She died at her home, on her bed. It was the end of an era. We are going to miss her a lot.
The other person was Steve Irwin, better known as The Crocodile Hunter. He died this morning in a sting ray attack off the coast of
Was I a die-hard Crocodile Hunter fan? Not at all. I hardly watched any TV. However, whoever has seen a single show hosted by this amazing man will always remember him. He used to catch hold of every kind of creatures with bare hands, kiss ugly lizards and call them his “Little friends”, and do all kinds of unimaginable things. Once, in a TV show, I saw him chase a wild boar through a marshland and finally catch it barehanded in water. And then there were the crocodiles, of course. He handled these huge ferocious wild reptiles as dexterously as a mongoose plays with a snake.
When we had to remember the names of the seven layers in computer network architecture during my college days, we used to say “Please do not touch Steve’s pet alligators” (the first letters of the words in the sentence make up the names of the layers in proper order: physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, application). I don’t know who made that up, but every time I said that funny sentence, Steve Irwin’s face came to my mind.
I used to say he’ll die like this one day, playing with dangerous animals. The sting ray stung him right in the heart. He must have died an instantaneous, painless death doing what he liked doing most. The news is stunning and sad because that man was so active, so alive.
Rest in peace Steve, we will never forget you.