Many a time I wondered what would happen of me after 200 years. Sure enough I would have been long gone, but what exactly would have happened of me? Would I be remembered? How much?
When I was in my 11th and 12th standard I knew a person by name James. Gosh! I even forgot his last name. He was 87 years young and was living in Home for Aged. I was in a residential convent and as part of community service; we were required to do something good to the community every weekend for 3 hours (every Sunday for 2 years). I was assigned to Home for the Aged, to James. All which was required of me was talk to him, that’s all.
His wife passed away 35 years ago then, I wasn’t even born when she was long gone. His children were well settled overseas and James had no one to come to visit him on Sundays. Initially I was apprehensive, what would I talk to someone who is decades older to me? I was in teens and he was nearing 90. What could we possibly have in common?
To my surprise, we did have quite a lot in common. We spoke about books; I should say he spoke about books. He used to miss them but hoped that they found a worthy home. He also used to speak a lot about his wife. Since 35 long years have passed, he only remembered a few bits and pieces of her; the colors she liked, the coffee she made, the beautiful voice of her’s…and then he used to fade. I just used to sit there wondering what he must be going through. But he did mention one thing; he wasn’t sad any more that she was gone. Memories have become so much a part of him that he doesn’t need her in person anymore. Memories would do just fine.
Since he had bad eye sight I used to read news paper to him. He didn’t quite enjoy that. He always said that his nurse could read that for him and that I talk.
Hindsight I think James was actually listening most of the time while I was happily yapping away. It should have been other way round (that’s what my role required me to do), but never did he stop me. I should have been more sensitive.
He had a very small room and all his worldly possessions would fit in a small trunk; snugly put away under his tidy bed. He also had a small backyard where we grew seasonal vegetables.
On one Christmas we shared, he gave me a small powder box. He said that it was all he had and I was so happy that he actually has something to give, even though he himself has hardly any.
More than a decade has gone by since I had last seen him or heard from him. I wonder what happened to him. I wonder who was assigned to him after I left school. I wonder if they had been kind to him.
I wonder if he joined his wife or still at Home for the Aged. I made a mental note that I go check with the Home for the Aged about him, next time when I go to that city again.
Now, why did I suddenly remember him? I don’t know. I just remembered…