It was just another day.
I came home an hour late from college and it was already dark. I went about the house searching for something to eat and I called out for my dad but there wasn’t any reply.
I looked for him everywhere and finally found him just outside my house talking to someone with a grim look on his face.
I understood something’s wrong.

Half hour later, dad came to me and said that his brother isn’t doing well and has been admitted in a hospital nearby.
We took the bike out and rushed to the hospital. My dad spoke to his brother, my uncle for some time, came out and we went home.

We were having our dinner when we were informed that his condition deteriorated pretty quickly and they needed help. I said I’d go and raced to the hospital. I could see my uncle unconscious on the bed. This is the first time I’ve seen him like this.

“Walk with me, son.”

He’d say, whenever he visited us.
I walked with him to the bus bay and we talked and laughed about silly things that we came across on our way.

There was never a day he didn’t smile and seeing him like this wasn’t that easy. An ambulance has been called so that he could be shifted to a more sophisticated hospital.

I couldn’t step inside the ambulance, I wasn’t strong enough. I took my bike and followed them.

“When you’re in trouble, just remember that I’m always here for you”

“Yes uncle, I know.”

“So, you’ll remember me only when you’re in trouble, eh;)”

No, I didn’t mean I’d remember you only when…..”

“I was kidding.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about these conversations we had. The times we laughed together.

“He really likes you.”, my dad always said.

“You know, of all the idiots, I mean, you kids, I like you the most”

Does that mean I’m an idiot?”

“There isn’t a person who isn’t an idiot, haha. Don’t worry, I’m an idiot too.”

The way he talked, the way he walked…
Everything flashed before my eyes.

He was taken into the Intensive care unit…
I parked my bike and ran upstairs to his ward. An hour later, they said he was shifted to the general ward.

Many of our relatives gathered in the meantime and we were allowed to talk to him.

His bed was upright and he was tied to it with some belts. He had an oxygen mask on.

Thin hands, thinner legs and head looked inflated. There were pipes through his nose and mouth. I stood there, staring at him.

“Here, come sit with me. It’s been a long time since we talked. How’re studies going on? I don’t want people talking bad about my son.”

“I quit, uncle, I dropped out. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sorry.”

He took my hands into his,

“I’m glad you had the courage to do it. Go, find something you like.”

Now I don’t have the courage to look at him. He signalled me by waving his hand, even though he didn’t have much energy left.

I went forward and took his hand into mine and shook it gently.

I’ll see you at home tomorrow, uncle. You gotta buy me something to eat.”

He smiled at me.
I felt a little relieved.
The doctor asked me to leave as they were taking him for an operation.

A part of my uncle went inside the theatre and another walked with me to the exit.


12 thoughts on “The last handshake

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