It was September 19th last week, Monday afternoon around lunch time when amazon app on my phone notified me about a delivery at my apartment complex. Package was received by Ms. Green in leasing office. I was not feeling well since previous night because we had gone to water-park on Sunday and most of the afternoon all we did was swimming. I was exhausted when we got back home from Splash town, even didn’t feel like turning on my pc so i read few pages of the book i was about to complete and went to sleep.
When i came to work next morning, my body was aching and felt dehydrated. Around 14:30 My manager was in a meeting, i texted him if i could leave early that day because was not feeling great.
‘Sure man ! go home and take some rest’ he was kind enough. I packed my computer and drove back home. Since it was mid afternoon, there was hardly any traffic. Before 15:00 i was in front of leasing office parking lot.
‘I am expecting a package’ i approached a white man who was busy looking at his desktop screen.
I glanced around, Ms. Green waved her hand and gave me half smile- she was speaking to a couple, i guessed they must be Indian, probably south Indian and were there to see an apartment.
‘Oh ! sure ! what apartment number?’ white man asked me. ‘Christopher’ small golden name-tag on his shirt read his name.
‘1602’ i put my driver licence on his table, man rushed to the mail room and came with a small amazon prime box. I Signed and left.
At apartment i opened the box, there was a pink ‘blink-time watch’ and two bottles of calcium and a bottle of iron supplements. These vitamin supplements were for my eldest brother Ashok.
I kept these items in a suitcase with other items. I was scheduled to fly home via Turkish Airlines on October 5 to celebrate Dasai and Tihar and since date was nearing, i was ordering stuffs from amazon and other online stores. I was still not sure, what should i take for my mother.
‘Is there anything you would like me to bring from here mum ?’ i had asked my mother over phone in one of the call.
She thought for few seconds and said hesitantly ‘If you could bring one packet of cardamom, that would be great….its expensive here?’ I was like ‘what’. I wanted my mother to say something for her, something personal, something exclusively for her. May be like a mobile or an ornament or something i don’t know. I felt sad by her request.
‘Sure mom, i will bring Cardamom’ i just said and didn’t ask any further.
‘And medicine for Ashok’ She said.
‘Yeah, i have ordered that already, i should be receiving soon’ I said. By medicine, she was referring to calcium and iron supplements.
Month before this conversation, my brother had been sick and was taken to clinic where doctor had said ‘you are feeling weak due to lack of calcium and iron’ and he prescribed some tablets and during my conversation with mother, she had revealed this information to me.
‘I will bring best calcium and iron supplements from here for my brother’ i said. Sometime in same week, there was a missed call notification on my phone, caller was my brother. I called him on Viber and we spoke for few minutes. He wanted to share good news about his son Manish’s admission into Kathmandu University. Manish had waited a whole year to get into KU and finally his was among selected students. Entire family was overwhelmed with joy.
‘When you come home for Dasai, we will celebrate big.. this time’ my brother had concluded our conversation with the statement. I was also worried about Manish and it was relief to hear about his admission.
‘man this festive season is going to be awesome’ I said to myself indulging into own thoughts.
October 5 was only two weeks away.
Sep 20 morning 6:30 am.
I was working on my college assignment night before and had slept around 02:00 am. Without much desire of going to work, i got up from bed and as soon i clicked home button of my iPhone to check time, noticed 9 missed calls, 5 texts messages and few Viber notifications.
Few calls were from Nepal, two were from Dubai and two were from Sister in Dallas. Opened my messages and there it was ‘Call me asap, very bad news’. It was text from Dubai. From- Rishi, my younger brother.
Strange sensation ran all over my body. I felt as if there was no energy at all. I didn’t want to call anyone. I didn’t want to know anything. I went to restroom, brushed and took shower. I knew, there was a news waiting for me which i never wanted to hear.
I made a cup of milk tea and went to balcony, sat on a chair and drank it looking over trees and parked cars. Finally , i gathered courage to call Rishi.
‘Rishi…hello ?’ i said, once the call was picked.
‘…Hello Michael…’ Rishi’s voice was as if he was suffering from cold and flu. I realized he was crying.
‘Give me the news’ i said.
‘Ashok dai is no more…with us’ he broke down again.
‘When ? how ?’ i asked.
‘He was driving a car to Tamghas….and car fell off a cliff’
‘He was taken to hospital where doctor announced him…’ Rishi gave me the news, i took long breath.
‘Okey….’ i didn’t know what to say at this point.
‘Alright, its evening here but am going to call my company for emergency leave, i will fly out tomorrow’ He said and hung up.
And here i was, standing in-front of mirror, looking over those calcium and Iron bottles inside open suitcase lying on the floor.
I didn’t know, what exactly to do. I called my mother.
‘Hello Babu….how are you?’ she asked me with her soft voice. I didn’t say a word.
‘Your brother got into accident babu, and they have taken him to hospital, Uncle and Sushil are on their way to him’ She said with crying voice.
So she didn’t know at that point that Ashok dai is no more with us. Her son was dead already and she didn’t know. No one has said anything to her yet. Last year she lost her husband, with husband, she lost the will to live. I didn’t dare to tell her about Ashok dai.
‘Alright momma, i am going to call you soon, Rishi will be home tomorrow’ I hung up the phone.
It was bright sunny day in Texas. Weather looked perfect. I put my shirt on and picked my computer bag, locked the apartment and drove my CRV to office. There was a heavy traffic on road, i took the toll road, which usually i don’t and reached office before 09:00.
I turned my computer on and started surfing Nepali news sites, i was searching for a news which i never wanted to find but, it was here: गुल्मीमा कार दुर्घटना, एक जनाको मृत्यु
with a photo of a brother’s car and title ‘Car Accident in Gulmi, One dead’
I read the news, it was my brother who was dead among three travelling in the car. Two had suffered injuries.
My heart was broken into pieces. He was just 40, too early to go. My eyes filled with tears and i just couldn’t hold it. I stepped out. Tears fell down like rain and it felt like i am going to have a heart attack. Blood pressure increased and throat felt dry. I felt so guilty and regretted for not telling my brother how much i loved him and how much he meant to me. I wanted to scream ‘Brother please please don’t go’. I called my friend Anas Ibraheem in North Carolina and cried over phone.
Went back to table and worked all day. Didn’t speak a word.
Came back to apartment and completely broke down. I silently cried for hours that evening, going through his messages and photos in Viber. All my life i loved him to death but due to his occasional alcohol addiction, i had never expressed my feelings to him. I had never told him, how much i loved him and now he was gone, before i could say anything.
I will still be flying home on October 5th but there will be no more my ‘Ashok Dai’ to welcome me.
Brother, forgive me. I couldn’t even bid you proper farewell. I will miss you every day of rest of my life. Wherever you are – Rest in Peace mero dai.