A Backward Glance

Amma had asked me last week to check the account number for her bank account in India.  Having some idle time this evening, I decide to go snoop around Amma’s things and find that account number for her.  One of the first things that I stumble upon is a little 192 page ruled notebook (remember those?).  Decide to check if Amma might have written her account numbers in her notebook, and start flipping through the pages.

The book turns out to be just a monthly expense tracking notebook that Amma had kept.  It is from 2010.  And as I turn the pages, in between Amma’s oh-so-neat handwriting, Appa’s confident scribbles catch my eye and give me a jolt.  I pay closer attention to the entries – coffee powder, idhayam nallennai, saravana bhavan, call taxi, karikai – the uneventful, blissful stuff that life is made of.

I note a change in the tone of the entries as the months pass.  A change in tone that I am now able to detect – only because I am reading the entries in retrospect, and have lived through the life-altering changes that came shortly thereafter.  On November 12, 2010 (almost exactly six years ago), intertwined with mundane-ities like “milk and newspaper” is an entry “taxi to Vijaya hospital”, which I know portended the start of many such future visits.  Entries in Appa’s handwriting stop at the end of November, and never make an appearance again.

We were in India for the whole of December 2010, grappling with Appa’s sudden illness and figuring out logistics.  There are no entries in the book for the month of December.  The book trudges along bravely in January 2011 after our departure from India, with Amma’s hand solo-tracking significantly larger spending than for coffee powder and nallennai – doctor bills, medicines, medical testing, you name it.

The book abruptly ends on March 21, 2011, the day that Appa passed away.  We left for India that day, and brought Amma back with us after Appa’s ceremonies.

There was nothing left to track, I guess.


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