By the time I was eleven, I was sick of school already. I hated everything. I wanted to sleep and stuff my face with Pringles and stay on the couch like a fat cushion.

It was that summer, 2002, that Dad decided enough was enough. Every kid was doing amazingly well, he said, taking their classes and homework seriously. Except me. He unceremoniously packed me into the car, me screaming like my skin was on fire, and whisked me off somewhere.

Ten minutes later, we stopped in front of this house with peach walls.

I was still bawling.

My Dad turned to me and said, “Baba, behave, please. You’re getting a new tutor.” Now, I detest tutors on principle  – present tense because I still do – and this was going to be hard. He’s a nice man, my Dad, so I stopped my bawling and nodded, eleven year old me, brave face and all.

Dad actually held the door open for me. We walked up the stone steps and rang the doorbell. A tiny elderly woman, my height, all apple-cheeked, sparkly-eyed and smiley, opened the door. She greeted Dad with a “Hello, Doctor” and showed us in.

The room hit me like whoa.

The whole area was filled with bookcases bursting over with books. Now, I’ll admit, I was hooked. Books with Russian sounding authors, books with weird symbols on the spines, books with varying stages of yellowing jackets, well-thumbed, everywhere. Like a home library of enormous proportions.

“Seems like she likes it here!”

I had forgotten we were here to get me a new tutor. I whipped around and there he was, this old and incredibly smiley guy in white linen pajamas and a tee. And carpet slippers. I’m shy with new people so at this point, I think I kind of hid behind Dad.

This guy said his name was Mr. M and he’d be happy to see me start attacking his library. Some of my shyness gone, I emerged from behind Dad and asked Mr. M, blurted actually, “I’m glad you like Harry Potter too! Who’s your favorite, though?”

Mr. M seemed delighted to answer, “Hermione, of course!” I near about high-fived him. The ice broken effortlessly, Dad left me there so I’d start reading straight away, and he promised to come pick me up after we were done.

And that’s how it started. Mr. M become my proxy grandfather, since I’d never had a grandpa (both my grandpas died before I was born) and I got a new nickname, Vernon. Because of my pushing him to eat rabbit food. You know, carrots and stuff. If you’re a Potterhead, you’ll know what this means. We’d hang out everyday after school, he’d help me with grammar and prepositions and he taught me phonetics and he was the BEST DARN ENGLISH TEACHER IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY. Also, the best grandad. He and Mrs. M had totally adopted me too.

Thing is, he was very fussy about his food. Despite my constant cajoling, he refused to eat his greens – rabbit food. Mr. M was vegan and picky, and it hurt his body. His liver failed, despite the fact that he was a non-alcoholic. Cirrhosis and ascites** kicked in randomly and rapidly and he had to be moved into a nursing home.

All those tubes, coming out of him like transparent worms – it hurt to watch. The second love of my life, after my Dad, he was frail yet he still managed to crack jokes. I’d mostly run out of the room to cry, it broke me to hear his voice crack and the sparkle in his eyes dim.

I remember, towards the end, when he could still talk, he told my Dad, “You’ve got a brilliant child. Don’t you worry about her. She’ll do great.” He’d never live to see me get into med school. He’d never see me again.

He died on this very day, August 4, seven years ago, aged 65, ripped from me before his time, at 19:03 hours Indian standard time.

(**kwashiorkor causes ascites.)

I can’t write anymore today.

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70 thoughts on ““The Day You Slipped Away”

  1. Beautiful story…thank -you for sharing and may you hold onto those wonderful memories. Your writing is so vivid I can feel how you loved him. Sending hugs. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh baby girl I am weeping for your loss. At least you were blessed worth having had him in your life, and he with having you. I love you. πŸ’–

        Liked by 1 person

      1. My dear, you’re twenty-something, a doctor, and have not only my pride in you, but, the have, by the expression of your spirit, earned the love of many, including me.

        You are hereby authorized to dismiss their feelings, as you aren’t responsible for them. They are, and, those feelings do NOT show any honor. So, I dismiss them, and so should you. Perhaps, if they ever wake up, and see what a beautiful child they’ve produced, they’ll come around. If not, well, they deserve their own bad feelings. You don’t have to take them on any more….

        End of rant…

        Live up to what your mentor would have wanted for you, and don’t sweat the rest. You’ll be fine.

        gigoid

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s mutual; you’re a good person…

        I don’t mean to be judgmental, but, it sounds to me like your parents need help…. They’ve lost their way, & forgotten what being a parent is all about….

        But, you just be yourself, and maybe they’ll wake up some day…

        gigoid

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Definitely the all-around best method; negativity has no chance against laughter…. Besides, it’s great fun, and, confuses the hell out of someone when they go off on a rant, & you just stand there with a smile, with an occasional chuckle when they get outrageous; I’ve seen people turn purple without saying a word to them… Just be ready to duck….

        πŸ˜‰

        Take care, & blessed be…

        gigoid

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Cool; you should keep it handy when around your mom… When she asks what it is, you just put your index finger alongside your nose, shake your head, wink, and walk away….

        She won’t know what to think….

        Good luck….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand your pain and I am truly sorry that you still miss this great man. He would want you to hang on to the happy memories, I do think. What a wonderful story to share. You are so lucky to have had this experience in your life. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I realized it later. I do not remember that one particular line which has so much significance in your life. Rabbit food. But its great. And how could I not remember Marasmus. May it was the time when I was reading may be my head was sleeping πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

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