For the past six years of my life, I've distanced myself from my grandparents. Whenever I'd come home and see them in the kitchen, in the living room or even on the computer, I would just mumble a quaint hello and go on with my life. To me, they were never really people who I took time to get to know. Thoughts like "there's a major age gap between us" or "they'll never understand my problems" kept me away from them. Every time I considered starting up a conversation, the little voice in my head told me that I had too much work to do, or that we had nothing to talk about. For years it went on like this. Occasionally I found time for an awkward hug or "How was your day" between mouthfulls, but never in a million years did it occur to me that these two were actual people with great stories and memories to share over biscuits and tea. To this day it embarrasses me to think that I know more about actual strangers than people whom I've shared a fridge with for as long as I can imagine. Today, for the first time in what feels like forever, I had an actual conversation with my grandfather, and to my great surprise, it actually lasted for more than thirty seconds. I can't believe that to this day, I was missing out on such an intellectual, funny and sweet human being. Oh the things we talked about, my mouth actually hurts from smiling for so long. When things got a bit serious in our conversation, I asked him a question.
"Are you afraid of death?" I asked.
He took a minute to answer, most likely caught off guard by the question.
"The one that is afraid of death isn't afraid of death itself, but is afraid of what comes after it". He responded, complacent with his response.
I unexpectedly got teary, and literally felt my heart break into two pieces. I'm still unsure to as of why. He switched the topic and begin rambling about how obnoxious I was as a child. When he noticed the pencil still in my hand and the empty sheet before me, he stopped.
"I'll leave you to your work. Thank you for talking to me. Now I will go and have some milk, pray and fall sound asleep, and you will finish your work. Twelve days will go by like this then I will head off to Pakistan and you will forget about me".
This caught me off gaurd. Is this what he thought I wanted? I never really seemed to notice him, always thinking about one thing or the other. It never occurred to me that maybe sometimes he too, wanted to talk to me but was shot down when he saw me get back tired from school.
"I'll never forget about you" I responded.
And that was a promise.