Grandfather died, and I'm happy is one of my first stories. I hope you'll enjoy it. It was originatly written in my native language and posted on my blog petramilasin.blog. After a long time I have finnaly decided to translate it into English and I hope I did a good job.
The hospital was like every other, cloaked in the grayness of despair and coldness of ceramic tiles that metal weals from old gurneys were rolling down on, and on some occasions, metal clattered. To a deaf individual, those sounds would probably bring out the tears of joy down the face, but to us who can compare this music to birdsong and childrens laughter, those sounds brought chills down our spine, the same spine that we rarely keep up straight in our health until sickness enables us to do it anyway. I was sitting in the hallway on an orange bench, which plastic has seen better days, and killing time by counting people who were passing by me, hoping never to see them again. I can not really say who horrified me the most, the ones with or without stethoscopes around their necks. I wasn't keen on sharing my time with either of them. I didn't want to humanize them. They were all strangers who didn't concern me. They didn't mind me, and I didn't mind them. I wanted to think about useful thinks. I wanted to use that situation to rearrange the facts and phrases in my mind for the upcoming business meeting. I wanted to go over the implementation of new processes in the monitoring of investment trends, but every time my concentration lasted long enough for my thoughts to go in a productive direction, my attention was stolen away from me by the exotic nurse. Her thin ankles represented the minimum amount of beauty needed to keep me in that harsh place. A half an hour had passed and I was still waiting patiently for someone to come and get me. I was just about to stand up and stretch when the door behind me opened and a white coat asked me inside.
"The only thing we can do now is ease his pains. Have you gotten all his affairs in order?" the doctor asked me sternly like we were talking about a business transaction and not about a man who beat me with his belt the first time he caught me with a cigarette. That medical person wasn't showing any compassion, and he wasn't acting or faking. He was doing his job effectively and quickly. To him, my grandfather was just a number, like all those people outside the door were to me. Just a number, meaningless and not much different from the rest he was going to treat later that day. I was also meaningless, just another person to ask the same questions and shake hands shallowly.
When I saw my grandfather lying there, he looked so small. He wasn't the man with a deep voice, strong posture, and firm disciplinary measures. In front of me was lying a shell from a once strong man, grey, shriveled and dappled with blue veins that were showing even where you wouldn't expect them. I am not sure he recognized me, but that didn't even matter. I was used to him confusing me with my father. I pulled up a chair next to his bed and sat carefully trying not to wake him. I wasn't expecting him to be able to talk. I just wanted to see him once again, properly do what was expected of me, visit him for the last time. Maybe I should have smiled when he opened his eyes and looked at me, but I just continued staring. I didn't want to give him any false hope that everything was going to be alright, but he obviously knew what was coming and he didn't seem sad or depressed at all. If by some way the tables had been turned, I would have been sobbing, clinging to sheets, screaming I didn't want to die, and he would have been comforting me, saying to me that everything will be ok, encouraging me to be brave. We were looking at each other for some time in silence, but who knows what he saw in front of himself.
"I am God." he said, his voice was husky and tired.
"It's the morphine grandpa," I tapped him gently on the knee, I think I even smiled a little.
"Jesus... Budha... Zeus..." he was coughing after every word "Why not Morphine, a name like any other."
"No grandpa, the drugs, it's because of... Never mind. Yes, your name is Morphine."
I was shocked and surprised when he sat up in his bed and stopped coughing. His voice cleared and brightness and serenity came to his face. Was it pretense or had they upped his meds so the burst of energy lifted the decrepit old men in the last energetic life moments? I didn't know how to react and what to say so with a total lack of imagination I asked the first cliche question that came to mind: "Are you afraid?"
"Of what?" he responded, "I will be born again before you will get the chance to leave the hospital." he laughed.
I knew the medicine was playing with his senile and damaged brain but I didn't want to oppose him. If that was going to be the last dialog he was to have, it wasn't going to be a fight. If it had to be, I wasn't going to be the one who would provoke it.
"What do you mean by born again? You never approved when grandma was going to church and now you mean to tell me you have been secretly practicing Hinduism?" I asked him
"Hin du what? What is that hindu?" he was baffled.
"Hinduism grandpa. Reincarnation. It is something people who live in India believe in."
"India is far away my son, and I don't know what that carnation of yours is."
If someone was listening to us, he would probably think that I was crazy because that conversation was starting to look like a grownup was trying to reason with the three-year-old who was talking about sand castles, and all the grownup wanted was for the child to eat his spinach.
"When I die, I will be born again" he continued his story "Not right away, but soon. I was born a lot of times already. I was everywhere. I was even in that India of yours. That's when I was a woman for the first time, and I was pretty as a picture. I had such great boobs, everybody was turning their heads."
"What did you have grandpa?!"
"B O O B S. Boobs! Stop acting up like you have never heard of boobs. Of course, I had boobs. I also had sons and daughters. Two of them died, but then I was born again."
"You've lost me there grandpa. Two of your children died and you were born again? Did you died after they did?"
"I died as my son and was born again, then I died as my daughter and was born again. Now I will die again. I'm not only one and I'm not only once. I am everyone and everywhen. I am talking to myself! I am talking to myself!" he started laughing and crying in the same time.
His amazing joy lasted for while, and I just stared at him. That conversation was getting stranger and weirder by the minute.
"I think the next time I will be born in a time with no wires and screens everywhere. Somewhere exciting, maybe around 1500. Isn't that around the time that Columbus fellow discovered India?"
I don't know what amused me more, the fact that my grandfather was mixing space and time dimensions or that he more or less accurately guessed the time America was discovered. Suddenly I didn't care about spreadsheets from work, I just wanted that conversation to go on for a bit more.
"Grandpa how do you plan to be born in 1500 when that's the past. You said you will be born before I leave the hospital, that's the future, it cant be 1500."
"You don't understand kid."
"Apparently not." I smiled
"Before, after, past and future, those are all made up things that exist now, but they didn't always. They don't exist anywhere except now." my grandpa obviously decided to become a philosopher in his old days.
I wasn't losing interest in him nor was I regretting my decision to come and visit him. We talked for a while and his words made less and less sense. It became difficult for me to listen and keep track of what he was saying. Maybe he felt my initial interest started to fade so he began talking slower and coughing more often, sliding back down to his bed, turning back to a dying man.
"Always greet yourself politely when you meet yourself on the street." those were the last words he said to me before he closed his eyes. I didnt think I would cry so much...
The funeral was simple and dignified without that awful brass band music that amplified the sadness which people had a great amount to start with. It was a warm and sunny day, so warm that sweat was running down my back. I was looking enviously at fancy ladies with their hand fans, desperately wanting a glass of water. I saw my little niece in the back running after a butterfly. My sister knew she would make a bigger scene calling her out so she just let her child play undisturbed. As I was watching that child play and run with no regard for heat or the dolefully ambient, grandpas words came to mind "I'm talking to myself." All of a sudden the rational part of me went off. I couldn't hear the priest or feel the sweet down my back. I was looking at my niece and saw myself. Connectedness, permanency, infinity, and indivisibility were resonating in my mind. As I was standing beside the coffin, I noticed that they had begun lowering it in the pit.
"Am I my own grandfather? Am I my niece? Am I cursing myself when I'm cursing my boss, do I praise myself when I praise my friend and do I make love to myself when I'm making love to my wife? Maybe I need morphine to understand, maybe nothing could help me reach the level of enlightenment my grandfather did or maybe I am surrounded by myself, looking at myself burying myself and listening to myself thinking about myself. Grandfather died, and I'm happy. How inappropriate, and how perfect."
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