Yesterday was a busy day for me. Therefore I could neither switch on TV, nor could log-on to twitter or even hear FM. I was out all day but did not hear the news even once. I came back home in the evening and switched on my white macbook around 9 pm, opened Tweetdeck and started reading the mentions sent to me. I read this -
@SomeBirdie Change your bio. :( #iSad
@SomeBirdie hi birdie hope u are fine plz change ur intro on with ur DP as Steve jobs now Rest In Peace and now he can't share Maggie with u.
A sudden thought ran across my mind and I checked the Trending Topics. I was right. He had left us. Steve Jobs had lost the battle against his cancer. Sad. I was sad. Very sad. I didn't know I would feel this bad for someone I hardly knew. I know I had read a lot about him recently when he stepped down as the CEO of Apple, still I never felt any connect. But today, when he has gone, I feel sad. So sad? Strange.
I was surprised by the pain I had in my heart. It was similar to what I had felt for my 'bubu' (Bubu is an old man in Pahadi language). He used to stay in our neighborhood when we were kids. I would have been in class 3 or 4 then. He was not married. He had no family. He stayed alone in a dark house with no furniture. He had a strong face and a lean body. He always smoked 'Bidi'. He was not educated. So I and my sister used to teach him to write his name on slate and floor with chalk. He used to get some lottery tickets for us to play 'Dukaan dukaan'. Those fresh bundles of lottery tickets of 20, 50, 100 and 1000 were our currency back then and we would please bubu by dancing and singing to get those. After growing up playing with him for 12 years, we shifted to a new town and left him behind. I was a kid then, so I don't remember crying a lot for him, but I do remember that he cried for us. A lot.
Days passed and we grew up. Distance grew and memories faded away. He did not have a mobile or a landline. So sometimes he would just call us from some shop and ask us how we were doing. This happened almost 2 times a month initially and became lesser and lesser month by month. Sometimes, when we returned from school, ma would tell us, "Bubu ka phone aaya tha. Tum log to the nahi.. Bechare.. Unki tabiyat theek nahi hai.. There is nobody to take care of him." I would feel bad but then forget it the next day.
Anyway, after I joined college, one day maa told me that 'Bubu' had passed away. Now, it had been ages that we had met him, the memories of childhood were also dim, but as I heard this sentence I felt a deep pain in my heart. It was an unexpected pain. His strong face, full of wrinkles and a firm smile ran across my mind. I could see him there. In his shrugs, and a bidi in hand saying.. "Chinu... aa ja mujhe mera naam likhna sikha de." I could see him in his dark house, sleeping alone. Coughing alone. Making tea for himself. Taking a bath in the open with the cold water. I could see his loneliness. I could feel his pain. Tears started rolling down my eyes. I had not even thought about him in all these years, apart from when he took the pain of calling from STD booths and other people's shops. How much he loved us. And we never bothered. I felt miserable. I felt blocked. I could not believe that our 'Bubu' is no more. I would never be able to see him again, hear him again. I was standing there. Still.
I have tears in my eyes as I write this. My neck is full of that strange pain I felt when I heard of his death. And when I read about Steve last night, I felt a similar pain. Now I have no idea why I felt that but I did. Though I know the difference, the pain has washed off for Steve now. I know when I'll hear about him, I won't cry. I won't feel a sudden strike of bolt in my heart that I feel for bubu, even today.
The regret would always remain in my heart that I could have done something for Bubu, to make his life better, but I didn't. I don't have a single picture of his. That's how it goes. We never value people when they are with us and regret not doing anything after they leave us. Yes I know its a cliche but it is one truth that manages to survive even after we all read it so many times. We ignore it by calling it a cliche. What an irony.
The world will miss you Steve, I miss you Bubu...