Unexpectedly, dad never parted from him. He has that subtle nature where you have heaps of difficulties understanding him, but Lala uncle was a precise man and to my amazement, he got along so well with my short tempered and aggravated father.
My mom had massive blows with him every once in a while but Lala uncle was like a distant river, he flowed so leisurely it was hard to guess if he was moving or not. Merely because of that, my dad tend to stick with him and argued, but Lala uncle just stood there smiling taciturningly.
Sometimes brother joked about Lala uncle marrying dad as they got along so well. I wouldn't mind much about it as who objects to such a tender fun lover, besides after his presence I was positive that we won't ever have to hear clamorous voices every once in a week.
Generally, I deemed that dad was too brusque and churlish with him. Usually, he heated up when it came to even the slightest business issues, but Lala uncle used to stand beside him reticently and when dad would be done, he'd always pour him a cup of cold water to which dad always refused discourteously. Then Lala uncle used to start with his perspective and with the pace, dad would begin to understand and gulp down the water.
Even with all the uncivil ups and downs of my father's demeanor, Lala uncle stuck with him since I remembered. They had nourished under the same sky, encrusted in the same mud, had scraped their knees from the same brambles and feeded off the same apple trees.
Merely because of these reasons Lala understood dad too well and proved to be the only childhood friend who stuck with him even after his cantankerous ways.
After I returned from school and entered the dining room, I heard Lala uncle playing harmonium and singing along. He loved to sing and maybe that's why he was called Lala. Dad often grunted when I used to hear loud music but he was always merry when it came to only Lala uncle singing. He always adored his vocals and could have him sing the entire day.
I waved at him, seating at the wooden table as he smiled through his warbling. I could sense mom swinging and humming around in the kitchen as she stirred the masses of coloured pots and pans on the stove.
After Lala uncle was done, both of them joined us on the table. We started eating the food quietly. Almost like always, dad's phone gave an abrupt jolt. He picked it up and took a side. Soon enough, he was raging on the phone. After a heated argument for ten minutes, he tossed the phone away and made his way back.
"What's wrong?" Lala uncle asked as dad swiped his rubicund face."Don't you ask me what's wrong. How did our trucks got smuggled? YOU were supervising them. Do you even have an idea how much of a loss it is?" Dad hollered, banging his fist on the table as the water in my peg leaped up and spilled on my lap.
"Calm down! I have no idea what happened. Why would I have our goods smuggled myself?" Lala uncle got up, pushing his seat abruptly, and placing a warm hand on dad's shoulder. "So that you could have it all for yourself! WHO else could do it? The transport was all under your observation", he continued ululating, as a deep crease etched on his forehead, depicting worry for the loss.
As his lips delivered those unjust ruthless words, I hinted a gleam in Lala uncle's eyes. I'm not sure if was angry, but I was sure he was immensely hurt.
Nevertheless, Lala uncle stood placidly, stretching his arm toward the jug of water. Dad grabbed the jug and smashed it on the floor. That's when my mom and brother got up. "Stop blaming him please" mom tried to make him sit. He shoved her out of the way. "You are responsible for the massive loss our business suffered from. You broke my trust. Now get out of here. It all ends", dad shoved a finger in his chest.
Lala uncle stood there for a few brusque minutes. Dad was too incensed and raged to stay so he exited the room, my exasperated and dismal mom and brother following him. I was 14 at that time, and first time in my life I saw two teardrops escaping from the edges of Lala uncle's wrinkly eyes. He always smile. It felt as if Lala uncle was smiling even with the indingnant tears resting on his cheeks.
Without my expectation, he started shaking terribly and his throat let out muffled cries. I bent forward and clasped his tremulous hand. That was the last time I touched his gentle skin. "I'd see you again right?" I looked up at him.
"When clouds couldnt bear their tears, they tend to rain. And, it rained upon me. Trust is what friendship holds, he thought I broke it. I never knew all along he never trusted me in the first place. Guess that's the last of me you'll see. I'm sorry Lara" he bent down and placed his palm on my wet cheek, "I know. I'll miss you too". He nodded knowingly and left.
It was a big loss. We had to go through some financial issues as dad ended his partnership with Lala uncle and we moved in another city. After a year or so, he gained some wealth and set up a small business. But we never gained back our Lala uncle, that friendship which was exemplary.
Dad never thought about contacting him again. At times I brought up the subject, he'd either ignore me or started lighting a cigar. Sometimes, he'd just puff till midnight. But I never made out if he missed him, regretted at his doings or was still furious at him.
Time is like a tree. It gives you fruit once, but never gives you the same one twice. We don't know if next time, it would be bitter or sweet. So it passed away silently, like an unobtrusive passer by which I never noticed. Dad got all wrinkly by age, but he lost his self. Lost what he used to be. He wasn't an aggravated angry man. He was hushed and remained silent at all times.
Those days, he started falling ill every now and then. One wet night, he passed away just as silently as the dark.
We had him buried in the graveyard where we used to live before we left that city. We decided to stay for a week or so as mom wanted to meet her old acquaintances for we had finally visited the city after all those years. One night, she accompanied her old friend to a dinner in a cafe where we always ate with Lala uncle. I would have gone along with her but instead decided to walk the streets and pay a visit to the graveyard.
When brother and mom left, I wrapped a burberry shawl across my stiff shoulders. It was a strong feeling of nostalgia with an incense of depression that struck me as I stepped out. Walking under the street lamps, stepping on my shadow, I observed the changes that had occured around. Everything had modernized ofcourse, but I was still familiar with every nook. As I recollected all the coloured memories of the past, I realized soon enough that all of them had Lala uncle standing there, but just left serenly in the background.
I gulped down the lump in my shrivelled throat and stopped fighting back the tears that brimmed. "When clouds couldn't bear their tears, they tend to rain". It made me weep harder as I scratched those words under a tree on the mud, with a stick.
The streets were now all deserted. In my time, they were always lit with giggles and strikes of wooden bats and tennis balls that bounced off the crumbly roads. There was no one except me at that time though.
I shuddered and continued down the path till I reached the creaky gate of the graveyard.
I gave a look inside and didn't want to enter in. That night, I was upset at dad as I missed Lala uncle and as I recalled the unjust behaviour of my father. He was stubborn enough to die with a heavy heart than to ask for Lala uncle's forgiveness.
Just when I began to turn away, my ears caught a familiar rhythm. It parted through the wind, and flew toward me. That mere music, it feted me to step in. Like a hungry bee attracted to a flower, I stumbled nearer and nearer, thoughtlessly.
Nearer and nearer, unthinkingly. Nearer and nearer, till it started soothing me.
His balded head shone in the lamp light. His face was shadowed but I could always see his smile in the dark. The way his old fingers caressed the harmonium's keys, it depicted a whole lot of intimacy. And the music portrayed some lost feelings. Feelings of intense dearth and affection. I was glad to know Lala uncle had forgiven dad nevertheless. I passed him a smile and a curt wave from where I stood, almost 20 inches apart. He was altruistic enough to play for my dad. "It's kind of creepy to play in darkness inside a graveyard Lala uncle" I told him smilingly, crossing my arms across my chest.
"When clouds couldn't bear their tears, they tend to rain", he laughed through the music, "I've been craving to play for him again, only I couldn't see the look on his face now. Though, Im sure he's happy as a child". I stood there thinking,
True friendship, it just gets stronger and it never dies. It's an ever green feeling of affection. When not true, it starts to rust, but it stays. He died, but it stayed within them all along, all those years.