When I was going through a brief insomniac phase, my grandmother had told me to count backwards, from 100 to 1, and that by the time I would have gotten to 1, I’d fall asleep. And I always did. But this one specific night, I couldn’t and it was the night she was taken into surgery. I was drained and exhausted, both physically and mentally, but I could not get my body to rest. My grandmother’s old tricks had started to give up one me just like her health had on her and eventually, her odd counting habits consumed her vital signs which continually descended and finally stopped at 1.
I have inherited my father’s identical memory but that comes with a contingency which is that it is limited to random thoughts and events that have no significance in my recurring day-to-day life. I wanted to find a meaning of this; of why the only advice she ever chose to give me was on how to fall asleep. The night I was asked to see her for the last time before they declared the time of death, I counted from 100 to 1, hoping my mind would be clear of all thoughts and it would turn out to be a terrible dream but it did not. In hindsight, when I think about it, she passed on her resilience and her ability to detach from the world to me with her counting habits in a way she did not realise.
Just like the numbers, I too am fleeting from time, descending by each breath and whenever I’m in an unlikely situation, I count backwards and instantly my brain reciprocates by finding a way to get out of it. Only after years of doing it involuntarily, I learnt that it was my grandmother’s form of escapism from the reality, and at that point, I had no idea about the depth it held. The counting has taught me more than it should; it’s a constant reminder that I’m an infinitesimally small being in this huge galaxy and my problems are smaller than me. It has made more immune to the pain around me without desensitising me and maybe it is an over-analysis and a desperate measure to hold on to something of her that I can influence in my life but it makes sense in my head. The words she said that night with a disdain smile, I will hold them with me ignorantly.
It is probably the most selfish thing to wish to find purpose in somebody’s death but human beings are the most selfish people, they suffer silently and vehemently and ultimately leave but the responsibility of the weight of their pain is passed on to their kith and kin. I want the satisfaction of being influenced upon, so I can pass it on and hope my grand-daughter finds some depth in my foolish words whispered at midnight.