Dear Ritesh and Mitesh,
I was slated to die by end of the month. That was in August 1996. The fact that you are reading it now, means that such diagnoses, to quote Mark Twain, were highly exaggerated. However, recently, my 'good spirits' have been waning. By now, I am dead and hopefully you have given me a fit farewell. I had instructed Raj to hand over my last letter to you fourteen days after my funeral. I hope he, in his usual style, wasn't late!
I must say at the outset that you two have made me proud on many counts. I haven't been very vocal about this and you might have well imagined that I am disappointed by the way your life has turned out. That is not so, on many counts.
While I was lucky to be born into a rich family and became quite successful, you outdid me by some margin when it came to living the high life. The obligatory Mercedes, the yearly trips to London, the farmhouses. It was all laid out. While I have asked a few questions on these in the last few years, you must not worry. Such displays are neither new nor revolting. After all, isn't your marriage talked about in Allahabad even now? However, what did surprise me was the eagerness for our old house which you two have exhibited recently.
Besides your riches and your fame, I have also been proud of the fact that you have raised five really wonderful grandchildren for me. They are independent and fair, qualities which I look for in people. Yes, one of them did display a rebellious streak as well, but you were quick to prevent independence from turning into rebellion. Much to quick, in my opinion, considering how firebrand we have been and I still am! I would have stopped you if I could have, but then there is a line when my my family ends and your starts. It is your call.
I would have done differently, though. I am just sad that you have given up on logic for what you call beliefs. Ritesh, if my daughter had decided not to get married the Hindu way but by reading poetry to her love, I would have been okay (though it would have been corny, like that film whose name I don't remember). In fact, your steadfast refusal surprised me. I remember you first tried to blame your wife's family but failed. Then you got Mitesh to support you. Poor Divya, even she couldn't stand up to Chote Kaka's advice.
In fact this incident was the proverbial last straw which broke my back. You call it a reason to live. I would refrain from calling it anything, now that I am away. I remember your youth when you had become card-carrying members. Comrade you used to call me. I hated it. For me, the centre was where I wanted to stay. Not for me reactionary activities and dreams instead of policies. We used to stay up all night debating this. Yet, I was happy that you had found your cause. I hoped that with age, some logic will find its way into the cause. When I told you that I could not imagine that both of you will take up religion.
You said that this was your reason to live. That you couldn't take the death of your youngest. I protested. You compared the belief to my belief in Darwin. Which was quite funny as I didn't ever feel the need to believe something which I could explain. I made you carry out all those smoky rituals outside my house. Now, I will forever hold my quiet. Plus, you could take the house and do whatever you want there. I have one last wish though. You see, this particular will (which you will get soon from Raj) gives away all my property to a couple of trusts. It is a large amount of wealth for them so they will not spend it all at once. Instead, they will get only a minor part of the wealth and the rest as income on an annual basis. However, I am happy to come back, remake my will and give it to you. Can you please ask your God to bring me back to life once for a few minutes as my last wish? Just ask God to conduct a minor miracle.
I am hoping this will not be a huge inconvenience. You will continue to be in my thoughts, if what you believe is true.