Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In the final analysis...

छोटी बाते, छोटी, छोटी बातों की हैं यादे बड़ी...

When I was still a casement tunic-ed, long-plaited, school-girl, Bua, Papa’s only sister passed away during the festival of Diwali. I don’t remember if it was on the same day or before. A kind of silence fell over the household for the short while that my parents must have reminisced or planned things. Then, Papa asked me to come along to the market to buy some things.  Just as we were starting back, I saw my best friend with her cousins having ice creams standing in the colonnaded New Market, laughing and enjoying themselves. On seeing me, she called out cheerily and when I hesitated, Papa waved back to her equally cheerily. I was awkward. I rushed to tell her that my Bua had passed away. She tried to change her expression of merriment into something more appropriate. Just as we left, very gently, Papa said, “You needn't have told them. They were so happy.”

That Diwali evening, I was tentative. I had been so looking forward to wearing my new clothes, I still remember the soft, white muslin of the gypsy skirt, each of its layers lace-trimmed and the pink flower-print top. I don’t know how it was conveyed but it was conveyed to us that we could wear the new clothes and go out with friends, only, there would be no fire crackers or lighting at home. All evening I saw Papa receiving guests, accepting their wishes, wishing them back. I saw him sitting on that chair in the yellow light of the drawing room of a dark house with no Diwali diyas or fairy lights. Bua was his only sister. How he must have wrestled with his grief so it did not mar the joy of others. 

It was an invaluable lesson.

Why should we wear our sorrow like a veil that must not slip from our heads? It is two months since Mummy passed on. And I have not mourned her as the world would wish me to. Life has to go on. For her sake. For everything that made her happy, and proud. I have celebrated her in my own way. Keeping the kitchen fires burning, for one. Till two days before she went to hospital, Mummy was, as usual, animatedly discussing recipes, watching Food-Food as on a loop all day. I have made more pastas, pulaos, cakes and curries in the last two months than in two years. It has been therapeutic. 

We've remembered all the wonderful things she did and was and we’ve had haircuts, shopped, eaten out, watched movies, had people over, visited friends, facebooked, liked and lol-ed. I still reach out for the phone several times a day to call her. Mornings feel strange without her familiar voice on phone – everything from what was had for breakfast to what some friend wore or did not, was discussed (for mum clothes shopping came a close second, after cooking). My greatest champion, Mummy was always there for me as for all of us, in sickness and in our littlest accomplishments. 

Whenever the going gets tough, magically, a friend or relative calls or visits. They have us in their thoughts. Feels wonderful and I am grateful for this support. Yet why do I hold it against those that did not call/visit/ write? This, I still have to learn. Then I see Papa, squinting an eye and tilting his head in a ‘let it go’. I’ll try.


  1. Sumeet11:45 AM

    Your father was a wise man! When you lose someone close it leaves you numb, reality takes time to set, then you come to terms with the fact that you'll never be able to speak with them again. That's when you absorb yourself in many activities, but you need time to grieve. While you are grieving you may appear completely normal on the outside, but only you know the pain deep inside.
    Often people you know, whom you expected to hear from didn't call/visit/write, that's not because people don't care but most feel awkward in the situation. As your papa would have done 'let it go'

  2. Sumeet, you are right but just as each one of us must face grief and bereavement, we must also learn to get over this awkwardness and reach out in some way.

  3. Sumeet12:52 PM

    There was a guy in school who was my good friend, we payed together studied together. Both of us got selected in IIT, he in Comp. Sci. (the highest rated branch) me in a lower rated branch. Guy grew a big head, began to consider himself superior to me, never visited me expect on 2 occasions. Once one my sister died, other when my father. Though he reached out I still resent his behavior. Those couple of visits came across as a formality, though he visited but never reached out to me...

  4. Sumeet1:17 PM

    and "let go" of the 'shoulds', its a word which will always make you feel bad