“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
― Lemony Snicket
On this blog about 5 years back I shared my thoughts on the loss of loved ones in a post (here) and how it changes you for life . Death is a much talked about subject. There are theories, philosophies and sayings about it. Stories have been written on its cruel, impersonal and sudden nature. People have illustrated it in art ,literature and music. But none of this world wisdom prepares you to embrace death ...specially if you are not the one who is dying. Death is much more difficult for those who are left behind, alive – with memories, regrets, remains and legacy of the deceased.
I, like most others, want to avoid death of near dear ones indefinitely . While the rational mind reminds me of the impossibility of the thought, this is something where I want to remain stubbornly irrational. It is true that religion, rituals and philosophy provides temporary solace to the grieving, it is also equally true that nothing can take away the numbness ,the void and the scar death of a loved one can cause- more so if it is death of a parent . After all , it takes away your childhood from you forever. It means end of being called by some endearing nicknames, endless recounting of old childhood tales and an invisible cloak of protection above your head.
“Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,
—mothers and fathers don't die……
Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,
Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry..."
But this post is not about just death – it is also about the city . In a city where you know no one , where you don’t even remember the roads and names of places, death enters silently in your home and takes away a precious loved one. The grief and the suddenness hit you hard in any case but what hits harder is the fact that you are surrounded by strangers . The life in big cities is so fast and stressful that no one bothers to pause and participate in anybody else’s grief. The city life goes on not noticing that you are standing right there - grief stricken. The things continue to work with machinelike efficiency and while one would be appreciating such impersonal efficiency on other days ,it stirs you when you are looking for consolation, hand holding and a shoulder to cry on. Ever wonder why young people spend considerable time and effort to find place in the high pace life of metros and then at times like these long to be back in the familiar comfort of family and house.
So last month, for many many days I looked out of window staring at the Arabian sea changing colors , feeling lost and lonely...and thinking of the void my husband is going to have in his life after losing his father...hundreds of miles away from friends and family . As they say grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. And then one day you learn to swim.