On a regular August morning, I lost my eighteen year old friend. It wasn’t a long-term ailment to trigger us into anticipating what was coming, at least in bits and pieces. It was an accident. At one instance he was in high spirits, dribbling his basketball, strumming his guitar and cracking his bizarre jokes. Next we know he had ceased to exist. It was abrupt and nobody was ready.
We have more than been made aware of the certainty of Death. We were born to perish. This reality is stacked somewhere in the corners of our minds though we rarely ever delve into it. It is not something we ponder over on a daily basis, on regular days, while having our morning cereal or running an errand. More devastating than the certainty of death is the uncertainty of its occurrence. Death is mischievous and erratic. It mocks at us while we make vain attempts to dodge it by being extra cautious. As it takes into its custody our loved ones in the most unjust ways, we, the ones left behind become nothing but helpless, immobilized onlookers, mindlessly wishing for it to be undone, wishing the pain to play down a little.
Death spools them away in its embrace to mysterious places. Where these cherished souls depart to is unbeknownst to all. I think the ignorance of what happens thereafter slyly assists us to cope. We attribute strange metaphors and theories with the loss. The ignorance moulds itself into all sorts of imagination because we want to believe that after the worst has happened, they have to suffer no longer. Call it oblivion or superstition. We convince ourselves that they are at peace and have moved on to a new blissful realm, that they have taken the form of stars flickering in the sky, that they have attained liberation and are watching over us or they are still with us, listening to us and protecting us as unseen spirits.
Despite denials and defense mechanisms, the pain takes over us anyway and we eventually let it devour us. We manifest it by clinging on closely to little messages, photographs, gifts and pieces of clothing, desperately trying to find a part of the lost one in all of them. As unreasonable as it may seem, I still text him, telling him about my day and asking him if he is happy.
But oddly enough, we make most of the mourning process about ourselves. We feel sorry for our own pain more than anything. We regret the things we could have said but didn’t, ugly arguments we could have prevented had we known it was the last straw. We hate how they are not there for us. We hate the conversations and jokes we would be missing out on. We crave for a specific familiarity that cannot be replaced.
Time repairs the disjointed order of things and accustoms us to the ache. Sooner or later, it becomes one with us as we train ourselves to grow immune to it. But sometimes, taking the pain for granted and thrusting it at the back of our minds is what we cannot come to terms with. The idea that the loss of such significant memories and feelings are rendered ordinary and we have to go on with our lives; working, partying, living, despite that, is peculiar in itself. It makes us doubt whether our love for them have changed.
But that’s how it works. The soreness gets at us occasionally, even later in life. We learn to filter the happy remembrances and recall them every now and then, like a nostalgic melody. There is no handbook to equip us to encounter loss or to get over it. It has its layers and shades. Some forms of grief heal; others become a part of you.
Written by Ananya Pattnaik
30 Days Challenge. Day 2.
“What seems to be the issue? Tell us where it hurts.”