Monday, September 21, 2009

Post Script...

A close friend recommended I watch a movie called 'P S I Love You' after Shekhar passed away. "Give it some time before you do because you might find it hard to watch right now," she had said. A few months ago, I serendipitously found a DVD of the film and bought it. I gave it a month or so before I watched it for the first time. I cried all through...then I watched it again yesterday, with subtitles, and cried again.

For those who haven't seen it, the film is about a young widow who receives posthumous letters from her husband through the first year after he dies from a brain tumour. It's a formulaic romantic comedy ending in true Hollywood style with hope, all loose ends tied up and an amazing emotional recovery. The story stops while the going is good with potential for a happily ever after. Unfortunately, real life isn't so easy.

It is 17 months now and frankly I am finding it harder now than I did in the immediate aftermath. It is because both you and the world are forgiving as you go through the upheaval of the first year, there's so much to deal with and get through. It is like the anaesthetic given to you during surgery. While you are under its influence, you just go through the befuddled motions, putting one step after another. Then the effect starts to wear off...Most stories and books on grief stop here or pick up several years later. I have yet to find one that tells you how to get through the second, and by far, the most difficult year when life continues its quotidian onslaught, the world expects recovery and you are only just figuring out that this is a permanent state of affairs, as hope of a miraculous return to life as before begins to fade...there is no escape, no rescue, no reprieve... the unanswered why still remains.

We experience such hubris when we are in a relationship. We are made visible by the other, by their touch, their words, their looking at us...bearing witness to our lives. We feel we belong, we have a haven where we are accepted, warts and all. We have someone in our corner, whom we can wake up at 2 a.m. with our fears, uncertainties and think it will last a lifetime and sometimes it does, till death do you part. Death did us part, Shekhar and I, and the hubris went with him. The thing about widowhood is, it is not a choice one makes. It happens and suddenly you are left alone and incomplete - one half of something that does not exist any more. Life continues, time elapses, grief persists... It is not a movie, it does not end, one does not get to take it out of the DVD player and put it back in its box...and there is no Post Script that says I Love You.


The odour from the flower is gone
Which like thy kisses breathed on me;
The colour from the flower is flown
Which glowed of thee and only thee!
A shrivelled, lifeless, vacant form,
it lies on my abandoned breast;
And mocks the heart, which is yet warm,
With cold and silent rest.
I weep--my tears revive it not;
I sigh--it breathes no more on me;
Its mute and uncomplaining lot
Is such as mine should be.

On a dead violet by P B Shelley


So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

From 'The tracks of my tears' by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I have become a prayer

I stopped believing in God the night Shekhar died. I didn't stop praying though. I prayed in the hope that the belief would return. That the faith with which I entrusted my hopes, dreams and wishes to the Unseen One, ever since I could remember, would find its way back to me. I do it involuntarily, like breathing.

One summer holiday, our Aunt came to spend time with us. I was nine. She was horrified that we made the sign of the cross while passing a Church and could recite the Lord's Prayer but not our own. She took it upon herself to rectify this glaring deficit in our character. My sisters and I spent what seemed like a very long, hot summer studying Gurmukhi and learning how to read the Granth Sahib. I am eternally grateful to her because when she left at the end of the season, I had realized prayer had a method, a technique, a power I hadn't experienced till then. I was never alone or afraid as long as I could pray.

Prayer has since got me through good and bad times, rough and smooth, ups and downs and in-betweens. I stopped asking for things in my prayers when I realized nothing I could ever imagine for myself could match what God had planned for me. Little did I know...

So now there is anger, recrimination and prayer. But a strange thing has happened since the night Shekhar went...I pray - in supplication, in surrender, in hope, in gratitude. I ask for help, I ask for strength, I ask for guidance, I ask for always. Only now I don't know if I'm praying to God or Shekhar...his name slips so easily off my lips. The human has mingled with the divine...God now has a face...


I sit in silent wonder at all I understand.
I am not actively praying.
I have become a prayer.