As I hit the seven year mark of Shekhar’s passing this year, I questioned why I write this blog at all. I had started with the intention of documenting my journey through grief. I even used the word metamorphosis in the tagline hoping for a dramatic transformation at what would be a tangible end at some point in time. I was aiming for a readership of one. Then there was the hope that as I journeyed through, if I could connect with even one fellow traveller through my words it would be a bond of the human condition in the knowledge that the pain is recognised and shared.
The primary intention is somewhat moot. Metamorphosis in humans is a slow and painful process and a life’s work. It might never be done. So, I considered whether I should continue or stop what some view as indulgent wallowing in grief even after seven years. I looked at the statistics of the readership and noticed with quiet amazement how they reflected the pervasiveness and universality of grief… and strangely enough, major events of war, disaster and political upheaval. The numbers documented a geography of pain. It has given me the impetus to continue…if even one other can see themselves in my words, this blog has achieved its aim.
It is easy to pontificate from the emotional distance created by time but anyone who has encountered the loss of a loved one knows that the pain is always near the surface, ready to jack-in-the-box on you in the most unexpected ways. It is like climbing a Sisyphean greasy pole, one revisit and you feel like you are back at the very beginning…again.
Grief can make one self-centred and oriented, unable to appreciate the journey, the erosive effect of time and all that has been accomplished in the absence of the one who defined your world and life. It engenders a sort of karmic bankruptcy where each thought, deed and action are rooted in lack. This to me is the hardest part of grieving…to be blessed by the grace, beauty and generosity of a higher power and yet only see what is missing…
I have accepted that I changed forever that fateful night in April 2008. My life became a three part series - before Shekhar, with Shekhar and after Shekhar. He defined and made me who I was…it has been a tremendous foundation to build upon, even in ruin. He remains embodied in the boys and embedded in my soul…it is said no man ever dies as long as his name is spoken…he lives in ways he could never have imagined and I could not have believed…
The beauty of survival and transformation, if you forgo the guilt and anger, is the emergence of a new sensibility…of the search for the wholeness of the self despite the missing piece. There is no point in waiting for the one who will never return, for a saviour, to be rescued…there is no cavalry. Just you…and the only way to go on is to make your journey to yourself – your complete self.
In Hindi, a comma is called alpviraam, a ‘short rest’ and a full stop, viraam, which translates to ‘rest.’ There could be no better metaphor for life after loss. Short rests to deal with the overwhelming exhaustion of grieving until the final rest. The spaces in between are open to new experiences, learning and becoming the person you were meant to be without the other. To quote Shakespeare in Hamlet and hark back to the destination of all our journeys, whichever path we may follow…the rest is silence.
“It was too perfect to last,' so I am tempted to say of our marriage. But it can be meant in two ways. It may be grimly pessimistic - as if God no sooner saw two of His creatures happy than He stopped it ('None of that here!'). As if He were like the Hostess at the sherry-party who separates two guests the moment they show signs of having got into a real conversation. But it could also mean 'This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged.' As if God said, 'Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed