Saturday, May 14, 2016


In a recent interview, Tom Hanks spoke of how he searched for a vocabulary for what was rattling around in his head as a teenager. This search and finding its expression is what took him from figuring out what was interesting in life to a yearning to be an artist. Without realizing it, I am beginning to see that the boys and I have been doing the same.
Throughout my life, my lexicon has helped me string words together to manifest thoughts and emotions. When at a loss for words, I have used art…a non-verbal means of bringing the inside to the outside. In the years since Shekhar, the semantics of my grief have translated into this blog, the wordless yearning to be an artist somewhat sublimated in its articulation. Then I started writing again. My adventure in writing romance has now got a fillip with the launch of my second romance novel, Perfect Landing.

Our older boy, who is an inspiration to us all, has used music as his vocabulary. His true musical journey began as a tribute to Shekhar and a means to process his grief. Over the past six years, he has built up a repository of compositions from his soul in lyrical poetry of both word and sound.

The biggest surprise has been our younger boy, who has found a sudden talent for rap! He brings fairy tales to life in witty rhymes. His father would have envied his clever use of language at the speed of thought.

Who would have thought that eventually all three of us would find refuge in words? Initially, they were just a means to express our differing grief. They have now taken a new meaning – our individual expression of the yearning to be an artist. In a way, it is our vocabulary of homage to our eudaemon, the one who gave us the reason. It makes me wonder if Shekhar had not left so soon…or whether he has at all.


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Jalaluddin Rumi


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Locked out of life

When I started this blog, I looked at it as a metamorphosis…a caterpillar in a cocoon of grief emerging at the end as a butterfly- vital and free. But where is the end? It is eight years today and here I am, tired of explaining myself.  Every time I think I have emerged on what should be the other side, I find myself back in a limbo of melancholy. As advised, I have let go of the sadness but it refuses to leave. Like gum stuck to a shoe, it persists and insists. Grief has shrunk my world into a tight prison from where the only view is through the fractured lens of pain and loss. It has locked me out of life…made me toxic to myself.
Soon after Shekhar died, the depression changed to anger. Anger, which was not characteristic to me, kept me going. I could not be angry with the man. He had no choice. So, I was angry with everything and everyone else. It helped me get a lot of things done that otherwise would have languished under my pacifist nature but it also made me difficult to be around. Then the anger dissipated replaced by an empty yearning for peace of mind. I went through the rituals of prayer, having lost my faith on that fateful night in April.
In And the flowers showered, Osho said, “Many things start happening around a dead man. If he loved a person very deeply, that means he had given a part of his life energy to that person, and when a person dies, immediately that part he had given to another person leaves that person and moves to the dead man…That’s why when a loved one dies you feel that something has left you also, something in you has died also. A deep wound, a deep gap will exist now.” I felt Shekhar leave that night while travelling in my neighbour’s car to the hospital. The wound is as deep as his love was for me. It has healed on the surface but the lingering sadness is a constant reminder of its depth.
Something changed at the beginning of this year…I started with a ritual but it awakened my faith, rebuilt a tenuous bridge of trust which had lain in a state of benign neglect. The force with which it has returned surprised me today as the boys and I marked the day in prayer. I look back and see that everything that has happened has unfolded as it was meant to, despite me. I have been witness to miracles and the beneficiary of his ministrations through instruments. Today, it dawned on me that as I walk in his light and grace, I have nothing to worry or be sad about – not the past, not the future. Everything is as it is meant to be. That is the gift of acceptance.
So, I am changing the metaphor. This is no longer a metamorphosis. There is no butterfly waiting to emerge. It is the phoenix. Reborn from the ashes…on a wing and a prayer.


The blood, the soil, the faith
These words you can't forget
Your vow, your holy place
O love, aren't you tired yet?
The blood, the soil, the faith
O love, aren't you tired yet?
A cross on every hill
A star, a minaret
So many graves to fill
O love, aren't you tired yet?

Leonard Cohen - The Faith

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Turning tears into wine

It is a recurring dream. Shekhar comes back. He’s happy, vital and full of beans, like he never left. He does not speak or explain his absence but I am overcome by an overwhelming need to account for myself during the time he was gone. I invariably wake from the dream with an inexplicable anger. How dare he? Then the anger turns inward, how and why dare I?

I began by counting minutes… then hours, days, weeks, months and now, it is years. At first, it was about how many days he had been gone. Now, it is about how many days I have survived…

When you marry young and your relationship is strong…it leads to integration, a growing together into one amorphous whole…then, when one is lost, it is not the death of the other but the death of the self as you know it. But you are not dead… just broken, numb and unaware. Fragments remain, you reassemble them like a puzzle with missing pieces…

It is not easy when you no longer look over your shoulder, seeking permission, approval and support from the other. This one is on you and you alone. Time accumulates. You don’t quite realise when it happened but you made yourself without the other and now you stand on your own – you wear the scars of your journey with a humble pride and dignified responsibility. It is like the Japanese art of kintsugi or golden repair, which treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. At some point in time, you understand that you have to stop picking on healing scars to make them wounds that bleed again and let the puzzle of your history shine in golden repair, missing pieces and all. That is what grief has done to me…every thing, every experience has become a metaphor for my journey.

The Headmaster at the boys’ school called me in soon after Shekhar passed away. He wanted to discuss how I would like the school administration, faculty and students to handle the bereavement. I had no clue. All I could do was sob. He was compassionate and sensitive as he spoke. Then he said something that has stayed with me ever since. He held out his open hand, “Now, there’s just the three of you. You are the family.” He closed his hand into a tight fist and showed it to me, “You have to be like this.” I walked out of his office, emotionally overwrought but somewhat reassured by the concrete message and direction. I could do that.

I had been allocated a driver and a car that first week. Bob was dignified and non-intrusive, a quiet and concerned presence. He let me cry unashamedly and watched over me as he drove me around the ruins of my world. As he helped me with unloading flowers for the funeral, he gently said, “After this, you should take the boys and go away for a holiday somewhere. Get away for a bit.” I looked at him as if he was insane to even suggest it although subconsciously that was exactly what I wanted to do…escape. I couldn’t do that.

It took three years for both messages to coalesce for me. I made a commitment then to take one holiday a year with the boys. Just the three of us…our family. Now, five such holidays later, I am truly grateful for the advice. They have been amazing and extremely bonding experiences and as the boys have grown, very rewarding too.

Travel brings its own insights. I realised that when I resisted the waves, the sea slapped me but when I let go, I rose and fell with each wave…softly cradled and carried. When we moved from one place to another, we stayed in rooms where others had stayed before us and yet others would come when we left. Someone else had slept in the same bed, had the same food, probably done the same things and had similar experiences…fellow travellers separated by time. For me, travel reiterated the message of transience, of impermanence…the fact that we were visitors not residents…

Before we dove to the depths of the sea for the first time on our most recent holiday, we were taught to ‘equalize’ the air pressure in our ears as we went deeper. To stop for a beat and prepare for the next step of the journey…In that silent space, all I could hear was my breathing. There was no thought, only presence. It made me realise that I could not be in two places in one moment…In that world below and in the one above it at the same time…It was not a staggering leap of logic…if I am grieving, I am not being…if I am being, I cannot grieve…It made me understand the message in the recurring dream…Shekhar does not want me to account for myself but to make my life count…

The year is new, as I ‘equalize,’ I am looking ahead and not over my shoulder. I do dare. Shekhar may have departed but I have arrived…for the time being.


It is a fierce heavy feeling, thinking something is expected of you but you don’t know what exactly it is.

Bob Dylan

Lie still, lie still, my breaking heart. My silent heart, lie still and break; Life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed…

Christina Rosetti

What if in your dream you went to Heaven, and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge