Friday, June 25, 2010

Good Mourning...Goodbye

A year after he fled the world, Michael Jackson was more alive than ever in all the news channels today. Sad to see that even after his death, controversy is still his companion. A piece about how his dad Joe Jackson flourished in the days after his famous meal-ticket son’s death and seemed not to be in mourning made me think - Is there a stringent way to mourn? Is there a “Mourning for Dummies” which tells you how to react to a passing?

My maternal grandfather passed away the year I finished school. The Gulf war, a few years back, had given him a weak heart and age wasn’t on his side either. When we came to know that he was very sick, my mum and dad rushed about trying to get to India as fast as possible. I was more upset at leaving Riyadh for good than anything else…I don’t know if it was selfish of me, but I guess the enormity of the situation didn’t sink in…till I walked into the hospital room. There on the bed lay a shadow of the man I called Achicha (grandfather)…the person whom I had always only seen in starched kurtas and perfectly ironed mundu (dhoti) lay covered to his waist in a ghastly hospital sheet. This person had been my friend during my vacations…my walking buddy come rain or shine…the person whom I loved to fight with…the neat freak who lovingly let me eat from his plate even though it was something he hated…the supposedly “angry man” who put up with all my idiosyncrasies…just lay there in bed watching as my mum sat beside him and wept.

My grand-dad passed away a few days afterwards. When they brought his body home in the dead of the night, there was no electricity due to heavy rains. The moment his body entered the threshold of the house he had so lovingly built, all the lights came on in a flash, then there was flash of lightning and deafening thunder and then blinding darkness again. To me it felt like the Nature was giving him an honorary 21 gun salute. I dutifully sat beside his body and watched as people who knew him from different walks of life came to pay their last respects – yet I sat there unmoved. My attention remained fixed on his face. There was a calm beautiful smile on his face – it seemed he was laughing at some private joke and I remember wondering what it could be. Everyone seemed to want to comfort me, but I felt nothing…I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t feel any sadness either. I am not sure if anyone thought it was odd that I looked so indifferent, so uncaring, and totally devoid of any emotion…but I didn’t shed a tear. Just didn’t feel like it. He was laid to rest in the compound of the ancestral house facing his room. Whenever I saw mum and granny crying I wondered why I didn’t feel this grief and wondered if I was such a heartless creature. I would dream about him every night, about all the little things we did together and always got up happy and again that emotion confused me. I don’t think I want to justify this behavior by thinking that I was detached or in shock or something. I felt fully in control and I wasn’t fighting back tears and trying to be brave either. A week later a few of us we were sitting in my grandfather’s room talking. My mum’s cousin lay on her lap and reminiscing about my mum’s marriage and how much he wanted to go see her get married, but everyone was against it as he was very naughty and how my grandfather had ignored everyone and taken him along and given him sweets and stuff … somewhere along the way both of them began to cry and that was it. I felt like a hand was squeezing my throat, choking me. I got up and ran as fast as I could and ended up in a little corridor of the house before the tears overtook me. I cried and cried like I had never cried before….cried for everything my granddad was to me, how I would never get to tell him how much he meant to me, how much he would be missed, how I would have loved to hold his hand and gone on one last walk with him…how I would have liked to have one last fight with him…how I would never see him smile his dazzling smile at me again. It took me a few years to realize that I probably didn’t express my grief the conventional way because I probably didn’t even feel he was gone – I was living with him in my dreams and the sense of loss took longer to sink in.
From that day on every time I hear people gossip about so and so who didn’t cry at a loved one’s passing, I wonder – Who are they to judge someone’s grief? Should we mourn to please society or because the nature of the loss is so strong that you feel the need to express that pain - IN YOUR OWN WAY?

Note: Sorry this is such a long post…got a bit carried away and no amount of editing had the power to shrink it. And sorry about the un-original title...

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – Anon



22 comments:

Anonymous said...

very well written.. I have to date not cried since my Paternal Grandmother (Dadi) passed away.. but that doesnt mean I am not sad that she passed away.. I never cried when my Maternal Grandfather (Nana) passed away, and they both were very very very dear to me.. I still talk of my Dadi.. and often find myself saying things like.. "my dadi used to ... See Moresay..", "my dadi would have loved this invention"... but u are right.. i strongly feel that she never left.. she is always with me... we were very close... we still are! - Shaista

Anonymous said...

ps. I dont believe in conventional mourning at all! - Shaista

Laxmi Gopa said...

Neither do I and it irritates me whn ppl pass comments...how dare they!

Anonymous said...

loved it!!Eagerly waiting for the next!!- Andleeb

Anonymous said...

lak.. you have an amazing gift of conveying emotions thru your words.. reading your blog is becoming my fav. pastime while takin a break from the craziness of this world. Plus it goes great with my rasberry tea :P
Like Leeb said.. keep em coming soldier.
- Nazia

Anonymous said...

Laxmi, Very touching.... Well written.... Shyla

Laxmi Gopa said...

Thank you Shyla aunty...coming from ex-teachers means a lot.

Anonymous said...

Wow Laxmi...very well written...good read indeed...Isn't that true!! in every society, people expect you to showcase the typical behaviour if not you are crucified for it. - Tara

Anonymous said...

lallu chechy... read all ur blogs today.....they r really really good chechy ... looking forward to read more from u...keep posting ...:) - Chinchoo

Anonymous said...

yes lakshmi, i agree with you, mankind is not perfect,yet !!! they think ...they are perfect when judging other people....
- Bincy Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

So well written and I totally agree... Thanks for sharing! I look forward to more... - Maryam Shaukat Hameed

The Ketchup Girl said...

it resonates with me..this post. we were holidaying in orange county, coorg when grandpa passed away. i felt miserable, but i just couldn't cry. you've expressed a very difficult emotion, with such ease, laxmi!

Anonymous said...

Tangy : A brilliant emotion filled post by Laxmi. Laxmi, all we have to say after reading your post is that different persons have different emotions and you need to live with your way. We loved your post and are sure that the community would do so too. - Blogadda

Vibhuti B said...

LG I could not agree with you more! The loss of a loved one is only grieved the most within the sanctity of our hearts..What Ppl display without is more for the society's sake I believe..The deceased and my relation would be best known to me..How much he or sh emeant to me..Why do you need to justify your feelings by forcing those tears?
Every bit of your post is truly penned and I could relate to your turmoil very well..
When My Pa-In_law passed away I was with my baby and hence couldn't be there at his funeral..
People talked and made a hoolabaloo over my absence..Till dat eI cant forgive them!
I and only I know how much he meant to me and how mch I miss him!
:(

Hayaah said...

This is such a heart wrenching post Lax... you've caught everything and then some in just the right amount and expression...

So sorry for the family's loss.

I think the title was totally apt, having read the post. Ive thought about this in the recent past as well, when Ive been really angered on hearing my dad and some other people comment over a family friend's reaction A MONTH LATER to his mother's demise (she had been sick over a period of time too before her passing). While they tch tch-ed away, and pooh paah-ed it all, I silently seethed over the callousness of mankind, in being OH so judgmental of someone elses PERSONAL life... that they had to dictate WHEN someone should let go, and for how long they should mourn and precisely how.

Sad.

Thanx for sharing this...

Laxmi Gopa said...

@Vibhuti - I know what you mean, because my mum went through what you did. When my mum's FIL (my dad's dad) passed away, she was in a hospital, bedridden from a slipped disc. I was about 4 and we were far away from all our relatives. So only my dad was there to take care of me and my mum. So neither my mum and dad could go for the funeral. Till date- almost 27yrs later - some ppl in my dad's fmly still talk about it...and it still upsets my mum because she loved her FIL and felt he was the only person in my dad's family who treated her well.

Laxmi Gopa said...

@Vibhuti - Thanks for visiting my blog...and taking the time to comment.

Laxmi Gopa said...

@Shaeema - its easy to judge people, if they do something diff from what we do. Sometimes hidden emotions are ignored; because if you don't show it, you don't have it is the norm in today's world. Sad, but true.

Thanks for taking the time to comment...I sometimes still feel odd at my lack of emotion towards certain events, because I guess society wants me to react in a certain way and I can't act that way.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

So well written Laxmi. From the heart and so wise too....Yes, everyone should be given the right to express emotions in their own way. I'm coming back here for me.

Laxmi Gopa said...

@Corinne - Thank you for subscribing.Am so glad to see that this post touched a chord with so many.

Freak's paradise said...

Nice post...

Laxmi Gopa said...

Thanks FP. Glad you liked it.

Being a mummy

Full time Mummy!!