The guilt that I could not travel to see my father for one last time is here to stay with me forever. Baba was showing positive signs of recovery and even the doctors said his body is responding well. He was optimistic and did everything to get back on his feet. He also started walking, slowly with support and we were all cheering him for his efforts. None of us ever thought anything all of a sudden would happen.
When we lost him, there was nothing that we could think of and frantically checked all possibilities to travel to India. Covid was at its peak, there was a travel ban imposed and only emergency cases could cross the border. We tried other means too, that would require sixty hours of travel but we ruled out that option as that would be too risky for the kids. We also checked the possibility that I could travel alone but there was no assurance to return. The local news was loaded with incidents where families were separated, mothers were separated from their kids and were not allowed to enter the country due to the strict rules.
Everything happening around me was scary, my daughter was very small, and she needed me more. What if I was not allowed to come back, what if I caught covid while travelling, what if I died, all these thoughts kept piercing me one after the other and I couldn’t decide what to do.
My family back there understood my situation and strictly asked me to stay back. Even if I travelled, due to quarantine rules, I wouldn’t be allowed to visit home immediately after I land. The rituals and everything would be done already. They didn’t want me to take the risk of travelling alone during a pandemic.
I felt strangled but I had to stay back, I couldn’t travel, I couldn’t bid the last goodbye to baba. I kept asking baba, why did he go away, why did he not wait for me, why didn’t he allow me to come, was he angry, was he unhappy, did I do something wrong? The guilt kept mounting, the tears kept disobeying and the brain stopped working. I was not in my senses, I started forgetting things, dropping things, losing things, crying all the time, stopped talking to anyone, felt dizzy and had a headache that wouldn’t stop even with medicines. The guilt was then mixed with grief and now and then I would panic that baba is no more. That continued for months.
Grief is normal. It may take months or years to come to terms with a loss. One shouldn’t push someone to get back to routine life. People recover on their own and grieving allows them to embrace the memories of their loved ones. It’s a human tendency to take out a person from grief as quickly as possible but trust me, people don’t come out of grief, they start pretending everything is fine. Grief stays with you forever and why not? By expecting them to behave as if nothing happened and death is natural, you make things more difficult for them.
I lost my father during the festive season when everybody around was joyful. My well-wishers tried to push me into the celebrations, thinking that will make me feel better. It was almost Diwali and I started getting suggestions to make rangoli, and light lamps because that way I can keep myself busy and my mind diverted. My husband started getting suggestions that I look depressed so he should take me out to some nice place to make me happy. I was fed up with the concerns and so I went out, dressed beautifully, took some lovely pictures and shared them with everyone. That worked! People were happy with the pictures and I was happy to be left alone. Only a handful of people, who know me well and I am grateful to have them in my life, said, ‘take your time.’
This piece of poetry came out as a result of that phase of life –
“मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है”
क्यूँ उदास हूँ समझना मुश्किल है, ‘मैं ठीक हूँ’ ये जताना मुश्किल है,
सबसे छुप कर रोने से, मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है
कुछ ना करो तो चिंतित होते है, करो तो आश्चर्य से देखते है,
सवालों के जवाब देने से, मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है
वक्त आने पे सबको जाना है, जाने से तुम्हें रुक जाना नहीं है,
इन व्यर्थ की बातों को मान लेने से, मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है
जाने कैसे सब कुछ कर रही हूँ, शायद मन को ही बहला रही हूँ,
खुद को समझ पाने से, मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है
सूर्य को डूबते देखा है जबसे, इन लहरों में बस बह रही,
तैरने की इछा त्याग दो तो, मुस्कुराना आसान लगता है
Coming up next –
H – Home sweet home
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