Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Yesterday, in conversation with an old friend, I found out my professor from high school passed away a few months ago. None of us had kept in touch with our faculty after joining college, and we would probably not even have found out if not for a Facebook announcement from a family member. I feel like I don't exactly have a right to mourn this loss, but suffice it to say, it shook me, like any news of this sort would.
The pandemic and the consequent vaccination came up in another conversation a few days ago.
"Your grandparents must be getting it done?", a friend asked.
"No, no grandparents."
"Paternal, maternal; none?"
After a hesitant, uncomfortable pause that accompanies any mention of loss, the conversation moved on. Only, I didn't. It's been exactly two years since I have had to change my answer to none, and yet it chips away at my heart with every mention.
I remember my vacations from back when I was in school. Bags were packed and trains were booked well in advance, all ready to leave as soon as the last exam finished. The second we touched home, Dada would send for milk and snacks. "My grandkids are here, get those samosas hot and fresh! And two litres milk a day till they stay, nothing should fall short." Dadi would have the house spotless, fresh mattresses and sheets, the whole shebang. We'd gather around the table for lunches and have the family over for dinners. Like any other restless, ignorant child, I didn't fully recognise the beauty in the simplicity and intimacy of familial relationships. When I finally did, I didn't have any left.
They say I'm too young to understand life, and even younger to comprehend death. But, I have unfortunately had a lifetime's worth of trysts with the inevitable. I understand why it's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been had it never shone. I understand, that as beautiful as the sky may be, it is tragic; all it is, is a graveyard of stars.
See, the thing is, after all sense of bereavement and desolation, you have to find a way to see that some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the days long past, they belong to you. You have to find a way to convince yourself that death too, in its own time, can be blissful. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace. You have to see, that only in perish, lies true beauty; why else would we remain unmoved by artificial flowers?