You can stay together, but live apart.
She eliminated that.
You can stay apart, but be together.
She accomplished this.
One more day to survive. One more night of staying apart.
There is a strange, surreal, almost eerie, stillness that has suddenly seeped into our life, the one common life that five of us share now. We move about, we talk to other people, we try to concentrate on our work at home or in office, we eat, we bathe, we brush our teeth…everything seems to be going normally. But it is not. It is a façade, a common mask that we simultaneously wear, a mask behind which we hide the raging maelstrom inside.
A mask that is not very effective.
When people look back at their own lives, when they self-retrospect, sometimes they divide their lives into segments, periods of time, marked by personal milestones. ‘Pre-college’ and ‘post-college’. ‘Pre-marriage’ and ‘post-marriage’. ‘Until I met ABC or did xyz’ and ‘after I met ABC or did xyz’. Until now, I used to categorize my own life under two such headers, ‘until the end of school’ and ‘college-onwards’. But for the five of us—Baba, Maa, Mamma, Kiara, and me—the life that we share, the one life that we have been sharing since 16th January 2012, is divided into two parts, “pre-Kuttush” and “Kuttush-onwards”.
Which would have been a good thing, but for the one additional rider: there is a virus that has attached itself to the second phase, a monstrous virus that has rapidly expanded itself to form a third, additional segment of our life and will not be removed.
It is as if an intruder invaded your home, your privacy, and took away forcibly, or maybe sneakily, something of immense value to you, when you were not looking, or maybe you were but you were caught unawares and was unable to do anything. It is only after he left, slamming the door behind him, that you realized what you lost in a matter of a few minutes or a few seconds only.
It takes a few moments to register what you just saw. Or heard. What you just lost. Forever. The brain has already registered what the heart refuses to acknowledge, but will be forced to. For a while, your mind is in the throes of a strange frenzy. It blacks out everything around you. The shock is physical. The numbness slams into you with brute force.
Within a span of barely a few minutes, your entire universe has shrunk into one little, white, furry body that lies lifeless in your arms.
The one moment you thought would never come, and took that thought for granted, has come and taken away the very essence of your being, leaving with you the little white shell that housed the twin to your soul.
But god is supposed to be great, right? Isn’t he also supposed to be good and merciful and caring and kind?
You question, not without reason, not entirely consciously, the concept of the so-called greatness or goodness or mercifulness of this vague, ambiguous, obscure entity called god, even as your mind struggles to cope with the harsh reality that rushes at you with the speed and force of a Mack truck. There is a replica of the original standing next to you. Where you are shattered, the replica is mystified. As you cry, it nudges you, nudges its original, seeking an answer to what is happening, but does not get one. It keeps moving around the two of you, keeps nudging the two of you, letting out low, mournful yelps.
The original, for the first time since the replica has been around, refuses to answer. Or respond. Or look up. You are still crying.
You realize that the age of miracles is long gone. You take in the fact that killers cannot be gods. For the first time in your life, as your world comes to a shuddering, shattering halt, you realize that the so-called “goodness” of so-called “gods” is a cruel, cruel, cruel myth.
The tears keep flowing. Irrespective of whether we try to control ourselves or let go, they keep coming, as if they have a life of their own, white-hot lava rising from some deep cavern inside, liquid fire that burns our eyes, throats, hearts, souls, reminding us of our irredeemable, irrevocable, abject loss, without realizing—or perhaps despite realizing, but nevertheless making a mockery of our helplessness, hopelessness, powerlessness—that we do not need to be reminded. The very fact that we, the rest of us, live on is a reminder painful enough.
It’s a vicious cycle: the more you cry, the more you hurt. The more you hurt, the more you cry. And you don’t know how to stop the cycle. You don’t control it.
I wish the tears would stop. I wish the pain would subside.
I want the tears to flow. I pray the pain never stops.
It is decidedly safer to be positioned away from the direct line of fire. You get hit, yes, but the bullets that hit you are the ones that have penetrated, perforated, the front-liners first and lost a little punch. The blood pooling around you is less your own and more that of the front-liners, who took the direct hits.
I think I am lucky that I am away from home; I did not have to witness first-hand the passing away of a family-member, a sibling, right in front of my eyes. After all, I am not my Father; I cannot absorb grief, sorrow, pain, sadness, the way he does, like a sponge. Baba was unlucky to see a child of his own, borne not of his flesh and blood but of his heartstrings and his love, pass away before him.
Or was he?
In life or in death, we are happiest when we are in the company of our loved ones, surrounded by those dearest to our hearts. The moment when Kuttush left, she had Baba’s lap to rest her head on as her mortal body breathed its last. Baba at least had the consolation of holding her hand. His tears on her forehead soothed her own pain, the pain that she experienced in having to leave him behind.
What did I have? Solace in knowing that I am 2,200 kilometers away from the direct line of fire? What good is that?
The other realm, the “great beyond”, is not really that “great” if you are not in the company of your nearest and dearest. Is the company of god more preferable to the company of your parents, your siblings, your child? I think not.
Togetherness is not limited to physical co-existence. Two people may not live side-by-side, but they can continue to be together, in each other’s hearts, in a unique, death-defying, god-defying way.
The Daughter lives on with her Family, in their midst and in their hearts.
Love that reaches out across worlds is something that not even god and his sole weapon death can overcome.