Wednesday, March 24, 2010


When RM lost his mother he howled like a child over phone. I was “pleasantly” surprised as I could never associate crying with men folk. The patriarchs of my family are generally the undemonstrative kinds reticent in their grief and super dignified n composure under bereavement. The ethos of my family ethics is never to show any weakness in public especially tears. Breaking down or talking about one’s woes is simply something which can at best be done behind the closed doors of the bathroom with one’s “ownsome lonesome” self with the tap opened in full force. Being the product with such familial traits I have a natural (genetic?) tendency to recede into a shell when I find myself in the “anguished” mode.

It was therefore a novel experience for me when RM spoke to me at length about his mother, how kind and affectionate she was, the large number of people who came to pay their condolences (half of whom he did not even know) on hearing about her demise, the incidents of her kindness and affection that they recounted which made him proud of his parentage and at the same time remorseful and repentant that he could not spend some more time with her when she was alive, the stray moments when he had been a little impatient with her, the last hours when he incessantly chanted prayers for peaceful departure of her soul. He said he was sure his mother must have found space at the feet of Lord Krishna (RM is a staunch Vaishnavite now). He was glad too that during her last hours she was surrounded by all whom she loved dearly and who loved her dearly in return.

The usual thoughts which give solace to a grief stricken soul. But how important these thoughts are! How important it is to vent out your feelings of guilt, pain and pathos. How important it is to emote and express and accept the irreparable loss one has experienced even if it is to a chance acquaintance.

I was surprised at myself too. Generally, I am completely at a loss for words on such occasions. What to say to ameliorate such unbearable pain and isolation that passing away of a near and dear one cause? But here I was soothing him, consoling him, saying the right words which flew out as though an experienced adult was speaking to a child. We spoke for fifteen minutes, nay, exchanged grief for a quarter of an hour, at the end of which he said he felt relieved and unburdened. He cried unabashedly and confessed he felt better after the outburst; he said he felt nice talking to a person with whom he had had a long association (truth is I can count on my finger tip the number of times we have even nodded a “hullo” to each other) and shared lunch (extremely infrequently).

I was touched that he could relate to me at a time like this. In our family grief means presenting a stolid façade and pretending that everything is perfectly normal. While talking to RM I realized that it is extremely important to accept and embrace grief and loss; it helps one to get over the chasm more easily. Nurturing pain does not help and the “getting over” process becomes more painful and takes a lifetime. Though habits die hard, one can always pick up wisdom whenever life is kind enough to distribute some and mend one’s ways little by little.

RM’s outburst made me realize that there is nothing shameful in tears. Rather it is the need of the hour. I am sorry that RM has to go through this unavoidable pain which is an irrevocable truism of life. At the same time I am glad that I could touch his heart and reach out to a stricken soul when it needed the balm of consolation the most.

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