Life and Death

I don’t understand death. None of us do. People say it is a ‘better place,’ heavenly abode, or final destination. The truth is that no one knows. What we do know, however, is that we are born and we die, and we pray and hope that there is a reason for this phenomenon. We have all lost people we love. Our relationship with the departed is irrevocably changed in a moment. We are compelled to go from dialogue to monologue. They are forcibly extricated from our daily interactions and become memories. Some hazy, some vivid, some distorted memories which ebb and flow while we go about our daily routines pretending to be fine. The only time we interact with our lost ones is when they appear in our dreams as though they have never gone, till we wake up and lose them all over again.

The death of a dear one creeps up on us. There are formalities to be completed and relatives to be met and condolences to be answered, which we do gracefully and automatically as we have been taught to do. Some of us may cry, or rage, but many of us merely muddle dates and numbers and feel confused all the time. Grieving isn’t a period. It’s a constant process. It travels with us on life’s journeys and nudges us intermittently. It is aware of the missing person while we listen to a song, watch a sunset, or embark on a new project. It becomes a part of us, and changes us forever, like we are walking around with an added appendage, an aura over our heads, a hallucination by our sides. We aren’t clinging to grief; we are clinging instead to the lives we once shared.

Yet we must live like we will never die and perhaps we never do. I don’t know if the soul is indestructible, but human will certainly is. I try every day to make my life worth living. I reinforce my attachment to my family, my creativity and my surroundings. I live with irritants and pollutants, suffer through medical tests and treat illnesses. I want to be there for my relatives and my friends. I want to bemoan the absurdity of existence but appreciate the fact that I exist. I want to respect whatever time I have because even when that time is up, someone, somewhere will recall an anecdote I shared, or read something I wrote, or point at my face in a photograph, and then everything I did will feel worthwhile. I don’t understand death and never will. It is enough that I understand life.

In memory of my dear, beloved friend Shama

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