Sunday, May 13, 2012

When I learnt instead

There are some people you know—whose dim presence is always there in the back of your mind, even when, possibly, they are half the globe away. You do make friends in chance encounters and you do tend to think—how will this person impact me for the rest of my life? You do smile and exchange a few hellos here and there, and then forget. But you know, a few people have a way of coming back, a few people have a way of startling you, a few people are framed with remarkable strength and grit. And every time the beauty of the human spirit reveals itself to you, you are left with a quiet fulfillment of understanding, of a blessed thankfulness of having to have seen that side of them. Because, truly, people have the ability to startle. Brilliantly so.

I do have a friend you cannot quite call a high-schooler, simply because her fortitude is much beyond her years. She, I think, is one of those rare individuals who have successfully understood the value of human life itself, and such things are yet to find me. I take life very much for granted, not inserting the ‘I love you!’ at the end of all conversations, not calling people beautiful, or letting people know exactly how much they matter to me. I forget to call home every once in a while, so they pick up the phone and query, ‘Do you honestly care?’ I laugh it off like it’s not an important question. But you know, I do care. I do worry for family, and I do love them with all my heart. It’s just that I do not verbally communicate that, or even in my actions. Sometimes, I end up feeling paradoxical as I sit with this noise and try to figure myself out.

 How much does one value life? How much does one value people for all their worth? And how much does one regard them once they are gone? She knows the answers to these questions, and learning from her has been eye-opening to me.

She was always a sprightly teenager full of dreams, and I saw much of the same mellow timidity floating in her eyes that I saw in me at sixteen. She was a purely creative soul, reveling in the music that composed this world. She recognized the beauty in art quite early, and was a poet of remarkable virtue.  I guess that is how we bonded, through poetry. And what was merely a common ground came to occupy much more of my life than I thought possible. She became that sister I never had.  I loved her for everything she was.

Something happened last month. She lost the most important man in her life, her father—a sudden and terrifying encounter of loss.

How does one handle that?

The mail came to me very early in the morning, when I was in a study room talking to people about consolidating my future plans. I was all worried about my future, and the only questions that seemed to matter were what I would do after graduation. I was in my own selfish realm of contemplation; all I could think of was me. The mail awakened me to the uncertainty of human life, and how dramatic a turn life can take. It knocked the breath out of me, an important mail hiding between all the useless Facebook notifications. My father is in the ICU, here is the exact medical condition, do you think he’ll survive?
The question was weighty, a whole human life hung by it.

I had access to expert opinion, and when I could obtain it, it was a clear no. But how do you break it to a little girl who is just about opening her eyes to the world? I didn’t. I didn’t have the heart to. I did not tell her, but she knew what to do. She spoke to him every single day, even if he would not respond. She somehow knew he was listening.

An extreme agitation ate at me for the next few days, when I knew the certainty of the outcome but could not share, when I felt like swearing, multiple times, at the fragility of life. And I could not believe something so big could affect someone so young. It was agitation of the unexplainable variety, and I squirmed until I learnt of his passing. An unbelievable grief enveloped me then, even if I had never seen this man in my life. I saw the event as something absolutely cataclysmic to the tender-hearted dreamer of a girl, an upheaval for someone who saw so much beauty in the world. I feared it might destroy her immense vision and creativity, thaw the high aspirations and change the sweetest of personalities into someone encrusted by grief, malice and depression. It is hard to see the beauty of this world when it has robbed you of your greatest treasure.

I spent those days talking long walks. I wrote to her many letters. I walked on those sorrowful days, catching and capturing brilliant sunrises of awakening summer mornings. The beauty of the world was still in evidence to me, and it distilled to my space and acted as my healing. I made these experiences pictures and songs and constantly bombarded the internet with them, in order to prevent her from forgetting the very real raw beauty that existed in this world. I was worried she wouldn’t recognize this—maybe she saw it only as an unreadable component of a previous life. I was more than bothered.

I talked to her yesterday, and she recounted the incident vividly,

My uncle came and we left for the hospital. On the way, near Domllur, I saw something beautiful. The sun was still at the horizon. The sky was red and yellow. I saw it. It was beautiful, so beautiful. I knew my father was dead. I still couldn't help but appreciate the beauty, and I knew he was in a better place now. I saw him there, and I saw my reflection on the glass.   I saw us together.   I share half of his genes.   I am a part of him, and I will live. And do what I am meant to do here.”

That one second, I was proud of her. I was proud that these words came from just a teenager. Such remarkable resilience to the human spirit, I thought.

You will be legacy,’ I told her.

I turned away, knowing that my work here was done. There were only one thing that remained to be said…a grateful thank you! to her for living so beautifully.  And I felt like singing, like the poets we are:

It permeates this space and unburdens our souls.
It lightens your rummaging heart with dazzling sunshine, 
and puts to rest an unrest, furthermore,  
Here, all are together and I love you.


Shreyas Panambur said...

Such a beautiful story and the way you present it is extraordinary. The nobility of thought and essence of what you write is so deep that it really moved me.

veena said...

Brilliant! I never knew that the loss of a dearest person can be expressed in such a delicate lovely string of words! I can see the writer writing with her heart, not just pen! God Bless you forever!

greeshmagirish said...

that was beautiful :)i have much more to say about this..another time:)


Good one Lakshmi! Very touching!!!
Keep them coming!! God bless u!!


Good one Lakshmi!! very touching!!
God bless u!!!

praneshachar said...

two super angels one who expressed and the who penned with heart its just amazing how important and big you are. may the family gets all the strength to bear the loss and the departed soul rest in peace
nothing more to say I bow my head in sheer appreciation

praneshachar said...

two super angels one who expressed and the who penned with heart its just amazing how important and big you are. may the family gets all the strength to bear the loss and the departed soul rest in peace
nothing more to say I bow my head in sheer appreciation

Roshni Vijay said...

It brings you to tears- the sheer beauty of it, the love you sprinkle around in your stories, the joy of being able to relate to it as a human being and to be able to relate to your words,as an amateur writer myself.

Sandeep Menon said...

I totally echo Veena's thoughts here. You've expressed these thoughts so beautifully well that, one could almost feel the angst and the agony and the eventual beauty of it all going through in ones mind while reading it.
Keep Blogging!

Tejas said...

God bless this friend of yours. Shes got the strength and grace...actually the fearlessness amazes and calms me at the same time...dispassion is what I can call innate quality of any being which typically is not realized in this world of white noise...just happened to to come across your write well