Today your son got an award for All Round Excellence in school. You know when my daughter came and told this to me, I just thought of you. I know if you were here, you would have said, ‘Thanks but I hope he keeps his feet on the ground.’ You would have also said, ‘You know he always does his work by himself, nije nijei kore nei.’ Congratulations Sujata, you did a great job with him. You must be so proud now.
It’s been slightly more than a month now since you left us. It feels so weird writing about you in past tense. As I am writing this, my throat is choking, my eyes are smarting, and I am actually feeling like dipping my fingers, one by one, into a pool of pain. And yet I feel if I don’t write about you soon, I will forget the golden moments of our friendship, like they will slip away from me. And before they do, I just need to catch them and put them in words, and keep them in a secured place.
We Hindus don’t have a cemetery, or a tomb, where we can come back and talk to our near and dear ones, once they are gone. We are told to let go.
And yet at times like this I wish there was a place where I can go and talk to you again, like how we used to do before. For 15 years we have chatted, off and on, about everything under the sun. Even when you were in the hospital, we chatted about everything. And now I can’t do that anymore! And it’s quite weird, since I really expect to see you when I turn my head, and I don’t. Oh no, I was not part of your family, but do you remember how we bonded? Over good times and bad times, through walks and endless cups of teas, with long chat sessions and gossips, we almost lived each other’s lives, stepped on each other’s shoes, and been there for each other all this time. And suddenly you are not here. It’s so difficult to come to terms that we’ll never meet again. Yes, let me tell you it’s pretty weird.
And I look at your son. Standing tall and proud, your 14 year old has suddenly become a grown-up, or so he thinks. I still see R as the boy he is, although people around have already started to refer to him as a wonderful and mature guy. But then, I see him as he stood the first day at the bus stop, the first day of the new session in school, without you, trying his best to keep the tears away, as he nods his head to my efforts to get him converse. Looking at him that day, my heart broke.
These days I don’t go to the bus stop with my daughter, A. you know why? Because A thinks if R is missing you at the bus stop, and since you and me, we always used to chat at the bus stop, I must not go to the bus stop and remind R of you. Don’t worry Sujata, your son is not alone. R’s friends are closing in around him, trying their best to keep him grounded, and taking care of him. This first year without you will be the hardest for him, but his friends are keeping an eye on him. He doesn’t know it yet, but I have a feeling where he will feel lonely, these children will step up, and keep him busy.
In this city of Delhi, where R has lost you, is probably the place where he is learning the life’s biggest lesson of survival, living without you, his mom. I know you are there with him always, and don’t worry, so are we. He’ll be fine, I think.