Monday, May 14, 2012


(Image source: Seismic_2000's Flickriver stream)

Someone has died.

Someone I know not from too long ago, died. He was a colleague from my ex-ex-workplace, and he died last evening. Young, boisterous, beer-guzzling, kebab-loving AK died of some terrible kind of stomach infection. I find out on Facebook this morning. I am shocked, sad, upset. I leave a customary RIP message on that post made by my ex-ex-boss. But because I am on Facebook, and I have 10 minutes before getting ready for office, I proceed to 'Like' some posts and pictures of other friends. Someone's even had a baby. "Congrats!" I say.

But someone has died.

A mother's son. I am given to tears. No parent should have to live through the death of their offspring. I am trying to remember if he had a girlfriend. I am wondering about crushed dreams. I am also looking at the clock and cursing myself. I could be late. I hate getting late. I run into the shower, and I am thinking to myself how uncertain life is, and how hot the water is. I turn off the geyser. The cold water feels nice on my sweat-dried, worked-out skin. I am reminded of the ritual of bathing dead bodies before clothing them in finery for their last journey. I am also taking mental notes about buying soap on my way back home from work. I like Mysore Sandal Soap.

But someone has died.

AK won't need soap again, or the money to buy soap. He won't need to worry about getting to work on time, or working at all. He won't need to stand in front of the cupboard and decide what to wear. But he must have done it all a week ago, perhaps a month (I don't know how long he was ill). How inconsequential all of it seems now. But the pink skirt is what I choose. It's not ironed, but it's okay; people will be looking at my freshly-waxed legs anyway. Irreverently, 'Yai re, yai re, zor lagake nache re' pops into my head. It is perhaps the skirt that invoked the image of Urmila swaying to music. I brush it off, chastising myself. I wonder at the measure the human mind takes to cope with bad news/grief/disorder. Anything to maintain the semblance of the normal. I wear my Titan Raga watch. It has been nicely fixed now. The glass face was broken. I also wear some dangly earrings - with a heart and a star on it. Must scoot. I wonder about the wisdom of wearing heels today.

But someone has died.

Someone who, just like me, cared about how he looked. He and I won the "Best Dressed Employees" that year on Diwali. He made the effort to adorn his body. But he doesn't have a body anymore. Taken away just like that. With something as 'lame' as a stomach infection. Why, I get those all the time. This doesn't seem real... ("R.K. Studio", I tell the rickshaw wala. These darned shoes are still giving me shoe bites)... Until last week, a young person dying of a heart attack seemed unreal. A junior from college. And until three weeks before that a young person, a college mate, committing suicide seemed so. News-y things happening to people I once shared spaces with. My world has three less familiar faces. These faces didn't mean much while they were living, but now that they are gone, the gap is noticeable. Not for long, though. Perhaps this is what it feels like when a tooth is extracted. You stop noticing it after some days. These guys here, drinking chai and smoking cigarettes, sending admiring glances my way as I walk up the steps of the office building, won't miss me if I stopped coming to office; if I stopped existing. For now, they make my effort to match my lipstick with my outfit seem worth it. I am drifting. I am going about my life, my work, as I would everyday. I am on Twitter, on excel spreads and word documents, on fashion websites and messengers, and good old Facebook, where a picture of AK, along with a condolence post by other ex-ex-colleagues remind me that     

someone has died.   

I am thinking people become pictures so easily. Like a little hiccup in our routines. Tomorrow, the lame jokes will start. But that's the thing about being alive. About worrying about groceries, and EMIs, an old crush, a new love, illnesses, weight loss, familiar sex, good music, favourite movies, pride, regret, old friends, new friends, and so much more. It is also about getting bugged with interns' questions, as I am now, about getting irritated with the excessive sugar in the watery coffee that this peon makes, about feeling elated at having helped change people's course of life, about sleeplessness that comes when your young children are young, or old. I think I am beginning to shed the romantic notions of dying young. For the first time, I feel greedy about living. There are so many people to live for, and so much in life to celebrate, although

someone has died.   



Reema Prasanna said...

There is so much I want to say here. Like going through these exact same thoughts when a friend, an acquaintance died.

But instead, I'll mention how I have no memory of any detail when I heard my dad had died. Except that the door I was expecting him to walk through was a still empty frame.

That'll go with me.

Some deaths, some gaps, fill fast. Some craters will never fill. The only reason I know life goes on is because everyday, I realise that despite his death, im still alive.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge believer of fate and kismet and I truly believe that has led me to read this post today. One of my closest friend's family members passed away this morning, and it has been a trying time for all of us who have been with him.

Similar thoughts about life, and death, have been accosting me, and you have summed it up perfectly. I especially like the part where you say something along the lines of : the search for normalcy in the face of trauma is the human defense mechanism. I think this sums everything up perfectly.

You're a beautiful writer, and this is...amazing. Thank you, for this. x

Love, Miffalicious. []

Ree said...

Sending my condolences your way, Urmi and Arathi.

And the way this post was written is not only eloquent but also echoes something similar that goes through my mind when I receive the news of someone's passing.

Urmi Chanda Vaz said...

@Reema: That void that you speak of can never really be filled. It's less like an extracted tooth and more like an amputated limb. But I hope you've found your strengths along the way.

@Miffalicious: When you truly need something, the Universe provides you with it. You have in me, a co-believer in kismet, and a person trying to come to terms with a loss, however small. May we be healed and learn to heal.

@Ree: I think it's all of us, Ree. Births and deaths affect all of us in a very similar, primeval manner. Thankyou.

Smitz586 said...

Same feeling here, it's just like why can i not stop and just be for a while thank the soul for his companionship, his friendship, his just goes on...

Anonymous said...

The difference lies in 'who' has died. Was it an acquaintance, then yes - you can think of mundane stuff and move on immediately... If it was your own blood and flesh, then that 'death' haunts you for your 'life'.

Urmi Chanda Vaz said...

@Smitz586: Yes. Unfortunately, we realise someone's worth only after they are gone. May AK rest in peace.

@anonymous: I will have to agree.