The thing that is most disturbing about grief is that it comes uninvited, all of a sudden and without any reason. You never know what thing, feeling or situation will trigger it and leave you lifeless.
It hits you like a tornado, and you have no time to crouch or hide. You have to take the blow. Straight at your heart. You can feel your ribs twitching and your mouth feels parched. Your forehead stretches and you try to keep your eye open and wide because you know if you let them close, tears will start trickling down. A hollow feeling finds its way down your stomach and churns and churns until you are rendered handicapped — physically and mentally.
You lose your voice and a sharp pain originates from your abdomen and takes control over your upper body. You find it difficult to breathe. You feel like some creeper is crawling over you and with each second it is diffusing your abilities to act rationally. The creeper finally takes control and you lose your will and close your eyes. At this point, tears start rolling down and then you feel a sense of ease over your shoulders. Your physical and mental abilities are slowly restored and you resume your actions. You now feel like your body was squeezed and left in that state for a long period of time. You begin to unwrinkle your self with each passing minute and come back to the real world … which by the way kept on going all this while. You play catch up and get going too.
I did not know this, until I lost my father a few years ago. I am pushed into grief by the most unusual events. A blaring ambulance making its way in heavy traffic in San Francisco can easily push me into the phase I described above. Young adults with their parents in a park in Mountain View, can also cause the same reaction. Sometimes it is as simple as reading an article remotely related to some old memories. How all of these things tie together into making me feel like an orphan, is amusing to me.
Yesterday morning I was in the Muni when a blind woman who was standing with her dog right at the door lost her balance and fell on the floor. Some of us helped her get back on her feet and she gave us a beautiful smile. To my utmost surprise, her smile drove me into grief. And since then I have been engulfed in this state that I am just not able to get out of. And hence I am writing.
Her smile was similar to that of my father when he and I were standing outside the US Consulate, waiting for me to go in for my student visa interview, back in 2005. It is a smile that is more of statement. It goes like this, “I have tried my best. But still I stumble sometimes. Forgive me if it is of an inconvenience to you. I am sure we will be able to come out of this.” It is a smile that you can trust.
I don’t know why and how I correlated the two events in my subconscious mind which I am told I have no control over. But I did. And right now, through this post I am unwrinkling myself and trying to get back to the real world.
I wish I could smile just like that woman more often. Her smile makes this world a better place to live in. And although sometimes it drives people like me to grief, yet, it is in these moments that I connect with my father and converse with him, and then I go back to living my normal life.