Today I come here to grieve…
Once again, I am here alone, while my family gets together in time of grief, this time to cremate my eldest cousin. He was a good man, and only 48.
When I was a kid, he used to carry me around on his shoulders. When I grew up he used to ferry me to the best ice cream shops in Chandigarh when I visited him during summer holidays. He always fought on my behalf with the other cousins when we played, since I was the youngest of the lot.
He called me “guddu beta” because I was so much younger than him. He did not stop calling me that even when I grew up. I can even hear his voice in my head right now.
He took care of all the cousins when we lost our Nani, and the parents were busy with the rituals around the house. He made sure we ate on time, and that we did not feel left out and sad. He explained to us what was going on and why we had to stay in one room, and not roam around and make noise.
He was strict, but he was kind. And he always pampered me the most, since I was the youngest.
He loved my father. I can still hear him say, “Shishu Uncle” with that sly smile, always mischievous, always looking for some topic to debate with Papa.
Those he loved, he loved dearly. Those he did not, he made sure they knew it.
His story is his own to tell, but for me, he will always be the “Gola bhaiyya” who could widen his eyes as much as he wanted, to scare me, and yet I was able to see the kind soul behind those eyes, and make him smile. And I hope I always be his “guddu beta”, no matter where he is now. One thing I am sure, he is in a better place.
Being in this country, so far away from my loved ones, I have had to find my way of coping with these situations. I grieve by myself. First I write in their memory, and then I go to the Gurudwara, and offer my goodbyes to their soul. And then I will go back to live the life I chose several years ago. The first day is hard. I struggle. The second day I push harder, and by the third day I blend in. A little more brittle, than the week before. I find it hard to share with people what happened. They’d wonder why I was not with my family, and instead trying to drown myself in normality.
I so wish I was with my family right now. This is not the first time it has happened, but for some reason this hurts more. It was not time for him to go, just yet. It’s premature. But so was my Dad’s departure. He was only 64.
Well I am sure the two of them will meet in heavens and pick a topic to debate about. While their guddu (aka guddu beta) types silently at night, with tears rolling down her cheeks and memories clogging her brain.
I don’t know how many more such memoirs I will write in my lifetime.