My mother passed away in February 2015, after being struck by cancer for a third and final time. Buried in grief, I found myself questioning her soul, “Why didn’t you just live for yourself, after a certain point in your life?”. A couple of years before she moved on to another world, I sensed in her a listlessness, as if she wanted to unburden herself. She told me one day, “I want to sit with someone and just pour my heart out to him/her”. And though she would talk to me about everything, I understood that what she really needed was an anonymous listener. Someone who wasn’t related or known to her. It’s much easier opening up to strangers, isn’t it? Someone who will not judge and will just listen. I think most people experience this after a certain age_ a desire to narrate the story of their life to someone who listens and understands. She passed away, after a painful and prolonged battle with the dreaded disease, aged 63. When you lose someone who is so close to you, your whole perspective changes. You start to realize the meaninglessness of so many practices in your life. It dawns upon you that the nature of life is transient and your time too, is limited. I found myself making a resolve for life- To not waste my time on anything or anyone , not worthy enough.
Three days back; on the 18th of August, 2016, another soul passed away. She was the wife of the Commandant of the small cantonment that I live in. I met her for the first time only two months back and it was a short association. But we met many times after that first meeting at her home. We would meet at private gatherings, official parties, meets for social work and at the various parties that she threw at her beautiful home. The most lively person that I had met so far; she was all smiles and laughs with a zest for life. The term “Joie de vivre” has been coined for people like her. Warm, large hearted, with a larger laugh, she was a force to reckon with. And then suddenly, she was diagnosed with lukaemia. She left for treatment on the 1st of August and told her family that she would be back in no time. We all prayed for her on her 50th birthday on the 12th of August and everyone was certain that she would be back. Then on the 18th, the news of her demise arrived. Everyone was shell shocked and life for all of us came to a standstill for the next three days. All of us went to her home and waited for her family to arrive with “her”. When they arrived, our dearly loved “Ms. Kabindra” had a different identity. She had changed from “Babita” or “Ms. Kabindra”, to the “BODY”. Yes, this is how everyone refers to the departed. I looked around at the garden that she was so fond of, her much loved plants, flowers, her beautifully and lovingly done up home and her pet dogs. I looked at her distraught husband; who is known to be a man of few words and who perhaps delves into the social niceties because of her. I looked at her children; a son aged 22 years and a daughter aged 17 years. They were being brave for their father, exhibiting a maturity beyond their young years. There was a deathly silence in the whole house, as if nobody could come to terms with her sudden departure. When they took her away, the life went away from her home too.
She, who had a thousand more dreams for her children ; she who wanted a pahari bride for her son; she who talked incessantly of her daughter; she who knew how to fully live her life; she who brought life into whichever room that she walked in; she who was a no-holds-barred person; she who had so much of unfinished business to attend to; and she who had so much of life in her heart- had it snatched away. Who knows how many regrets she had , when she was on the ventilator. Who knows how many times she thought ” If only! “. And who knows that, when the Day of Reckoning arrives for us, how many “If only” moments we will have. The resolve that I had made after my mother moved on, has only been steeled some more. The resolve to not have too many moments of “If only” on my Day of Reckoning.
After all , who knows how much more time we have.
© April 2018 Sapna Dhyani