Spiders, traps and souls.


A few months back, I got a mosquito bat since the mosquitoes have become absolutely immune to coil and Good Night! And presently, my garden is swarming with them as the weather has mellowed down and, is at the moment conducive for both us and them. So, winging the bat gave me the feel of a she-dragon creating fire and unleashing it on the unsuspecting enemies whose sole aim was to drink my family’s blood! And on one fine day, when I was almost done with the massacre of mosquitoes, I saw a sly one flying towards the ceiling. No matter how high I jumped on the bed, I could not bring the bat and the insect face to face. And, while I was trying out almost every Monkey King posture (The Forbidden Kingdom and the Monkey King have indeed taught me a lot in dealing with non-humans), the elusive Anopheles continued to evade my attacks. So, while I was almost balancing on a single left toe, on the bed, with my left palm resting against the wall with my right hand with the bat raised high enough to reach the smirking insect, I almost thought I was going to fall off the bed, not only giving the mosquito its victory but also, adding a physical injury to my defeat! But then, the Puppeteer had other plans! The mosquito danced its way away from my bat and, boy! Did it land? Where and how!

The fine strings of the invisibly light web not only escaped my sight but also my enemy’s! Yes, the spider had a feast that day as the unsuspecting mosquito landed straight in the web. Somehow, I had mixed feelings that day. Now, let me be honest. I bat the blood out of mosquitoes not out of disgust but out of self defense, which is not unusual. Won’t you kill mosquitoes knowing how they enjoy human blood? However, I detest spiders as much as I respect them for their undying resilience. Not because they are hideous looking with the extra pair of legs but, because they bring in the concept of TRAP! They show you what you want and not, what they plan to do with you once you have arrived in their paradise. I still feel like Lil Miss Muffet with spiders around. And, that is what fills me with a strange sense of horror at times. That horror is – Fear of Unknown.

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I am not a fearless woman. I never was. But there was a time, when I probably pretended to be strong and fearless. 2013 broke that charade for good. Because, that year I learned about the power of fear. Until that year, I was not so wary of the said emotion. It felt good to preach people about being fearless. But, my brush with myasthenia gravis in 2013 changed my perception of fear. The cold shivers that went down my spine on the first day of attack is still fresh even though 4 years have passed by. That stormy phase of my life set in with my loss of speech over night. And when it happened, the first emotion was shock. That shock later culminated in a horrifying form of fear when I temporarily lost my ability to see the world clearly. Now, it was not unusual for people to face health issues. But when things go from good to bad, from bad to worse, from worse to “on my way to kick the bucket”, in a span of two days with no prior warning, the word unusual would be an understatement. The days that followed filled me with terrible nightmares as my son was just two years old then. I felt the first wave of what they call – the blow of the void!

With the onset of that nightmarish episode in my life, I felt I had stepped in a trap. However, the Puppeteer who saw me get into the trap was also the one who guided me out of it. Yes, in that phase, I was very angry. Angry with the Puppeteer. For the first time in life, I had no fear of Him. I perhaps spoke to Him in my head baring my absolute self in front of Him. That phase passed too. My belief in Puppeteer became stronger after I healed slowly and steadily in the care of my family and friends, again His creation. But in that period, I also learned of a greater agony, a greater pain. And, it was the unfathomable ache that comes over people who love us with their life, while we lie stone cold on the judgment slab, waiting for the Puppeteer’s decision. That ache………..that stabbing pain……cuts deep………………

And yesterday, I felt not just that pain but to an extent, the void too. A soul that we knew for over three years crossed over to the other world leaving behind his doe eyed beloved, his parents, his friends and the many who lit up seeing that bright smiling face. The shock of having lost this beautiful soul that I talk of, is still taking its time to sink. No one will ever be able to understand the bereavement felt by the soul mate. Maybe, we can feel the empathy. But that void….none can feel but the soul mate. That couple was a young couple that had evolved like children in front of our eyes. Whenever I saw them, my heart swelled with joy, the same joy that is felt when marveling at children’s laughs and giggles. And yesterday, his demise left behind a shock, a vacuum. The incidence of his demise played and re-played in my head for a long time. In all the times it played, I felt like screaming out aloud – “No! Don’t walk there.”  All my thoughts revolved around the zillion possibilities of how it could be undone if the Puppeteer re-winded time. But Hubby’s words brought me back to the real world – “What has happened has happened. One can only look and go forward from here. “

No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake it out of my head, which is also one of the reasons I am letting my thoughts out here. I am yet to accept the fact that he had crossed over leaving his beautiful child like beloved behind. I cannot believe in the reality that there will never be a next time to meet them as a couple. And worse, I cannot bring myself to imagine how the soul mate is currently dealing with the void that life had cruelly thrown at her with no fore warning.

Memories of a lifetime created together, places traveled far and wide, brisk walks and long yaps, promises of growing old together with all the zest, now felt like a stinger. The journey remains to be covered, however. My father subtly mentioned the other day – We all have that train to catch, child. Some board early, while some arrive late. All we need to do is brace ourselves, with enough Hope and Faith.

Sometimes, life throws us traps and, we quite boldly walk into them. We walk into them with no semblance of the word – danger just like this beautiful soul did. That itself goes to prove the humongous faith we have in the Puppeteer. Perhaps, He has his reasons which we may never know of. It is His stage after all and we, are his puppets.

That said, I have faith in you, Puppeteer. Show us all, the way as you have, always.

Amen.

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Someone has left for the stars’ abode.


“Narayani, don’t shout at Arjun, ok! Don’t spank him, even if he annoys you, ok! Let him be free, ok! Let him do what he wants, ok! Don’t clip his wings of creativity with ‘Dont do this! Dont do that’! Let him fly, high.” These words are going to stick with me for a long time. Because, they now belong to a soul that has passed on, peacefully and, with happiness.

The above telephonic conversation happened in the first week of June. My maternal uncle, Lakshman Mama had visited us briefly in May when, we had been to Chennai. It felt wonderful to see the two sisters (My mum and Paru chitti) and their big elder brother under one roof, fighting like children, pulling each other’s legs and, gossiping for hours! I do not have siblings. But I did have the privilege of watching and enjoying sibling love in a yester generation. And, the highlight of this visit was the beautiful bond that formed between my son -Arjun and, my mama. Despite Arjun being selectively social, he bonded with him as if they were long lost buddies! Inseparable from the start, both were into all kinds of mischief, be it cluttering the house or weaving ridiculously surreal stories, be it climbing up and down the stairs almost a fifty times in a day or, be it loitering around in the terrace like twin byomkesh bakshis! The duo has done all. Their agenda on terrace was simple: one, call the crow so that it can eat the paruppu sadam and two, collect the ‘kasappa kais’ meaning bitter fruits (the neem fruits) for the crows and, for us! After all, simple joys of life are hidden in the most child like activities.

And then, on 22nd August, we received a call about him. He had felt unwell in the afternoon and soon collapsed and, went into a coma. Doctors diagnosed him with a massive brain hemorrhage. And, after a night of shuttling between two worlds, my beloved Lakshman Mama decided to make his last move. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.

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Grief is a contorted emotion. One cannot quite figure out the way it works! And, this was the second time in my life, I saw my mother sobbing silently and uncontrollably in the kitchen. The first time was, the time of my granny – Kalyani Paati’s demise in the year ’99. Somehow, this time the grief returned with more force and, created a vacuum that no one can ever fill! And then, it was not just her. My chitti was broken too as she mentioned with a heavy heart, “From four, we are three now”. (Yeah, I have one more uncle who lives abroad)

Every memory we have of him in the years gone by and, especially from the one week he spent with us this year, is filled with his warm smiles and twinkling eyes, The hard part is, it has left a stabbing reminder behind – “Next time, when I visit South, he won’t be there to greet me warmly. He won’t be there to guide me in my pet subject of spirituality. He won’t be there to narrate ‘Kal thirudan, Arrai thirudan, mukkal thirudan, muzhu thirudan’ story to Arjun. He won’t be there to fight with Parvathi chitti (the youngest cub in the family likes to fight with her brother just for fun!). He won’t be there to teach me the tricks in Chess and Cards. He won’t be there to calm me down when I get into arguments with Mum and Chitti. yes, He won’t be there any more.”

Even when my paati passed away in ’99, Lakshman Mama was the one who made sure that the home was not swallowed by grief. He taught me trigonometry in spare time and, at the same made sure that children were not exposed to grief up front. In fact, he even took blame for a ridiculously stupid act of mine and, all these years I had buried the incident deep in my head. I had sprayed the walls of the bathroom with my chittapa’s shaving foam and, chitappa was furious when he was met with the graffiti on the wall, as soon as he entered the bathroom groggy eyed in the morning! Mama looked at my cat face and, mentioned subtly that he had tried to use it but it just sprayed everywhere. No one believed him though. However today, I guess I have to look up and, smile at him and thank him. I am not sure if he must have ever remembered this, but I am sure, he must be smiling now if he ever happens to read my post here from above. (Do angels facebook? Who knows, they might!) 🙂

On 23rd August, we lost a chess master, a magician with cards (every trick of his was a revelation!), an aspiring Vedic scholar, a Maths tutor who taught children in his neighborhood for free and, importantly a good soul who helped people even when he was not in a position to help himself. During the last meet, I was mesmerized by the way he explained complicated procedures of our Indian culture in a simple lucid manner. And, there was a conspicuous twinkle in his eyes when he delved into the subject of Vedas. He explained how science, spirituality and religion are like the sides of a triangle and that, they are entwined in a magical way. He also got me a book on Bhagwatam, and asked me to read out stories to Arjun everyday. Sensing my interest in spirituality, he had promised to teach me a lot on the subject when we would meet next time. Sadly, the next time will never come now.

My maami who has handled her irrevocable loss with grace and elan mentioned how he reminisced the happy moments he spent with Arjun in that one week. We smiled and cried at the same time.

However, when I heard about his demise, there were two strong emotions I felt. One, a void that shall remain a void in my life and, second, a strange sense of peace that he did not suffer at all in his last hours as a mortal. But, the grief of having lost a loved one stays as it engulfs us in a dense cloak of vacuum every time, his dancing eyes marquee in front of us, as relished memories. Every time I look at the chess board or, a deck of playing cards or, at the countless puzzles and riders in the newspapers, it reminds me of the bitter reality – He is not physically present with us anymore.

Mama, you lived a blessed life. You have inspired everyone you met. And, as you watch from the heavens above, you would know how many people have shed and are shedding tears on your untimely unexpected exit from the mortals’ world. You are remembered as an genius with the kindest heart that provided comfort to everyone you met. You are remembered with love, respect and pride. But more importantly, you are missed by each one of us. But maybe, this was God’s design. I am proud to be your niece and, I know you are happy, peaceful and content wherever you are now. And from now on, you will watch over us. I know. 

Amen.

P.S: This is a pic from 2012 when a one year old Arjun met his mama tatha – my Lakshman Mama for the first time.

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