“What does one do when someone wants to touch one’s wound?”
I was sitting at a cafe bustling with people of all ages, from an infant in her mother’s arms sipping coffee with her friends to a group of middle-aged men sharing sandwiches. It was going to be my third meeting for the day.
The client was late by 45 minutes. I replied to some emails and took to Twitter, the only social media platform I like. Although not as much as I did in 2011 but still. A journalist I follow had shared and admired an article that flashed a familiar face. While I was still unsure if I was correct, I saw his name. The header read, ‘If I had told this story to Ankit, he would have told me two.’ I knew it was him, Ankit Chadha.
Unfortunately, I read about this marvellous story-teller on the day he accidentally and tragically died. There was something magnetic about him. I googled him, read about him. I kept seeing his videos the whole day. I started mourning for a person I didn’t know until he ceased to live. Sameera Khan had known him longer through Twitter than I knew him through youtube. While illustrating the void Ankit had left in her life, she also described his response to her father’s death. Sameera narrated the things only her mother saw and others dismissed. I started feeling uneasy as I was reading her account while waiting. The lights, the noise and the air conditioning were nauseating the life out of me. I couldn’t bear my surroundings. I wanted to get up and walk out. I thought of texting my client that I had to leave for an emergency.
“This is one of those times when you want to have a child’s belief that a note written on a paper plane surrendered to wild winds will take it to the right person.”
The truth was staring into my face and I could not come to terms with it. I always thought that the bitterness within was the vacuum my father had left. What I had failed to see was the source. It was not his loss, it was him. I used to feel irritated when people said that I had developed a temper. It grew slowly and started overflowing as I left my home and mother alone, the only daily reminders of his connection. Even my friends had started complaining. They declared that I had changed. From a person who never expressed dislikes to someone extremely vocal about everything. I wanted to scream. Smiling faces around seemed loathsome. All those moments spent in envy were hitting me hard. Each time I stared at a little girl holding her father’s finger, humming rhymes while standing on a riding scooter or just playing with him; I wasn’t happy for them, I was angry at him. It made me realise how slow and high maintenance grief is. It doesn’t go away in 6 months, it comes back in forms you may not recognise, like auto-immune diseases. The way love doesn’t really go away, it just changes shapes and size, faces and density. You take time to identify and accept it before you can figure out how to deal with it. And that learning is a life long process.