Something happened today. We were expecting guests at home for a breakfast meet, so I was up earlier than usual helping mum make them array of dishes. I had forgotten to turn my phone on amidst all the groggy working. When I did a while later, I see a text from a friend. The text said a friend of ours had passed away.
When I say friend, do bear this in mind - he is young, hale and hearty, has the world’s sweetest wife and a beautiful little child. This friend was even spoken to less that 36 hours ago. This friend who had been inviting us home for months. This friend who called me ‘anniyathi’ (sister in mallu) because I once mentioned that if I could have a brother, it would be him. The friend, my brother.
I looked at the text and sent a WHAT? Even before it got delivered, I called the informer. He said yes, he had passed away. My mind instantly started thinking of various possibilities of how this could be a prank. Was it the 1st of April already? Was it a birthday and was I being scammed for forgetting to wish? Was it a prank for not keeping in touch? I half laughed and said ‘What’, again. My friend said he had passed away in a road accident last night. I froze.
Have you ever felt your body go numb within microseconds? Your brain go blank yet there’s this internal scream that you alone can hear, erupting from the base of your stomach? “Weren’t we just talking about him, didn’t you just talk to him yesterday? I just spoke to his wife a couple of days back! What is this! This can’t be true.”
I don’t remember what the replies were. I don’t remember when I cut the call. I walked around in a daze. Apparently, I’d turned pale, ‘cos the folks took one look at me and asked what was wrong. A while later my friend texted that there was going to be a funeral and would I want to come. I said ‘yes’.
I am not even going to try and describe what the scene was in the afternoon today. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. His mum was there, watching her son being brought wrapped up in that white cloth. His daughter, who kept saying ‘Look, his eyes are half open’ and then breaking down vehemently. His wife who was too lost for words, shaking uncontrollably. He was surrounded by friends- grown men who bawled like babies. But yet, nothing I say now will be enough to describe the air this afternoon.
I stood there, weeping. He looked like he was sleeping, like he would wake up any minute. I was hoping, praying that he would. That there would suddenly be some sort of soft movement or a slight breathing or a fluttering of an eyelid. People, meanwhile, gathered around to look at him, for the last time. Minutes, hours passed. People kept pouring in.
And I stood there thinking. Who would have thought that that morning would have been the last day they ever spoke to their husband, their dad, their son, their colleague, their best friend, their brother? So many things left unsaid. So many emotions left unconveyed. The chance to do it will never EVER come back. It’s gone, lost, forever. The heaviness in your heart when you realise that this will always be left unfulfilled, is a pain you can never get over.
I don’t know why I chose to write all this down. Maybe I was hoping to find a little solace. I don’t know whether I found it though. I keep thinking of how all this could just be a really really bad dream and I’ll wake up tomorrow to find him alive and healthy.
If it ain’t one, I hope his loved ones find immense strength and courage and most importantly love, to get through this.
I am sorry for the really bad writing.