The Day My Grandmother Died

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My grandmother passed away when I was 13. 
 
She was one of those women who smiled even when the sky was overcast with great big depressing black clouds. The kind of woman who kept her cool even when the house and her life was chaotic. The kind who was generous even when she suffered and was thankful even on days when she was ill. 
 
I don’t remember her even looking at someone angrily. And we did plenty to make her so. 
 
The day she died, I remember my mother gently shaking me awake at six in the morning and telling me to get dressed. On an ordinary day I would have protested and resisted and asked why? But there was something in the quiet solemnity of her voice that begged no questions. I was 13 but I heard it almost as if she said it in so many words. 
 
I dressed and we went to pay our last respects. I saw the body of the gentlest woman in the world laid out and I cried like a little baby. My mom let me be for a while and then said – Come on – you will be late. I asked for what? And she said – For your poetry competition. I looked at her incredulously – Do you still think I should go for that? And she said in the most tender voice possible – ‘Yes. Life goes on. You cannot do anything here. And she would have wanted you to go.’ I paraphrase of course – but I think I remember most of it correctly. 
 
I tried hard to understand what my mother wanted me to know. And I think I got it.
 
It wasn’t an important exam or a life-altering competition. It was just one of those inter school things. The competition wasn’t important – the moving on was. 
 
My grandmother laughed. She cried. She lived. And now she was gone. 
It was the turn of the living now. To live. 
 
 
I did go to that competition. I wrote a poem which won me the prize. 
 
I wrote a poem on sunshine and the beach. On the day my grandmother died. 

 

Living and Dying and Living again

 
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Imagine watching The Sixth Sense and knowing how it is going to end. It would still be a good movie but probably half as much fun. 
 
Do we enjoy reading books where we already know the end in which the principal character dies? 
Or movies where the climax scene in which the hero turns out to be the killer is leaked out?
Or a play where you know the protagonist is the villain? 
 
Most of us don’t. 
 
We find the whole exercise pointless. At least I do. The whole effort of watching and reading something when we know how it is going to end seems so utterly futile. 
 
If the above holds true for the most of us – isn’t it odd that we love living so much? 
 
I mean don’t we already know the collective end to ALL our stories? God leaked out that climax even in the days before spam emails and whatsapp. 
 
Maybe thats why some people commit suicide. They probably don’t see the point in reading a book when the end has been known for centuries. 
 
How is it that we find living so thoroughly fascinating? Does the end not matter to us? Or is it that somehow by some extraordinary will power we manage to temporarily wipe out that end from our minds?  Do all of us have the power to forget about death and some of us use that power and some don’t? We could spend all day talking about this. 
 
But this is not about gloomy stuff like dying. 
 
This is about living. 
 
I think we like living because we think of death as the interval. 
 
Death is NOT the climax scene. Just a really invigorating, depressing traumatic, painful, gripping scene – PRE INTERVAL. Just to create a buzz. 
 
You go out of the theatre for a bit during the interval. Buy caramel flavored popcorn in heaven or hell. Get a cup of coffee, chat with the folks milling around at the snack counter, comment on the movie so far, criticize the director and analyze cinematography. Come back in and look at trailers for other movies for a bit. 
 
Then you start with the second act.
 
What we have lived so far and what we will live till we die is only – Pre interval. We got a whole lot of movie left to experience. 
 
Maybe subconsciously we understand this. Maybe thats why we love living. 
 
In fact some of us know something even more interesting. This is not just a two act play. There are a dozen more to go. This is just Part I of the Harry Potter series perhaps.
 
Those who end their own lives Pre interval unfortunately just didn’t get the memo.