“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
And when death happens, it takes away both strength and courage. In one such time, I remembered what Shakespeare wrote when King Lear dies in Act V; no ornate words, no extended mourning, no eloquent speech.
One of the world's greatest playwrights could have done that easily, but he chose to write just two words, "He dies".
Perhaps, we need to learn from what he wrote. I will tell you why; because my mother has been living my father’s death for 15 years now. If you ask me, I would say that even a year of solitude is too big a burden, imagine 15 and forget 1,000. That is better left for a book's title.
When death comes, it is mostly unannounced, and people are mostly unprepared. I saw my mother, a woman of 45, go silent in a way that was unlike silence. We would often sit wordless in that balcony by the river, the same balcony that used to be full of conversations.
Over the years, I saw that woman getting grey in her hair, not slowly but all at once; mostly a ghost of what she was. Her big red bindi was gone, so were the anklets, because that is what the societal norms were and I was too young to have those broken then. I saw that woman give up her dreams overnight, losing herself in the emotional and practical storm that followed. A soul that was lost in figuring out finances, the fast-changing dynamics of her relationships, of making her kids feel more protected and cared for than ever before.
I saw a life going to silence, firstly of shock, and then, of solitude. While much of life came back to regular, her loneliness stayed, never letting itself go. Perhaps, she clutched too hard to it.
I saw her living a death that was not hers, and that is when I had 'the' conversation.
A few years back, while she was busy obsessing over my love life, I turned the table around. For a few blurred moments, it looked like she was not expecting her daughter to talk to her about seeing somebody again. While I am no believer in marriage, I am a very ardent believer in love. Failing to understand that, she replied that it is a stupid thing to think of, before using words that included children, society, age and some more, all proof of the conditioning we are brought up with.
Since my conversation with her was going to no end, I broke it down to her in simple words, telling that I am as concerned about her solitude as she is for mine. Because you see, solitude is too heavy a burden when it stands synonymous to being alone.
My conversation ended with her confession that she had not liked anyone after my father, a comfortable confession that felt true. While I will keep wondering if that is a truth or not, I think that there comes a time when children need to talk back, in faith that they would be heard.
Our parents, the single ones, are perhaps waiting for the same nudge that they have been giving to us. They need it more than us, for meeting people and probably dating again is something that they believe needs an affirmation from their kids. Well, this is to tell them that it does not; not from us or anyone else.
You see, a generation that has been shackled should be met by the generation that has become synonymous with most things unshackled; even if it leads us to go back all the way and meet them in absolute confidence.