Sincere grief is a strange emotion. It is a journey and a destination at the same time. It blocks everything till you are not able to come to terms with the cause of the grief.
I write a lot. I blog about current affairs, books, movies and express myself in public forums. I can speak in a crowd, I can speak to a crowd (there's a difference mind you) and I am articulate enough to hold my own in an exchange of ideas. But the one incident which I found myself unable to express myself about or to even think about was my grandfather's death two years ago. Mysteriously, when I tried to open my mind to even myself; when I tried to communicate about this loss to even myself - I found I was "tongue-tied" as the expression were. No tears, just an inexplicable ball in my gut. I didn't talk about his death, I didn't discuss it with friends or family and I couldn't bear the thought of publicly acknowledging the event itself. I carried on as if nothing had happened. I saw social media posts from my family members a few days after ajoba passed away and the foremost emotion in my mind was anger. How could they publicly express such a pure emotion? I felt as if they had dirtied that pure emotion by displaying it in public.
Some time ago my YouTube feed popped up the RSS theme song. I was sitting idle watching nonsense. I clicked on it. The most popular version begins in a sonorous voice and has the feel of a solemn chant . . "नमस्ते सदा वत्सले मातृभूमे . . . ".
And the whole thing came crashing down. My brain was literally overloaded with images and memories till I couldn't handle the sudden influx. Images of my last conversation with ajoba, images of him teaching me math, images of him standing before a chair with his crutch, images of his powerful forearm gripping his walker, images of us. Memories, memories, memories. Through all my rebellious teens, he always believed in me and stood by me. He might have had his flaws and his fallacies, but through all the ups and downs, he was always in my corner. He passed away one day after I reached a new work assignment in Poland. I had told him that I would return in a month and that we would catch up after I got back. I never got that chance.
Maybe that anger of unfinished business blocked my thoughts. Maybe my own habit of not expressing my emotions enough blocked my own understanding of my grief. Maybe if I HAD expressed my emotions enough when he was alive would have helped me come to terms with his loss when he passed away. Whatever it was, it took two years for me begin to understand this and to come to terms with his loss. Today I am not angry at my relatives for posting about his passing on social media. Today I realize that I cannot undo what has happened in the past, but I can make changes for the future. Today I hope that even if I am not good at expressing my emotions, the people around me know how much I care for them. That I might not say it or express it loudly and in public, but I will always be in their corner, just like ajoba was always in mine.