My daughter's best friend lost her father. Last year. She was in 5th standard. Ten years old.
She didn't cry. Or rather, I didn’t see her cry. Two weeks later, when she came to our home, I didn’t see her sad or mourning or weeping. I was looking out to catch a tear waiting to roll down. There was none. So normal she was that I was appalled to see it.
But wait! Why was I so desperate to see her sad? Why was I scanning her eyes? Why was I waiting for her to start missing her father any moment now and maybe either start howling in sheer grief or sit in a corner and sob silently?
Is it because it pushed me to think of my own death? It made me wonder how would Tanvi my daughter, react when faced with a similar unfortunate and clearly mentally devastating situation, so early on in life. Will she also be “normal” in two weeks flat? Most importantly, do I WANT her to cry for days on end when I die?
I do. I do!
Oh My God! Did I just say that out loud? Such a vain woman! So vain! So utterly despicably vain!
Thoughts of mortality – are they morbid or actually uplifting and beneficial? Visiting my mortality, time and again, in my thoughts, over the years, has been a see-saw ride for me.
I have said this, to many people, many times, that if I live till 50, that’s all I ask. I don’t want a long life. 50 will do for me. And to think, that’s just another ten years ahead.
Sometimes, this thought of death is accompanied by a sense of urgency and unreasonable bouts of jealousy. Knowing that there are so many places I still have not visited and desperately, (yes, desperately in bold and red), want to see, and so little time to do it all. That makes me wonder if I will be an unhappy soul. An ‘atrapth atma’ (unfulfilled soul) roaming the streets pushing tourists off the cliff or drowning others as they splash in the beach or choking some as they relish their food in a fancy restaurant. Will I be doing that? Will I turn into a vengeful, dissatisfied ex-traveller snuffing out the lives of other seemingly happy travellers? I can very well see myself doing that! What a shame! But I swear, if I die before I have seen all the places I want to see and do all the things I want to do, I will come back and haunt YOU – You who are now onto your next lovely travel adventure.
Then my thoughts turn to my daughter. 11 years old now. How will she manage her life without her mother? The question is almost always followed by a long, thoughtful pause. And then hits the piercing, stabbing-my-heart-till-it-bleeds-and-wets-the-floor realization. She will do just fine. She is far too practical and far less emotional than I have ever been. And that is both scary and comforting, at the same time.
It is scary because I am a selfish mother. Won’t she shed a few bloody tears bemoaning her great loss? Don’t I deserve a few months, (no, make it years), of sorrow for having given birth to her and raised her and then gone, wooof into thin air, leaving her all alone? I the mother, the creator, the nurturer, the nourisher - forgotten easily and surely – is that my fate?
It is comforting because for a mother there is no greater achievement than knowing that her daughter is confident. That she raised a girl who is self-reliant and can live her life without being a crutch. That all the sweat and sacrifice one endured has resulted in a child who will be just fine, even without you. That’s huge. I know. After all, isn’t that the whole purpose of parenting? To raise a young one such that one day they can set out on their own and not depend on you.
Sigh! I have to make peace with not getting those bucketful of tears.