Death is uncertain. It doesn’t give you the time to say goodbye.
Death is lifeless. It gets you cold and blue.
Death is sad. It numbs your soul.
Death is silent. It eats away your thoughts.
Death is loud. It makes your family howl with pain.
When Renee’s mom died, I was 8, scared and tearful. I could hear her howling and crying in every corner. Even when I buried myself in the heavy quilt whose florescent pink color I loved. Those painful shrieks of hers squeezed my heart. I could feel its throb when I placed my palm on my chest that was layered with two sweaters. It was another cold December day and we lived in Shimla.
When Aunt Rita died, I was 12, worried and sad. I was not sure if she had left behind the ‘sticky toffees’ which she often made for me. Two on weekdays and three on weekends. Truthfully, they were unattractive brown rectangles wrapped in a thin plastic sheet twisted at both ends. Most of them were extra sweet and of course, extra sticky. Sometimes she would make them so sticky that I had to force my molars to get apart once they got stuck. Poor molars, they had a tough time when got stuck, somehow I loved it.
I wanted my dead aunt to eat those toffees but she showed no response. She lay on a clean bed sheet on the cold wooden floor. Why wasn’t she feeling shivery? Grandma said that from now she will sleep forever. It sounded absurd to me. Mrs Aluwaliah, my science teacher, never mentioned about sleeping forever as yet. Maybe it had to be taught further. I wanted to kiss and wake her up but I was scared of touching somebody so cold and lifeless.
Yes. Death is painful.
It’s a pain to see a body so full of life a moment back and so dead now.
Grandma also passed away silently. After Aunt Rita’s death I had told grandma to tell me in advance if she ever planned to sleep for a long time. She laughed it off; I assumed she understood how serious I was. Her death hit me worse than Aunt Rita’s or Renee’s mom.
I saw her lying on the chilled floor with her beautiful pear shaped face covered under the whitest bed sheet that we ever owned. White is peace, it became sorrow for me. Grandma was never very pretty. She had a dark complexion and loose skin. I’d always seen her with wrinkles and white hair. She had two pins clipped simultaneously on the left side of her hair. She had proofs to make me believe that her hair was once long and black, photographs of her and grandpa perhaps.
I had just reached Shimla early morning. I was told that she was unwell and so she wanted to meet me. I’ve seen incidences where the children were called back home on pretext of somebody’s illness and were later revealed with some news of death. I didn’t know if I was facing a similar situation.
I couldn’t see her lying that way. It was weird to see a hail and hearty grandma, so still and numb.
I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to get her back. More deeply than I wanted Aunt Rita or Renee’s mother.
Her ears missed the shine of the diamond earrings she wore. They were partly square and slightly rectangle, with outer line having eight small diamonds and the center having another small one. I always wanted to replace the middle small diamond with a big one, she laughed this off too. No pins and clips. The rings in the middle finger in her right hand and another in index finger of the left weren’t there. She didn’t smell of coconut oil too. Mom told me later that her nose started bleeding after her death.
I saw her face for a few seconds, for the last time.
I felt as if she wanted to get up and say something.
My entire life with my grandma flashed in those two seconds. I think she wanted to tell me that she misses me already.
I have her spectacles with me all the time. That makes me believe she’s watching me. I also have her earrings; I still plan to get the middle small diamond replaced.
Death is strange. It makes the dead feel peaceful and the living painful.