"all life is no more than a match struck in the dark and blown out again"
A match, whose flame lighted up my world and gave me my name, was blown out today. And I can't help wishing it should have been me instead. My ambitions are simple; I am not the love of anyone's life, and I am not even a mother. You were needed more than me in this world. You were more loved. Yet your light was snuffed out today, leaving me broken. Cancer won. Ironically, on World Cancer Day.
Ba, I had seen the fragility of life at close range while working in the hospital. People die young, unexpected, and sometimes just when their dreams get realized, and no matter how much they are loved. I had known for long that the end was imminent, even though we never said it aloud; I also know that this end has relieved your suffering, yet nothing could prepare us for losing you.
Five years ago I was watching the movie Meet Joe Black, the one where death personified and visited a man's home, and it was few minutes to midnight when the phone rang and I was informed that my pehi had succumbed to a massive myocardial infarct; I never watched that movie again, somehow I associated it with the death. I don’t mourn about my aunt any more, but often remember that particular phone call at work, in the shower, while stuck in the traffic, any time. Once I was sitting at a Microbiology class, when I checked my phone at random and saw a text from my father, "Mini expired. Come home soon". She was a year older than me, and had stayed with us for more than a decade, ever since my father found her on a bus, running away from an abusive step-mother in some remote tea garden of Assam, and with nowhere to go. She became a part of our family, and was undergoing treatment at the hospital for a recently diagnosed brain tumour, dying a few days before her scheduled surgery. The year before you were diagnosed with cancer, you had called up to inform that your father was no more. Such news had always been sudden jolts of shock in my life, never had I seen a dear one go through a long period of suffering. Until you. You withered before our very eyes.
Four years ago when my father was diagnosed with sepsis and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome, and his survival depended on a miracle, given his age and co-morbidities. He was admitted in the ICU and later at the hospital ward for months. I had sat along with the attendants of other ICU patients, and there was a boy of my age, whose mother was recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke; he often talked to me of the signs of improvements his mother was showing. On a regular sleepless, tired, anxious night of waiting, the intercom buzzed announcing his mother's name and calling for her attendants. He went into the ICU, thinking it was another call to buy more medicines, but came back with the news that it was all over. And for the remaining days till my father's recovery, my heart stopped every time they announced his name in the ICU. Every day I see hopes cut short at the hospital, it is an inevitable truth of life and I accept that. But, no matter how calm, brave and resilient one is, and however prepared to receive bad news; it is always difficult to let go of a loved one.
It is tragic, even comic, how I am always in a rush, trying to beat time, putting off dreams till a convenient day, making plans, messing up priorities, so much to do, so much not done, always chasing the superfluous; much to the amusement of whoever is up there. What is the point of it all? But then, life doesn't stop at the fear of its inevitable end.
I had insomnia since the past few days, worrying about an exam result, which can be declared any day now. But these worries are laughable when it comes to the larger perspective of life, when I think about what you had gone through, what you must have felt at the unfair notice life gave you. No matter what happens tomorrow I feel the need to be thankful for each moment of working, reading, writing, spending time with my family, having a good home, of being alive. Not even a single moment is worth wasting over what could have been or what will be, who is in my life and who isn’t. Every moment should be savoured; love and laughter should reverberate every day; one should ensure a life worth living; because life gets snatched away from so many who deserved to have lived.
It has been just a few hours since you left us. Yet this sudden brush with mortality creates in me an irrepressible desire to feel alive; and that’s why I am writing now, writing for you. You found a love so real, simple and true; a love that surpasses all others that I had ever known. You brought into this world two lovely daughters, who make us proud every single day, by just being who they are. You had been a wonderful sister, daughter, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, friend; it is a blessing to have had you in our lives. You make me want to believe in afterlife and I hope you are in a happy place, wherever you are.
Ba, I won’t cry now, I am just relieved that your suffering had ended. But someday, I would see your number among the phone contacts, and knowing that your endearing voice would never answer at the other end would widen the gaping hole of your absence. It will remain for the rest of my life. Some losses just hang awkward, and permanent, amidst our thoughts; but then it is just the love we feel, isn’t it?
RIP Mayuri Sharma (Juku Ba).