Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Death in the Family

Dimma (my maternal grandma) died around 5.10 pm on Sunday morning. Ma called me up early in the morning. Having received news that Dimma had lapsed into a coma, she said she'd be leaving within a couple of hours for Panagarh (of the military base fame) where Dimma had been staying with my mejomashi (my middle aunt) for the last few years. Because of my back problem , I needn't go over and stay at Salt Lake. My parents-in-law were away in North Bengal, so I couldn't have shirked my responsibilities here in any case. All I needed to do was check from time to time whether everything was ok with Mitu (my sibling) since Ma doesn't have much faith in my father's sense of responsibility when it comes to family (he's a doctor, so you get the drift). She said she didn't expect Dimma to live beyond that day or at the most, the day after. I called her again around 2 pm, and she said that she'd just reached mashi's place. Dimma, too weak and physically incapacitated, couldn't possibly be removed to a hospital, so a doctor had been called over. Other relatives had come over and there was a tangible sense of impending gloom. I said I'd check on her again later, in that case.

We were supposed to go over that evening to Salt Lake to my parents' place. Baba was attending a seminar at the Hyatt and there was a cocktail dinner at the Rowing Club to round it off that night. Mitu would probably not feel like attending the event if we guys weren't around, so I persuaded K, explaining the logic . (We had had Rashi and Saugata sleeping over the previous night and had had a whole lot of rich food in this sultry weather, so he didn't really feel like partaking of some more of the former at the invitation in question.) We had just taken a nap and I was sitting on the bed, contemplating whether to make tea first or decide what to wear when Ma called.

Some intuition told me that Ma's calling at that particular point of time did not augur good news. I remember K's puzzled look when I kept on staring at the mobile screen and then turning to him and telling him in a lame, lost way that it was Ma calling. Eventually, I must have answered the call for I could distinctly hear Ma's voice sounding strangely and unnaturally clear, telling me that Dimma had 'just' passed away. Her matter-of-fact voice injected stupor into me, for I can't remember anything of what she told me after that. There was already wetness on my cheeks and along the sides of my nose and somehow, in between all of this, I was lying down, turning my face away from K because I was conscious of this being a moment of personal loss, something he could not possibly understand, empathise or sympathise with. It was something that was intensely personal, a bereavement that would mean different things to different people but somehow, none of our emotions would be the same. There would always be a difference, because I was mourning at the shrine of my own personal existence, grieving for one whose birth had inevitably predestined mine. I was reliving family, blood ties, shared memories. Somehow, in those few moments, I felt like Ma was no longer just a mother, I was no longer just her daughter. We had been promoted by an entire generation.

But we could have done without it.

Dimma, I'll miss not having you around. Memories are not a very good substitute for the physical presence of a person, are they ?

1 comment:

The Ketchup Girl said...

Heartfelt condolences casuarina. Tc.


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