of grief

I’ve told D a hundred times since the divorce – you’ll always be family to me. I’ve meant it every single time. I’m his family, whether or not he wants me to be.

I couldn’t think of a reason why I should be upset over the death of his mother (other than the fact that I lived with her for a few years), but I went anyhow. He needs his entire family around, I kept telling myself, even though he won’t say so.

My eyes welled up as soon as I saw a distant relative (a random one, not even someone I knew well) from across the road. As I got closer, other people shifted into focus. Bhaiya. Bhabhi. Didi. Mamaji. One of the other daughters-in-law, the one whose kid used to have an imaginary dinosaur as a pet. The four-year old kid who was so smitten with how I looked as a bride that she slept in our bed for the first few days, suddenly towering above a lot of elders, who had now begun to stoop. Everyone looked different.

I saw dad sitting in a corner with his hands folded, eyes closed, and head bowed, stoically listening to the hymns that were being sung. And then I saw D’s older brother, looking just like dad. I was surprised I never noticed the striking similarity when I lived in their home.

I heard murmurs. People were talking about how the ex-daughter-in-law had decided to show up. I avoided making eye contact for as long as I could, but I could feel the sides of my face burn with the attention. It was almost as though they were shocked that I came and were waiting for me to betray some emotion.

I think I did a pretty good job of staying stone-faced through the ceremony, but my walls crumbled the second the priest asked the family to step up.

I wanted to stand up but I couldn’t – I have considered myself family for ten years. I still call his father papa, his sister didi, and his brother bhaiya. I never stopped. I had been worried about his mother’s health for months before she finally passed. Why must I stop now?

Because the day I decided to leave D, I crossed some kind of invisible line out of that family.  

On my way home, it occurred to me.

She was nearly seventy when she had objected to the length of my knee length skirt. It was too short by her standards. I was late three nights every week.

She had pestered me about the undercooked onions so much that I pushed myself to learn to cook them perfectly. I now make the best baingan bharta Mister claims he’s ever had.

She tried to teach me how to make amla sherbet. I didn’t want to learn until one day, many years later, I was no longer living with her and I wanted to have some. I tried a recipe off the internet, but it never tasted as good.

She told me every time I pulled out a saucepan to make tea, wash it first. I got upset every single time because she never waited to see if I would wash it on my own. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t do it if she hadn’t told me.

She hated it when I bought a red bedsheet, one I thought she would like, for the diwan in the living room. It’s too bright, she had said, while she sat on the diwan, munching on muskmelon seeds. I stormed out of the room, convinced that she was being mean on purpose because she was sitting on a red bedsheet that she had bought. Years later, I exclaimed, ‘my eyes! my eyes!’ when Mister’s mom pulled out a bedsheet the exact shade of red.

When I got home, my eyes were burning with everything I had held back for two days. It’s been a week, and though still don’t really miss her, I am grieving.

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of missing silver linings

Mister’s moved to Bangalore for the next three months, and I feel like my whole life is changing, which is funny, because I always thought that there were only two things that I would consider life-changing experiences: marrying again and being alive during a zombie apocalypse.

I was completely wrong on the first count. (The other remains to be seen, but I think someone stuck in a zombie apocalypse might need to be able to at least use hold lift tools and have some hand-eye coordination.)

When I married Mister, nothing changed. I am exactly who I was before I married him (which he jokes about often because I still have my ex-husband’s last name). I eat all the same stuff, I wear all the same stuff, I say the exact same things (such as – I do not recommend marriage to anybody even though it works for me because let’s face it, my life is exceptional).

Yet here I am, feeling like my life has changed overnight. 

It’s not like we haven’t ever been apart before. He has been away on business a couple of times, and so have I. But there was always the knowledge that it was going to be a temporary separation – at most a week.

But this time, according to his boss his trip might get extended to four months, and I am unable to cope with that might.

After I saw him off at the airport yesterday, I drove back feeling like I was the only zombie in a zombie apocalypse. People were honking, cursing, overtaking – while I was just sulking and mechanically moving my feet on the holy Accelerator-Brake-Clutch trinity.

I spent most of the evening alone, locked up in my room, trying to tune out the silence. Next to me lay an unopened Canon 600D package that had been delivered in the morning, something I had been excited about for weeks, but I couldn’t even get myself to open it.

After a while I turned to the only thing that helped deal with the loneliness and the silence when I was married to my ex-husband – Heroes. it used to make me want to be more – it made me feel like maybe there was some purpose to my life after all. It chased the silence away.

So I put on the first episode, hoping that it would make me feel better, but I could comprehend nothing. And the silence was still there. Had Mister been home, he’d be watching it with me, his head in my lap. And there would’ve been quips about how Mohinder is a Punjabi name but the character seems South Indian. He would’ve found at least one fault with every single character.

I lost track. Then I decided to write. I sat for a while with the New Post page up on my screen, and my finger poised mid-air for the longest time. I couldn’t even write!

I just kept nibbling on whatever I could find and waiting for Mister’s flight to land so I could hear his voice again.

When he finally called, the distant-ness of his voice left me feeling worse than before. I just wanted to hang up. Has that ever happened to you? When you know something is inevitable, do you wish it would happen sooner rather than later?

Today, I’m at work, feeling like I’m socially and emotionally crippled. I am snapping at everything that moves and dropping/slamming/throwing everything that doesn’t.

I generally am an advocate of things can only get better from here, but today I just can’t see the silver lining – just a really dark cloud looming over my head. It feels like one of my body parts is missing and I can’t do a damn thing about it. 

Have you ever felt this way about someone? Do changes ever make you feel like your whole life has come to a standstill? Do you think I’m crazy and completely overreacting? Is it unnatural for me to feel this way?