The Horror That 2021 Is…

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I had written ‘lockdown’ posts in 2020. Lockdown 1, lockdown 2, lockdown 3, lockdown 4 and so on. These posts revolved around sanitizing milk packets, Maggi not being available in the market,  Zoom calls with family as boredom relief and complaining about doing housework without maids.

March 2020, my parents and so many other people their age received their first dose of vaccine. Maa Papa should stay home for another three months after getting the second dose, to be on the safer side. Sister should be able to visit from the US during niece’s summer vacation. I will start working from office….

The worst is over…This is what we all had thought.

Now, when I look back at my posts from 2020, I feel they were such a joke. What can we say of the past month and half? Numbers became people we knew. Covid hit home. And it hit hard.  People have died even when they did not have Covid. There are horror stories everywhere. In 2021, people just seem to die!  With the blink of an eye! Age is no bar. Fitness is not bar. People old and young have died.

I witnessed the first cremation of my life in February at my grandmother’s death. Yes, I was very  lucky to have seen something so devastating only at an ‘older’ age of someone old. But it has given me a whole new sense of perspective when I hear of someone’s death. Earlier I would think of the loss. The pain of not seeing your loved one ever again. The realization that you would never hear their voice, never hold them and never feel them again. The only way this nightmare would end is with your own death. Not anytime before that.

But now when I hear someone has died, and we are hearing so much now it’s almost unbelievable, the first thought that comes to my mind is that they have to deal with the ‘body’. Such a horrible term. Such a painful procedure. Such long rituals. Such empty 13 days or 4 days.

And yet to think that even that has become a privilege?

I watched the movie, ‘Ram Prasad Ki Terahvi’ and ‘Paglait’ recently. Both were good. My take here on the movies is death, nothing else. I don’t think any other movies have captured the ‘days that follow’. In Paglait, the mother talks about obtaining the death certificate of her son.  A death certificate of course has legal significance. But it is again such a painful thing – A piece of paper that states something so brutal. As if you don’t already know! The landscape of your entire life has changed! You do not need a piece of paper reminding you of it!

Back in February at the time of grandmother’s death, I was thinking that if someone dies, you should be able to close your eyes and not do anything for a long, long time. What you are getting is a lifelong punishment anyway. You should be allowed to shut your self down. There should not be any ‘body’, any rituals, any legal obligations, any funerals to be planned, any  anything. But then again, if you could wish for something, wouldn’t you wish that the death itself did not happen…

As a child, I went to a Catholic convent. We prayed before every ‘period’.   I was into the habit of praying before going to sleep at night. I prayed for the well-being of my family. My family was my father, mother, sister and me. I used to worry about my grandmother because she had to worry about so many people – her four children, their spouses, and their two kids each. Sixteen people is a lot to pray for!

I also had some concepts around death. Like if a whole family dies in a plane crash, that is not so bad. But if a person dies alone leaving behind a whole family that is bad. I used to reason that if at all there must be a concept of death, there should be some logic to it. Like people should die in families. Or there should be some pain / sadness threshold that should determine who should die. Bad people should die first. Death should make some sense!

I remember when I was very young, my father’s friend’s daughter (barely 14-15 years old) who went to my school died by suicide.   My father who visited the family the same day told me that Uncle looked so broken that he was afraid that Uncle may have a heart attack and die too. I immediately put my logic in place and thought that if the young girl and Uncle are both gone, how will Aunty and the other sister live? All of them should be gone… But wait.. what about the parents of Uncle and Aunty? Surely they should not be made to survive this? What about their siblings?

Someone has rightly said. Nobody dies alone.

People are changing jobs. People are getting married. People are having babies. I don’t know how any of that is happening. All I do is manage to get up in the morning, feel scared to look at my phone, skip a heartbeat when I receive any call or a message, somehow function through the day, pray before sleeping and go to bed only to have nightmares.

If there is a God, please have mercy!

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