On 19th Jan 2011.

I do believe in the entire universe conspiring to help you when you really want something (but not always. I hated these lines this August)… I find positive words and gestures very powerful and very comforting. Thank you for visiting the temple and for praying or thinking of a girl and a family you have never met or known. I have to believe that that is what changed how I felt as the day brought in emails, calls, comments, messages, a surprise book, precious posts wishing a girl known only online, and photographs I will cherish forever. Thank you doesn’t even begin to convey how I feel.

I have always believed in some supreme, kindly power watching over the world. I have never understood how this power allows a mother monkey to cling to the body of her dead baby or the human heart to feel so much pain for something it can’t change. It should have been natural to remember a child with a smile. I read a sad blog by a father who lost his son, Sanstav Paul in Dec 2008, he wishes, like I did, for some comfort, “Beta, if you think that we loved you so much then please come at least once (in my dream) to tell me that you are all right.”

I told my son, as we sat talking till late at night, that there should have been a rule that if the children die before the parents, they should appear in their dreams and say loving goodbyes to the parents. Son said, “They should appear in the siblings’ dreams also.

My mother didn’t call. She was the first person to hold Tejaswee 20 years ago. She never missed her birthday ever. My sister called her to find out how I was before calling me (when the melodrama-queen had spoken to me just the night before!) and they cried together. My mother told her she sees my grieving face all the time, everywhere. I asked her if that wasn’t too much. I could never be what I was, but I was fine. Grateful to be more ‘fine’ than I would ever have imagined.

My sister had once said she hated god when she heard my changed ‘hello’ over the phone. I had thought that was exaggeration too. I asked her if she still felt my voice sounded like a mother’s whose child had died. She burst into loud crying. Tejaswee was a lot like my sister. One morning we were rushing to drop her to school, as we got into the building lift, she looked at my face carefully and asked if I would like her to tell me where all I was getting wrinkled on my face. As we got out of the lift, a neighbour asked what I was laughing about and Tejaswee tried to shut my mouth, “Don’t tell!!” But I ‘told of course, and we teased her for her Sagittarius (ascendant) tactlessness.  So I told my sister what she said didn’t hurt because I could ask her to stop when it hurt and I knew she would.

My sister in law and niece chose to contribute to Tejaswee Rao Scholarship on her birthday. If you too would like to contribute please do  email me. Unfortunately it can’t be done online yet, but the cheque directly in the name of her college with ‘Tejaswee Rao Scholarship’ written behind the cheque would go into the fund/deposit the college has created for the scholarship.

And here’s how her cousin and his fiancee celebrated her life on her 20th birthday.

Dear Tejaswee,

It’s your birthday today and I wish you could be here to celebrate with us. Even though we can’t be together on this day, Sanda and I have decided to celebrate anyway, so we are going to have some yummy chocolate cake this evening and will also give some to the many stray dogs that live under our building (will post some pictures here!!). I am sure you would have enjoyed this and we wanted to let you know that you will be in our thoughts today and we hope we will be in yours.

Sending all our love and two big hugs,
Gaurav
Sanda”

When they cry.

Sat, 2nd Oct 2010

A friend called last evening. She was sobbing. She asked how I was. She said she read Tejaswee’s ‘A letter to the future‘ for the first time today… She excused herself to blow her nose and then again asked how I was. I remembered, when she had called the first time, she had said she had been scared of calling me and how much better she felt after speaking to me and then she had broken down herself. (I blogged about her once long ago.)

She said Tejaswee was just like me. I told her the likeness had bothered me sometimes, specially because recently we often said the same things together, like, “Isn’t it too hot for this time of the year…” or, “I think we should change these curtains…” and then she used to laugh and accuse me of ‘stealing/reading her thoughts‘. It was almost too much and it troubled me – maybe it made me superstitious in some way. It wasn’t just an odd time – but many times during a day. It had become very  frequent lately…

Oct 3, 5 12 am

Last evening we walked  down to a neighbourhood mall to buy a hard drive and to have dinner. Son, who finds evenings the most difficult time of the day, started asking his angry, tearful  questions.

“What would have happened if I had not seen her in the ICU that day…?

Why did someone like her have to die …?

“I don’t think it is good enough that I had 18 great years with her… why are people even born if they have to die so young…?

Having no other answers, my sister in law and I told him the story of Ganga drowning her seven children (from Mahabharata).  We also told him stories from ‘Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living from a Forensic Pathologist – Janis Amatuzio. I found this book very comforting – thanks for recommending it Shree. I had read, long ago about similar experiences in Reader’s Digest… wonder how many of us – if any, have had such experiences.

At home Gabbar Singh (Proton) senses immediately if I cry, he pushes himself close to me – and he too cries (softly moans)… How much does he understand?

We had these games, where I ask him to “Find Tejaswee! Where’s Tejaswee gone?“, where she hid behind a door or in another part of the house and he used to sniff the floor and the air, to excitedly look for her and locate her. There was much excitement and celebration, wagging and rolling on his back to celebrate the moment of ‘finding‘ her.

The dogs also rushed to the balcony every morning to enthusiastically ‘Say bye-bye to Tejaswee‘ when she left for college.

Here she was playing peek a boo with him this winter…

What is the best way to preserve digital images? I am thinking of storing all her pictures and videos in a single, new hard drive, I have heard that digital images are damaged with time, and CDs and DVDs are a better way to store them. Is that true?

Oct 4, Mon. 6: 05 am

Life now seems to be divided between easy and difficult days. On easy days I can hope, read, eat, think, sleep, talk and maybe even smile politely.

On difficult days everything seems meaningless. Now I look for ways to avoid triggers that cause difficult days… any changes are difficult. Being alone is very difficult. Coming unexpectedly across a scrap of paper with something written in a familiar handwriting in intensely painful on difficult days. Some parts of my brain seem to forget that no such new scraps will ever be created or else why does it hurt so much to find them? The brain might require to find countless such moments and memories to register this…

The thought that the kind of day I am going to have is not really in my control was frightening. I sensed this morning was going to be difficult – and decided to focus on making it easy. So I plan to write emails and posts and read up some more about how to stay positive. Recommendations for books and movies are also welcome. One of the recommendations is Saransh – I hope to watch it soon.

We are moving…

The packers are here. There was no choice but to go through Tejaswee’s stuff.  Although some of it should have made me smile like the letter she wrote to J K Rowling at 11… (will post it later) but maybe we are not  yet ready for it.

Son was angry and tearful and frightened, asking, ‘Why her?’ He said he saw a video on You Tube about the soul escaping by breaking a bullet proof glass. He also read Dr Brian Weiss’s ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’ and a forwarded message quoting from the Gita… he wants to believe she is there somewhere.

We had kept one room out of bounds for the packers. The dogs, the cat, our cellphones, keys and anyone who needed a break had a place. I entered the room to find my husband alone there, crying – for the first time. Are we doing the right thing by moving?

We are moving to be closer to family and friends. Husband will  have his family close by and also a place to take much needed and therapeutic long walks with the dogs.  Son will have his cousins and friends…  Our daughter lives in our hearts, leaving this house does not mean we are leaving her or her memories behind.

But crying helped him. Once the packers had left  at 9 pm (without finishing  packing) he was able to watch TV. He was able to sleep too.

Tejaswee’s friend shared this to be added to Friends’ Remember on her blog. She also promised to visit us in Gurgaon.

And then, late in the evening  an old, old friend, M called – I knew she was flying from Pune on the 4th, to spend the day with me. And we are moving tomorrow. I had forgotten. She said not to worry, she was going to help us pack and move.

Raksha Bandhan…

Raksha Bandhan was not celebrated in the traditional way at our place. Rakhis were tied and gifts were exchanged and both the kids were reminded to stand by each other all their lives, specially when we were no more.

Indyeah sent me this link yesterday - on Raksha Bandhan day. I made my son read it aloud… (Hugs Indyeah)

‘So often the death of a sibling is dismissed, unrecognized or even ignored. The assumption is that perhaps it is not as devastating… Yet, our siblings are one of the longest lasting relationships we will ever have.

Siblings define our past, are key in our “evolution” of our identity, and they know all of the intricacies of our families. Our siblings saw us in the best of times and in the worst. There is no other relationship like the sibling connection. In an instant your world changed when your brother or sister died. In an instant, your entire family changed forever.

The impact of losing a sibling has many layers and hits on many levels. You might feel guilt that you are the one that survived, you may feel confusion about what role you now play in the family, you may be angry that your family has changed so drastically, and the sadness you experience can be indescribable.

My daughter’s best friend A tied rakhi for Son today. A. knew how we celebrated Rakhi – how it meant siblings standing by each other and not brother ‘protecting‘ the sister. (Tejaswee joked about having to exchange gifts instead of only receiving gifts.) A favorite, older cousin (26)  took Son out for lunch after that. Yet another  dear cousin called from UK and  wished him… once again I am reminded that support from family and friends makes a tremendous difference. Thank You.

To read and smile when I am 64.

To read and smile when I am 64.

In 1996. (from my personal diary)

Sibling 1 has left her own Pepsi glass to look at Sibling 2’s Pepsi glass.

How much of yours is left?

I still have no idea why she wanted to know how much of his Pepsi was left.

He says this was because she knew she will finish hers and proceed to beg him for his.

She says she didn’t want to finish hers before he finished his.

Edited to add:

Alankrita asks. ‘Why 64?’

This is a better video…