Brat Three – Questions about death.

When we flew home with Brat Three the first time in July 2012, she stood looking outside the window, asking an odd question and looking outside, very calm, very well mannered and very quiet. Quite unlike her real self.

Then, this June we flew to Baghdogra and I realised how much more comfortable and ‘herself’ she had become. She laughed aloud at the take-off and then had endless questions about everything she saw.   Clouds from the planeAnd then she asked,

Tejaswee kahan hai? Main itnee der se clouds mein dekh rahee hoon, mujhe to kaheen naheen dikh rahee. Maybe she is behind that cloud, in that hole.”

(Where is Tejaswee? I am looking for her in these clouds but I can’t see her anywhere.”) sky, cloudsThis June, while searching online for a school project, we found dolls’ furniture, and hoping it would keep her occupied during the long, long days of the summer vacations, we decided to try making some. Didn’t realise how much she would love this bed… or maybe what she loved was the process of the making of the doll’s bed.

She was so happy that she was worried. 2013-06-29 07.56.14 DollBed.jpg.14 “Jab aap mar jaogee to aap upar clouds mein chalee jaogee, phir aap wapas meri friend ban ke aa jaana to mein khush ho jaooungee.”

(When you die, you will go up, up in the clouds. Then you must come back as my friend, then I will become happy again.)

Tejaswee

Another time.

“Why have you hung Tejaswee’s big pictures on the wall here?”

“Because I miss her…  she is not here with us.”

“Don’t you miss me? Put my pictures, big pictures.”

“You are here. We are all here… we can hug and hold each other…”

“When she comes back then you remove her photos and put my pictures.”

We have talked about death and attempted to talk about cells, heart (with a You Tube video) and breathing and ‘not feeling anything anymore’, about ‘going up’ and about ‘never coming back’, but how do we explain what we don’t want to or can’t understand? 

I gave her a hug. “She will never come back Brat Three.”

“Sometimes it can happen, sometimes she can come back.” (She says the same thing about the Delhi Metro, “Sometimes there can be 5 coaches in the metro.” Or, “Sometimes Sunday can come again after Monday.”)

“If she comes back, she will herself remove her photographs and put your photographs up here.”  

Tejaswee2

Related Posts:

Two conversations with Brat Three

Why this?

Learning with Brat Three.

Brat Three learns to argue, insist and convince.

Brat Three loves Sher Khan and Sher Khan loves Brat Three.

Introducing a new family member.

Who likes mangoes?

On 19th Jan 2013.

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Helping a family coping with child loss.

I am publishing my response to this comment as a post in the hope that it is read by those who need it. Please feel free to ask if you wish to help someone who has lost a loved one, and are not sure what  to say. I will do my best to help.

Question: I totally understand that you now and you before will not be same. My aunt is in same situation sans she does not think that logically on the process of grieving and she is surrounded by many people who wants her to be ‘normal’ specially because she has another child to look after.

IHM: There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but having support, not being judged and not being ‘expected’ to behave in any manner can make it easier.

Crying, not crying, eating, not eating, talking, not talking, not wanting to meet anyone, wanting to be surrounded by sensitive listeners are all fine.

It’s very difficult to be logical when you are going through something as illogical as a child’s death. Many people who are asking a grieving parent to be logical might also say, ‘If this  happened to me I would go mad.’

The loss is too big for a parent to remain the same.

Question: This upsets my Aunt and she feels guilty for not being there fully for her second child. How is your son? Do you talk with each other about Tejaswee? How does he cope with the vacuum in his life?
IHM: We talk about Tejaswee and how we are dealing with our loss, in the initial months my son showed me You Tube videos on the existence of soul and trailers of movies about death of a sibling (Cloud St Peter, The Lovely Bones, others). But if one of us does not want to talk, we respect that.

We read books about grief, we maintained journals of what we were feeling, but many times we didn’t read what the other had written because even that was painful.

Children also grieve.

I realise we are not the way we were, parents change towards surviving children, we have become less hassled by things which might bother other parents, the feeling now  being that we really don’t know what  happens tomorrow. He is encouraged to do what he enjoys doing…

We have phases of being fully there, and then being overwhelmed by grief. With time, we are being there  for him more and more… but it definitely took time. I don’t think grieving can be hastened, think of it like a horrible illness, because the pain is severe and disabling. So, instead of asking the parents to ‘focus on the positive’ or to ‘focus on the surviving children’, the biggest support relatives can give is help them care for their surviving children (the way they would have if both the parents had been physically ill). This is what helped us through.

I remember telling my sister in law that our son lost his parents along with his sister. He has  changed unbelievably, he used to be the baby of the house, generally clowning and irritating her, so much that she made videos of him rapping to annoy her, while she is trying to study…

My brother in law took over his studies almost entirely; my sister in law told our cook that even if she made khichdi for us (we couldn’t eat anything, so we drank a khichdi kind of gruel in tea cups, for many months) she must make complete meals for him. We had moved close to where they live, and she sent over anything special cooked at their place, in case we’d like to have some too.

No pressure or blame, but accepting that we were in too much pain to see anything else.  The parents do realise they are not able to be the kind of parents they would like to be their other children, it’s better to realise that in time they would be able to care for them, but not like they did in the past, it would be a different normal.

In our case, it’s a more easy going parenting now, more flexibility, more acceptance… The parents would benefit from reassurance that until they feel upto it, they have support from relatives/friends (same as in case of severe physical illness).  It’s cruel to ask them to focus on their surviving children when they are in so much pain that they can’t. Like, would we ask an accident victim screaming in pain to think about the good things in his/her life? Child loss is much worse. You can’t think beyond your loss, and those who are going through it want the pain to stop. Memory might be affected, physical health problems and faster aging might happen.

We couldn’t attend weddings or functions in the family, but always, one of his cousins picked and dropped our son; my sister in law suggested we shop for him and came along to help us do that (this was many months later). The 13th day after Tejaswee’s death, was raksha bandhan, his feelings were nowhere in my mind, only the horror of Tejaswee’s death was, but Tejaswee’s friend tied him rakhee, and a cousin took him out.

Some points:

The only way to help is to be there for them, in the way they need you to be there.

Don’t ask them to focus on the positive. They will eventually, when they can, there is no other way to survive, but it can’t be hastened.

Don’t tell them they have other children to think of, they  know that anyway.

Avoid giving advice or judgement. Don’t compare them to other grieving parents you have seen.

They may talk about the death, repeating the same things.

Some parents like to talk about their child (I do) some can’t bear to talk about their child.

The one time I couldn’t bear to be alone was after my daughter died, but it’s fine if someone does want to be left alone.

Respect their wishes. Know that they have no control over how they are feeling. They are going through the worst thing that could happen to them.

Related posts:

The right way to grieve.

She would have been 21 today and I miss her.

I have no words, just thanks to all who remembered Tejaswee today. This year is easier than the last one, so I am sure it does get better. My mother is with me and her constant attempts to cheer me (joking, talking about everything but what’s in her mind and mine) upset me and then I sat her down and read out from some of my earlier posts about there being no right or wrong way to grieve. I told her it was okay for me to not laugh or be able to focus on anything sometimes. I also assured her that I was much better but she really needed to accept that I was not and could not be the same daughter she had before her grand daughter died, but that did not mean I was always crying. I told her I actually laughed aloud when I read Tejaswee’s letter to J K Rowling, and how I will never forget the wonderful life we had, and the amazing memories we have now. I told her I didn’t need to forget Tejaswee.
She says she understands but everything she does conveys she wants everything to be ‘normal’. I tried to make her see that it didn’t harm me to acknowledge that I was thinking of  my daughter on the most special day of my life and hers (and every single other day).

My deepest gratitude to the blogosphere and the internet for keeping me sane during the toughest time in my life.

This portrait by Midhun Kumar made me feel I was not the only one remembering her today.

From this photograph by Divesh,

Thank You.

Last year, these days.

Last year on 27th July I had commented on Bhagwad’s blog about a nightmare I once had. After writing a long comment describing the nightmare I had read it out to Tejaswee who agreed that it didn’t make sense to describe the entire nightmare where I was alone in a dimly lit house, extremely sad, thinking about her who had been dead for a while and I had been wishing (just like we do when we are awake) that her death was a nightmare. And I had hugged her lightly and grumbled about why I remembered that horrible nightmare. Two days later the nightmare had started unfolding in real.

These days are difficult and what we were doing last year is very clear in memory. A part of me feels not talking about it is better because once we start talking it is difficult to distract ourselves with something else. But I also don’t want to not remember and it’s only getting more difficult each day. On 29th Tejaswee had come back from college and complained about how boring it was to not live inside a complex, and then a friend, G had called.

(G was her room mate in the PG where she stayed until we moved to Delhi, and had moved out after she had contracted dengue in 2009. I always thought Dengue was like Malaria, I had worried about Swine Flu.) G asked her if she would like to go with her to M Block Market and I told Tejaswee she had got her wish and that her  life need not be boring even if we did not live inside a complex. She had taken her blue bag and much later I found the receipts of what they ate and bought in the market on her last healthy, happy evening.

Later that evening she started having very high fever, very suddenly.

On 20th, last week, Son remembered she had danced in the rain in her college and he feels that was when dengue started. I didn’t even want to think about this. And many times I manage to successfully focus on other things, like the fitness regime for the Manali to Leh Bicycling Expedition (A doctor I consulted with said six months, not two and half months would have been better to prepare for such an expedition, but that I should continue exercising and go).

An old friend called, when she called last she had compared me to other parents who have lost their children and ‘moved on’, this time she said the way I said Hello on the phone had changed, she felt we could no longer talk like we did in the past, that I was a different person now. I tried to explain why it was not possible to be the same person. Did she understand that it was not just the loss that hurt but the experience of watching her die, and not being able to comfort her and keep her alive. She did, but she wanted everything back to normal. What I liked was that she thought that was possible.

One of the things that has changed is the realization that the entire universe does not really conspire to make our wishes come true. Suddenly one could see that there was something wrong with the theory of a benign, loving creator always taking care of their creations. I had stared at the night sky outside the ICU and willed the universe/creator to do something… And yet there was this desperation to be convinced that she is still there is some form somewhere, and that we will meet again.

I want her to be there around me in some form and one way is to talk about her (which I am able to do, not about her death, but her life.) A very dear young woman I have never met (and who has never met Tejaswee!) writes regularly to me, and she recently wrote about wanting to join the college Tejaswee went to, and then later about seeing her name in the college prospectus – where Tejaswee Rao Scholarship was mentioned. I can’t appreciate her emails and emails from friends in the blogosphere enough.

Words can change how we look at anything. Another blogging friend asked if we were planning to do something on Tejaswee’s  death anniversary and I wrote back completely believing that these days would be spent just trying not to relive what we had no control over.  I am grateful to him for suggesting we do something in her memory instead.

So I would like to announce Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards. Please click here to submit your entries, do take care to submit them in the correct categories.  The winners in each category will be announced  around end-September.

Two entries that the judges feel should be read by as many people as possible will win cash prizes. (Will announce the details at the earliest).

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

This morning I woke up with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still not fully awake, I lay wondering what caused it. My mind, unbelievably, still in our life before Aug 2010. And then I realized (or woke up fully). Tejaswee. I tried to think what made this morning more difficult than other mornings, and then I knew.

I had opened Tejaswee’s laptop for the first time yesterday. It look a long time and many tries before I could remember the password. There was nothing new on her laptop actually, except that it was hers. Most of yesterday was spent going through photographs and videos not seen for a long time.

And hearing her voice after months.

Here she is with her favorite turquoise bracelet, also seen in the header and on the sidebar.

How easy it was to take for granted on 12th October 2009 that the child who sat on the kitchen counter, modeling her newest shopping, chattering endlessly, while I added tarka to her favorite dal, was going to be with us all our lives.

I am reading ‘When life changed forever‘ the author says, life was not meant to be predictable or planned, anything might change at any moment. And that the death of a child changes the parents forever. Accepting that we will never be what we were, might make it easier to live with our changed selves. I am realizing that some of the changes are subtle. Some changes come slowly as the realization sinks in. Maybe some of the changes are reversible. But this much is true, now we have two lives, our life before Aug 11, 2010 and this life after Aug 11, 2010.

Ricky Taylor says,

“Our friends and family, and we ourselves, wanted us to get back to ‘normal’. But ‘normal’ had been fiendishly changed….

But it also became very obvious to us that what he had thought of as ‘normal’ was phantom. It existed only in our minds. The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning…”

The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning...’
I don’t know how to see that. Sounds positive if one didn’t consider what one has lost.

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

2011… and an unbelievable dream.

This new year is like none before. There’s still a wish that I will wake up tomorrow morning to find that the second half of the 2010 never happened. I am sure we are recovering in some ways but they say a child’s death changes you. How much have we changed? I have lost all my fears and worries. What bothers most people (and me earlier) doesn’t matter anymore. And somethings which others might find trivial have become a matter of survival.

Festivities are a painful time. A child’s birthday is now a day both cherished and dreaded. New year eve has no meaning. And one wakes up every morning hoping this day begins easier. I have learnt it helps to avoid whatever and whoever causes pain. This too has become a matter of survival.

Avoiding triggers is not always easy. The biggest trauma triggers are  claims that  another hospital, a different treatment or another set of doctors could have saved Tejaswee’s life. One near stranger asked questions and  although I knew where I was treading, I talked about the treatment and symptoms and illness. And then relived it all that evening.

A friend said that she tried but could not imagine herself in my position. She said even thinking about something happening to her child was just too horrible. Why did it hurt me? It was (and still is) unimaginable for me too. If it wasn’t I would have said goodbye to her when doctors said only a miracle could save her…

Sometimes some people are only expressing how they feel, but I am pushed into days of unbearable lows.

My sister says sometimes I look and sound so ‘normal‘ that it is difficult to remember how fragile the normalcy is. She says it is difficult to know what the right thing to say is. (The answer to this is, when in doubt, just be a good listener and give no unasked for advice. This requires another post.). She remembered how she had called me this September and upon hearing my “Hello” burst into tears saying the emptiness in my voice reminded her of a friend who had lost her daughter five years ago. She said death of a child did that to mothers. I didn’t want to live for five years if what she said was true.

I had reminded her (and myself) that I hoped to remember my daughter with a smile and although I am learning this is not always easy, I am still working on it. Our life has changed and happiness, as we saw it earlier, is no longer a part of this new life.

And yet something happened that brought peaceful joy and happy-sad tears at the same time.

At around 5 am on 3rd Jan, I dreamt of my daughter. She wore her gray sweater and she was smiling. I saw myself holding her close and telling her I had missed her so much because I never got to tell her how much I loved her (and hear the same from her) one last time before she died. No hugs. No reassurances. No idea how she was feeling or if she was feeling anything at all.  No idea, even that we were not going to be walking out together from that ICU. And she smiled with sweet (no other word describes it) understanding, held my face and said she loved us very much and I hugged  her tight and we sat and talked and I think (this bit is hazy) took photographs together.

It was a long dreamlike dream. I told her, after this time spent with her, I could now live with her dying and going away forever. And she smiled sweetly, half teasingly, at my comfortable mention of her death. (I didn’t discuss their death with my kids, fearing, sort of, that talking about death might make it happen. She always thought it was okay to talk about our loved ones dying.) As it happens in dreams, I could hear her thoughts, and she thought (conveyed) she was going nowhere. And I knew in this dream that she had died. And yet the feeling of peace stayed.

I woke up and fearing I might forget parts of this precious dream, shared every detail with my husband. He still relives her time in the ICU when trying to sleep, but for two nights after this dream, he has slept peacefully.

This is another way in which we have changed, …or maybe not changed. Her smile, even in a dream, doesn’t fail to provide hope and strength.  And a reason to remember her always with a proud, loving smile.

The right way to grieve.

Some days have been so bad that it was impossible to do or feel anything but pain. Nothing mattered. A friend said maybe I was in shock earlier and she suggested I don’t avoid this pain. This is what I don’t understand – am I avoiding  the pain? How does one avoid the pain? I don’t think I have any control over this. I don’t cry much but the possibility of any more pain is  very  frightening. I have read that ‘there is no normal way to grieve‘, but still it worries me to read, (in ‘SOME THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS DIED‘)

•    Grief Waits. If you put it away and try to ignore it, it will simply wait until you have no choice but to experience it.

•    We grieve as intensely as we love.

•   You will never be the same person you were before your loss.

I can agree with this… but it will be a while before the changing will stop. Till then there is some confusion, we have kept some decisions on hold for six months to a year, because I am not sure how I feel.

One of the friends who visited me said I was handling it much better than another mother she knew. This mutual acquaintance had lost her only son in an air crash, he was training to be a pilot. I had met them years ago when we used to take our kids to the same park every evening and I remember a good looking, smart and sensitive 8 year old.  I remember the proud mother, even then she was very close to  the son. The friend said she had seen how ‘badly’ the mother “handled it from day one“. Friends advised her to ‘get over it’ and to ‘move on‘ … Now I wish I could meet this mother (and I will, she lives in the NCR).

I wish we had more awareness about Grief Counseling and we understood the difference between Grief, Complicated Grief and Depression and how to help with each. Here’s something I agree with,

Avoid Judgment. “You should …….”, “You shouldn’t ……” are not appropriate or helpful.

Everyone grieves differently and therefore the grief process should not be rushed.

Some parents will be “fine” and then experience deep grief a year or two later; others grieve immediately.

There are no standard timetables for recovery.

Encourage bereaved families to be patient with themselves.

“Get on with your life.” “Aren’t you over it yet?” “It’s time to put it behind you and move on.” Those demands are unfair and unrealistic.

I wish more of us understood that :-

•    There is no “normal” in grieving.

•    There are no set-in-concrete stages or timelines in grief.

•    It is typical to feel almost numb for the first few months. When that “fog” lifts, it can be very frightening.  Think of it as a wave and ride it out.

I have read (and experienced) that the grief of child loss feels like drowning – you go down and you come up gasping for air and then you sink again, but slowly you can hope to have longer moments to breath.

•   Talking to and being with other bereaved parents is extremely helpful.

•    Other people will not understand your grief unless you share it.

•    It is okay to talk about your child as long as you want.

But it is difficult to find someone who would listen, so sharing with The Compassionate Friends helps. Here when we share our story, we feel better and we let another parent know thatThe grief journey is long, but they need not walk alone.

Abhilasha sent me this,

“Read about grief and shock. Learning about the symptoms that others have experienced helps you know you are normal and not going crazy when your grief is so deep and your pain so intense that you can hardly see two feet in front of you because of the fog of agony that surrounds you.

A friend said Buddhism believes that Death should be talked about as a fact of life – because this is the only thing in this world that is certain. It helps if we accept the ‘Eternal Law’ that everybody who is born is going to die.  I wanted to hear more about this and she requested Anand (from SGI, Soka Gokkai International) to meet us.  Anand visited us and discussed how each one of us has  a reservoir of strength within us – how each one of us is capable of finding  this strength and wisdom within us. About how it is not possible to control what life gives us – but we can control how we react to it. We do have the choice to be elevated and strengthened, or to be broken by our biggest loss.

And yet there are days when I don’t care if I am broken and life seems meaningless. Nothing matters. After reading  experiences of others who have been through the same pain on The Compassionate Friends – I realised it’s normal to feel this way. In fact Darcie D. Sims said ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

Even during the worst moments browsing through links (Thanks for  sending those…) that support parents who are grieving helps immensely.  One reads about other parents who feel the pain one is feeling. Nobody else can understand the pain and nothing else helps as much.

A 19 year old girl Jyoti died of Dengue on 11th Sept, in Artemis, Gurgaon. (Hindustan Times, Gurgaon edition, page 4). No other details were provided and calling the hospital didn’t help. I wanted to meet the parents.

We have initiated the registering of a ‘Tejaswee Rao Memorial Trust’. Will keep you updated.

I have ordered ‘The year of magical thinking‘ through Flipcart.

KEY POINTS ABOUT GRIEF


•    Grief is a universal response to significant loss.

•    Grief is extremely powerful.

Understanding the process and knowing what to expect can help you cope.

•    The worst kind of grief is the grief you’re experiencing now.

•    Grief work is very hard and takes enormous energy.

•    How grief is expressed varies among individuals.

•    Certain manifestations of grief are common and normal.

•    Grief is a lifelong process.

•    Grief changes through the years.

•    Death may have ended your loved one’s life, but it did not end your relationship.

•    Time does not heal grief; it’s what we do with the time that matters.

•    Effective grieving is not done alone.


– Marty Tousley CNS-BC, FT, in Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year

Where do they go away?

Just an old man crossing the road, shopping bags in hand, hesitating in front of the car,

Made my eyes fill up.

I wanted to walk with him while he crossed the road

He had to be more than 74.

Men more than 74 do live.

They shop, they walk.

They nag their children.

They call them all the time asking them to Google the new medicine they have been prescribed.

They trust their children more than the specialists.

Or they look for excuses to call them.

They call to ask if their married-and-mother-of-two daughter had got back home safely after her first drive on the highway.

They always have the answers.

They know what to do, when the steering wheel is jammed…

Once he called and mentioned some pain.

When he didn’t sound annoyed when I showed concern, I should have guessed.

But I never thought.

The calls reminded me to be more regular with the gym, not to inherit carelessness.

They force their daughters to get a paper and pen and write down the names of their great grandparents.

The ones who had to leave Kashmir in a hurry

Of a great grand mother who brought her baking skills and mouth watering recipes with her from there,

For a forever hungry grandson

Who years later, when he has restrictions on his diet,

Would describe to a non-foodie daughter

The huge oven in which she rolled arbi leaves

And stuffed them with …

I have forgotten what the stuffing was,

And now there is no one to tell me.

He had talked of how he had run after the tonga carrying his mother away, at the age of five…

All those December holidays when I had the first choice of New Year diaries and calendars

In exchange of copying all the addresses from the last year’s diaries

I continued to do this all my life;

Later I had to check his hotmail account,

And respond to his emails, response dictated over the phone

I did it out of habit,

I thought it was just a continuation of a chore I had done all my life…

I didn’t notice how I had never before checked his mail, only updated his address books.

I once chatted on MSN Messenger with my siblings pretending to be dad,

Who thought then why he had difficulty writing his own mail?

When he and his walking friend,

Like two little boys, tried making Grilled Fish in their never used microwave,

Me dictating the recipe over the phone

They made an absolute mess, finally eating a home delivered dinner of grilled fish and French fries 🙂

My vegetarian mom disapproved.

but I delighted in and defended his love for food.

He held ice cream eating competitions amongst the grand children.

How do you think of such a person as old?

When I locked the car keys inside the car,

On a hot summer afternoon, in a new city, feeling lost

He showed me how to open the lock with a 6″ scale, on the cell phone.

Once in South Extension a cow had come running, chased by someone.

And I screamed,

Dad came in between, as expected, as taken for granted that he would…

So wasn’t it natural that I never noticed he was aging?

Not even when I opened a Flickr account for him,

And loaded his collection from his young Photography Club days.

He said

You think you will keep me alive like this?

And I laughed, “What  a nautanki-party we are  Papa!”

I was reassuring him, because it’s all a state of mind,

If you think you will live – you will live.

But we read about how we fool ourselves the fastest?

It’s true.

He wanted to talk about his younger years…

He wondered if the way we didn’t know of our great grandparents, maybe my grand children will never hear of  him…

He was thinking of death.

And I told him some grandparents are never forgotten.

I told him what his grand children thought of him, how he was their hero..

I know I was always there,

There when he spoke so often of death.

Of friends no more.

When his sister died, he said she was younger.

He asked if it was going to be his turn next.

He was laughing I thought. I never thought he meant it.

I teased him about how many ice creams he would eat at my daughter’s wedding.

I wasn’t comforting, I believed that.

He called all the time,

He called when friends visited, while I shopped, drove, attended PTAs …

He knew what I cooked each day

And complained about how my mother won’t let him eat forbidden Butter Chicken or Gajar Halwa.

Or he’d call to say, like a naughty child,

How he ate salted, fried cashew nuts he wasn’t supposed to

Delighting in sincere concern!

He who was too proud to tolerate sympathy,

And he who had never any patience with advice,

Would discuss in detail my ideas of how to eat healthy but tasty sweets…

And yet I didn’t see the changes.

His talk of his childhood,

Of his regrets

And his pride,

And the things he gave up to raise us well…

His photography, rowing, athletics, horse riding, dramatics, reading and writing…

And I listed out which of his grandchildren had inherited which,

Especially the youngest who can eat without pause.

No regret there, I know I was always there,

And it was not out of any sense of duty.

So I heard his delighted laughter, at the mention of the youngest grandchild… while loading the washing machine.

I asked for advice while shopping for electronics

I called him when asked to pay a fine (He said throw the money on his face.)

I complained about Indian schools

And discussed Lalu’s Railway Budget and Cricket…

But I never got to say good bye.

Now that he is not there, I can see so much more of him,

In all that is missing.

I got a call from Reliance Communications, asking if I had some problem with the service.

I thought it was a sales call, but then she said,

“You’ve not been using the phone, ma’am.”

 

(This post started as a post about my mom, about how she was coping without dad, in response to Solilo’s beautiful post about senior citizens.)

Can Cactus inside the house cause death?

I am almost never superstitious. I don’t believe anything not scientifically proven. Don’t believe in ghosts, have always doubted Ayurvedic medicines, I take Astrology with a pinch of salt, ditto for Vastu, Feng Shui etc.
I read this article many years ago, in Delhi in The Times of India. This article on vastu said “Keeping cactus and succulents inside the house brings death to someone in that house.” I was annoyed. How do they allow such rubbish to be published. ” He talks about death so simply, it’s going to put people off some beautiful indoor plants, frighten them…” I muttered, “Didn’t Preeti have such a beautiful collection of cactus…” And then I froze. Preeti, two years my junior, had died in a freak accident a few years ago – she fell from her balcony while leaning out to wave at her husband. She had gifted me some cactus from her beautiful, collection, but my cactus did not survive. There could be no link, silly superstition, I thought. But the next time I visited a nursery and admired a tiny yellow pot of ‘kiss me quicks‘, I did not buy them.
This November my neighbours lost their 23 year old son. They had locked the house in a hurry when they heard of the accident in Bombay and were in no condition to come back home, alone, when he died soon afterwards. Then, one day, their relative came to collect some documents from their locked house and asked if I could take care of their indoor plants since they had no idea when the grieving parents would be back. I asked my mali (gardener) to bring their potted plants out so they could be watered and weeded along with my plants. He did that. Imagine my horror when I noticed the next morning that five amongst their plants were various varieties of cactus.
I did not take good care of these cactus, pushed them as far away from our houses as possible, but they have survived. I may be wrong. How can any plants inside or outside your house indicate death?
Last week when they came back, they collected their plants. They have taken the cactus inside their house again. How do you tell a grieving mother to throw away her cactus…or at least leave them outside her house?