Reshaping Experiences

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Haruki Murakami, in his novel ‘Norwegian Wood’, says – Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of it. I did not realize its meaning until I experienced my grandmother’s demise. My maternal grandma left all of us when I was in high school. My mother used to call her Amma and adding chorus to her tune, me and kins called her Amma as well.

Amma was a sweet and short old lady who barely reached my shoulder when I grew taller in my teenage years. Her face was canvassed in wrinkles that used to carry immense wisdom in her eyes behind those vintage round glasses. She hailed from a community of outcasts who were not allowed to aim high, yet she dared to crawl out of their reach and dreamed big. Amma single-handedly nurtured an entire family of hers both physically as well as ethically, spiritually. She was a woman of respect. She did not inherit these values, instead flourished these on her own which she further continued to pass on to the younger ones which went on about as fuel to smolder our well-being even now. She raised morally responsible children and even inspired my mother to stand on her own feet and live with pride. With her diligence and determination, she successfully won a spot in the pantheon of our culture. 

Speaking about my relationship with her, it was/is sweet as nectar. I had her back consistently. Dissimilar to others she never asked me what I was up to or what my future plans were. She used to say, “Do what truly moves you and if nobody will uphold you in any period of your life, do not worry since I’ll be there for you through thick or thin. Period!.” 

Time passed on, her health dwindled. Our tête-à-têtes diminished and eventually stopped. She became bed-ridden. As my mother’s neighborhood was not the same as where we lived contemporary, we used to visit her during my days off. My mother visited her often, but due to my own routine, I couldn’t meet her for days. 

One unusual day, as I returned from school I got to know that she took her last breath earlier that day. I never had experienced the death of a close one before, I was crestfallen. I cannot forget how annihilating it felt as if someone kept something heavy on my chest.

Coming to this day, there is no Amma but only her memories that are worth reminiscing. I feel how the loss of a beloved one is irreplaceable. Just like Haruki said death is an innate part of life, I can’t help but accept this truth. 

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