Do You Ever Realize It’s Not Getting Better?

There was a time when I would open WordPress, write a post in fifteen minutes, not think about how it made me look, and enjoy the process. Writing feels like a job now. I’ve already edited these two sentences seven times. When did everything become so strenuous?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that this blog chronicled my life, and after a lot of rants, I became too conscious of sharing my miserable life here. Who would want to read about the girl who always complains? But I realized that I didn’t start this blog for others to judge but for me to let it all out, to navigate through tough times. I wrote because it was too difficult not to. Although, when I think about the times, nine or seven or five years ago, life was much better. I didn’t know it then, but those were the good times. I never imagined such a downward trajectory in life. Who does?

The past seven months have been harsh. Who hasn’t suffered in this raging pandemic? I mean, families have been destroyed, kids orphaned, economies destroyed. 2020 was rough, and after that, I was waiting for 2021 to be better. I turned thirty this year, and seriously I was looking for my twenties to get over. I was sick of that decade. I so wanted to be thirty and start a life, and I was waiting for a miracle. Instead, I only got more challenges.

Mum has been in and out of hospitals many times in the past few months. Every time I took her to the emergency ward, I was almost sure that she wouldn’t survive. Two heart failures and a head injury plus the constant fear that we would get covid, so many days spent at hospitals fearing the worst, it was the most challenging time of my life.

All Alone.

Saving my mum has become the sole aim of my life. And the circumstances of the past few months have made my life miserable.

I am the sole caregiver of my old parents, and it is in no way an easy task. I don’t remember the last time I interacted with a person my age face to face. Thanks to covid, we can’t go anywhere. The only time I’ve spent away from my parents was this two-day trip I took to Jaipur for some exam. My anxiety shoots through the roof every evening because my mum had both her attacks at night. You can’t forget those desperate times when your loved one starts saying what she believes are her last words to you.

May was the worst month of all time. I remember this one week where we lost one relative every single day of the week to covid. Every time the phone rang, we were scared to hear of another death in the family. Sure, I wasn’t close to these people, but my parents were. They lost their cousins, aunts, childhood friends. Grief had somehow become a constant in our lives. While I waited outside hospital benches, I saw people in emergency wards gasping for breath, being declined beds; I prayed for my mum. I just wasn’t ready to grieve again. I couldn’t let her go.

All this has occupied so much space in my mind that I’ve almost forgotten my other miseries. Unemployment, failures, grief, anxiety is now a regular part of my life. I can’t think of a time where I was happy or where I would be. All these years of ranting here, of being lost, oh god, take me back to those times.

Is this how adulthood is for everybody? There must be some happy moments, right! Sure, I didn’t opt for the usual ones such as marriage or children or building a family, but there must be some joys allotted to single women. I am even skeptical to say it can’t get worse because every time, it does.

At this point, I am just grateful that my family is safe. I spend my days in anxiety, but it is okay, my mum is here with me. I don’t know for how long, and tears have welled up in my eyes, but it’ll be okay.

Tell me that it’ll be okay.

P.S. To finish this post has been one of my major achievements this year. I think the most important. I was really sad several years ago and started writing here and it opened this whole new world for me. This has really helped me, more than anything I’ve done in recent times.

Zainab, if you are reading this…thank you for sending that email, it really pushed me to write . I don’t know who you are but I read your mail today and decided to come back here. Thank you.

Song on my mind: Aye Zindagi Gale Laga Le

Life, Death and Everything in Between…

Death has been my constant companion since September last year. No, I didn’t lose anyone close to me except Ak last year but every death, close or distant takes me to that familiar, heart crushing state of grief. The same thing happened today with the passing of the marvelous actor Irrfan Khan. Although it is the most certain thing known to all natural beings, death is really incomprehensible. Even with the knowledge that cancer, particularly the one Irrfan was suffering from was most certainly fatal, none of us were expecting to hear such terrible news. Or does it feel worse, because 2020 has already treated us with so much mess? This does feel like a personal loss to me. So did many things that happened in the past few months, be it the death of a neighbour I hardly spoke with, or that of a plant I looked upon as a symbol of hope. Ever since last year I’ve cried for every person/animal I see dying on screen. I have always been touchy on the subject of death and have shed a tear or two in movies but this sense of familiarity with grief is such a new thing for me. I can’t believe I spent twenty eight years without knowing grief, how incredibly lucky of me!

The world is going through a dark time right now. Every day is filled with news of numerous deaths, uncertainty and a feeling of impending doom. It has been really difficult for me to write anything after whatever happened. Even writing these few lines has been a real pain. I spent lots of time online looking for ways to deal with grief in the past few months (along with several queries on ghosts, afterlife, tarot cards, Ouija boards and whatnot). I found a quote by a user named Gsnow on a subreddit, and I go back to read it several times. I don’t know if it matters to anyone, but I would like to write this down somewhere, more for me than for anyone else.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

I don’t know how many shipwrecks I am yet to face in life but love will see me through.