The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Edited by: Malavika Suresh
I was eating kachoris when I was reminded that she liked to eat them. There would always be kachoris in the house; and every evening she would eat them sitting on the dining table. After every meal, she wanted to eat something sweet. Her preferences ranged from Oreo ice-cream, chocolate cake to ladoo and jalebi. She would complain that the quantity is too much; reduce the portion to half and invariably end up eating the entire serving.
I didn’t feel anything when I got the news. It was 2 in the afternoon, and I had just finished a math class. My dad told me, he didn’t even use the word ‘died’, just shook his head. That day, it rained in the evening. It never rains in May and it felt like a sign; a sign that she was free and liberated from her suffering. I sat by the window and ended up crying while reading the condolences messages. Two days later, I cried at her prayer meet. I haven’t cried since.
I couldn’t attend her funeral. I watched it on a video call, maybe that’s why I’m not badly affected. It’s been five months, and nothing has happened. I’m still waiting for something to happen. Everyone describes death of a loved one as the toughest and darkest phases of one’s life. Why am I happy then? Did I not love her enough? Am I in denial?
When I went to clear her house, everything was in place and neatly organized. For the first few days, I couldn’t assort anything. If I moved something from its place, I felt guilty for messing up her house. A week later, I reluctantly started packing her stuff. I did not have the heart to give most of it away. I knew the story behind each lamp and tea set and giving them away felt like erasing a part of her from my memory.
Every religion follows different rituals and customs to honour the deceased persons’ life and body. It is true that life is a solitary journey where we come alone and die alone; but we leave behind people, memories and things that we love. The people and memories survive the test of time, but what about one’s belongings? Do you keep them or give them away? Is selling them off an insult to the dead? What is the right way to remember them?
A few months after her passing, I decided to refurbish the house. I spent hours choosing paint, finding ways to include her furniture and redesigning rooms. I had been living in that house for ten years and never felt the need to renovate it before. Now, suddenly everything needed to be changed. The walls were dirty, there were too many showpieces and we needed more sofas. My friend told me adding more sofas and plants won’t make the house any less lonely. I can’t help but wonder if she’s right. Was this a genuine decision, or an attempt to remove traces of my loss?
If I was driven by the latter motive, I haven’t been very successful. I visited my renter’s apartment to sign some documents and spotted her sofa. I couldn’t get myself to sit there and stared at it like a problem, waiting to be solved. A week ago, I was attending a class on divinity and spirituality, and was reminded of her daily routine of reciting prayers at six in the evening. I haven’t worn any of her clothes. They are neatly packed and kept at the back of my cupboard. I’m afraid if I wear them, I’ll forget what she smelled like.
Yet, I still feel guilty for moving on with my life. I don’t cry when I think of her, and I don’t know if I miss her. I expected death of a loved one to be a life changing and a grand experience, but I’ve realised its nature is pretty similar to happiness. It can be found everywhere, especially in the small moments. This is true for legacy as well. For the longest time, I believed legacy was something that could be defined. Now, I’ve realised legacy is both tangible and intangible. Your clothes, crockery and books are your legacy, and your family is too. Names, surnames are your legacy on paper, but in reality it’s the people you’ve impacted who will make you immortal by carrying parts of your spirit within them.