Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goodbye to a good soul....

I have just come back from a 'Besana'. For those who may not know what a 'Besana' is, let me tell you just one thing - it is perhaps the most healing and comforting post-funeral ritual whichever culture you compare it to. A traditional 'Besana' involves the entire community, which gathers together to comfort the family of the deceased. In this case, it was still more poignant since the person whose sudden death we were there to mourn ,was just 30 years old. It gets worse. He had taken his own life. After leaving a sweet and loving letter for his mother. So.... if the letter was sweet and loving, why did he do it? Because he could no longer live the life of someone suffering from a bipolar condition. He was done with the heavy medication and the abrupt mood swings that typify this syndrome. He wanted out.
What was extraordinary about this particular 'Besana' was the turnout. He was not a 'somebody' , not a celeb.... not even a celeb son. He was just a very loveable, very troubled young man who touched people's hearts with his simplicity and guilessness. A pure soul. An innocent human being . A person without a trace of malice. People adored him. People forgave him . Even when he drove them mad with his unpredictable behaviour.
I watched his mother dealing with the endless stream of mourners who had thronged to the venue to pay their last respects.... the hall was overflowing ( I had to stand outside, along with fifty others ), and his closest friends who'd been watching the IPL matches with him a few hours before he decided to end it all, were reading out tributes in choked voices, tears streaming down their faces, their complete puzzlement evident to everyone( why did he have to do it?). The framed picture said a lot - he was smiling happily in it, as if teasing fate. His older brother kept shaking his head in disbelief, wondering whether they had failed him in some way.
No they hadn't.
They had loved him in the only way they knew. And that was enough.
But try telling that to a devastated mother who could only recall their last conversation and ask herself why she hadn't sensed something terrible was about to happen...
I held her closely for a long, long time. And let her cry.
And when I left the venue..... I knew she would heal. Because that is what traditional 'Besanas' are for. Grieving and healing.Unlike 'Wakes' in the West, which are silent and solemn affairs, here in India, it is okay to cry openly, to express the grief you are feeling in your heart, to hug strangers and seek comfort, to converse compulsively about the person who has died, even to laugh at some of the memories. Emotions are there to be expressed, not suppressed. Sorrow is there to be shared , not buried. And the memory of the person is meant to remain as fresh as the flower garlands adorning the portrait of the deceased, as fragrant as the incense burning slowly through the long proceedings.
I looked at the beautifully turned out Gujarati ladies in crisp organdie sarees, their delicate ear lobes curling slightly with the weight of flawless solitaires. I looked again at the shell -shocked mother who had tragically lost her most precious, most priceless jewel.
Farewell darling 'N'. We will always love and miss you...
It is going to be a long and lonely night....

33 comments:

ek-ladki-anjaani-si said...

May his soul rest in peace.

R

gauri said...

Somewhere this shows the support system that is in built in Indian society.

May the Almighty help his mother come out of the grief.

Tandarin Nike said...

I could feel the pain of the mother reading your post. Hope and pray the young man's soul rests in peace.

Neeraj Tandon said...

I attended one such event last year which was called " celebration of life"

http://neerajtandon.blogspot.com/2009/06/celebration-of-life.html

-- I guess it was a "besana"

Your write up seemed to bring the event to life..very touching
many thx for sharing

cooldeep said...

RIP...
long time reader..but this post of your made me comment on your blog...

RAJ47 said...

Hi Shobhaa,
A beautiful and sensitive post!
What a post!! You are such a wonderful writer!!!
I recently lost a dear friend. He too was young. I am sure it was not his time.
His wife is an extremely brave lady. The family went in for organ donation. Me sitting very far from them am very sad at the loss. But in some corner of my heart I know my friend still lives on. He has been an angel to many who would have otherwise suffered.
Thanks for sharing this post.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

My thoughts are with all who have lost.

ms said...

mz de, what can one say? i leave it to john donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die."

hope it gives you peace.
ms

STATE HINDI NEWS said...

life has its own folds........but u said nicely.

garima82 said...

The impact of the post was so strong that I could feel myself to be there...as if I was a part of ‘besana’ ...as if his mother hugged me and cried...as if I heard all choked voices...I could feel the pain of the mother and the brother wondering why they were not able to see this coming...as if I watched IPL matches with N....and at the end of it while writing this comment I could feel the vision getting blurred but I have to stop the emotions here...office is not the right place to cry...or may be it doesn’t matter...
May he soon come back in their lives in a different avtar...he must really be special...May God take good care of him in The Better World...

Garima

anamika said...

I am glad that people in my country are getting aware of bipolar disorder because this has happened with me too..I lost my brother because of this disease who was an extra ordinary person since birth...till his 24th year of his life he took care of his bopolar mother and didnt know that this disease will be a gift for him too....

Life of a biopolar is worse then a mentally disease person as he is neither normal nor abnomal..
Besana may help but losing loved one that too this young is a pain of life time which i guess will go after i leave planet earth...

Your post brought back my brother memory and it seem as if you wrote about him only..

rony said...

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Sevekari said...

Dear Ms Shiobha,

Keep on writing on various topics. I look forward to your blog first thing in the morning. I have been your fan for umpteen years.

Sidhusaaheb said...

ChhaaN badlaan di umar bandyaaN di

(The lives of human beings can be as ephemeral as the shadows that clouds cast upon land.)

- Waris Shah, Sufi

Pooja said...

i pray that 'N' soul rest in peace and may he come in the lives of his loved ones in some other form and bring lots of happines and joy.
I reminds me of 25 tenets for happiness ( which you had written for THe Week for the year 2008 but i felt they were good for life so i wrote them in my diary and read them whenever i feel like and i feel very good )one of the point was to never control beautiful acts like crying, hugging, laughing and kissing and one should exhibit emotions . I completely agree with you when we express emotions we actually let go.... whether its pain,happiness or any other feeling it makes us feel light and healed.

Readers Dais said...

ive heard that even long time after death, reminscing the happy moments and sharing with the family members do give them a relief, but normally people dont do it, in india we express because our relations are more deep and valued compared to west...uv really given us the pic thanks

Nandinikakoti said...

RIP 'N'

Latha said...

garima82 said it all.
@Anamika, our thoughts are with you. May your brother have peace.
@Rony, it is not alluring gift hampers that we need now. What we need is a wreath ! C'mon

Jogeshwar said...

May his soul rest in his peace. I am sorry for being cynical but isn't it the society that is responsible for the disorder in the first place. Sociologists say society forces an individual to commit suicide.

goodluck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudipta said...

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Sudipta said...

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Another Kiran In NYC said...

You write this beautiful eulogy with your grip on the pen softened; your eyes tender and your heart open to soothe a child's hurt.

Today, as a mother I experience grief and loss differently from when I felt that I was just a singular, independant entity adrift in the world. Loss is now somehow more cutting and yet more bareable at the same time.

My prayers are with everyone that this young man left behind.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

You write this beautiful eulogy with your grip on the pen softened; your eyes tender and your heart open to soothe a child's hurt.

Today, as a mother I experience grief and loss differently from when I felt that I was just a singular, independant entity adrift in the world. Loss is now somehow more cutting and yet more bareable at the same time.

My prayers are with everyone that this young man left behind.

salu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
salu said...

Shobhaade,
generally, you throw a gem in your postings and it glows perennial.... this time it ahces me and many readers as well... so touching... deeply lament in the fate of loved one...
remaining with grief..
salu.

Saji Oommen said...

Very touching...

aditi said...

It always is very painful when the realisation dawns upon you will never see that person who mattered the most in your life......you really expressed this feeling beautifully......

L.k. Bali said...

DEKHA KAROONGA APNI PARCHHAI MEIN TUMHEN
YEH AUR BAAT HAI KE KABHI CHHOO NA SAKUNGA

S said...

this article proves the hollowness of Ms De's character.Does the fact that the hall was overflowing make this any less(or more) or a tragedy?Does the fact that there were Gujrati girls dressed in wonderful sarees make this less traumatic for the mother?

This just goes to proves that De is a hopelessly outdated person proving that money cannot buy class.It was a funeral,not a marriage party!

Neha said...

May his soul rest in peace and his family gets the strength to bear the loss. I lost my dadaji recently and am still to come to terms with it...I know and understand how it feels to lose someone suddenly.

krutika said...

I know this might not be the right moment to make this comment.But on a side note...i have bipolar disorder too. With some couselling and help it can be cured. Thank god i am in the United States or else it might have been too hard for me. For year my parents thought i am a lazy and a sloppy girl who is unambitious.
the problem in India is that firstly most people are unware of these things and the ones that are make this very dramatic. For someone suffering from bipolar the best way to beat it would be keeping busy and maintaining a very strict routine. I tried this and refused to take any medication, i work out too..which helps immensely.
Suicides from bipolar would be unheard of in the west...it is a well known disease with the right treatment available.
In those days when people did not know what bipolar was, they were given all kinds of wrong treatments.
Yes we do support people for grieving....but why are there no counsellors in schools and colleges..why not provide support services for the living...trust me us Indians need that the most. I know a few people who will benefit from it.