Death, they say is a great leveler and it is also the final and ultimate step through which all beings have to pass, which is a proof of the impermanence nature of life. But, however natural occurrence death is, no one looks forward to it and everyone mourns the demise of a beloved one.
Since life has to go on, the bereaved try to resume a normal life at the earliest possible, at least externally. No one really knows what may be going on in their minds. But what happens when someone, willy-nilly or accidently, reminds the person in grief about the lost one, especially if that lost one has left behind two young children? I think it’s natural for memories to come flooding back and the old wound to become raw again. It really must be extremely painful. It also results in lots of embarrassment, which I am very certain because I just did that. Without intending to I rubbed salt in a friend’s wound and I felt miserable, low and felt like the scum of the earth!
It was the 16th of June. I was in his office for some insignificant work, which could have waited. But the restless person that I am, I could not wait and I was there in his office. After the customary greetings we settled down for business, which was not much anyway. In the midst of our conversation, I absentmindedly blurted out, “Is today your late wives’ birthday?” and regretted the moment I said them. If it were possible I would have taken back my words but then you know the impossibility of how words spoken and bullets shot out of the barrel of a rifle to be called back. The damage has already been done. He went red in the face and mumbled something, which I could not hear.
I know he is a strong person, and thanks God he was not in tears, but that moment I knew I struck a chord deep within him. I knew my words brought back lots of memories, some of which he wanted to bury deep but I unearthed them for him. Me and my slippery tongue! I somehow managed a feeble “I am sorry” and then I was loss of words. What do you say during such moments? I am not really good at consoling others and any further attempts at it would have made things worse for both of us. The least said the better. Even if I did console him then, I knew and he knew that, whatever I said, however sweet and warm the words, they would be just empty and hollow words. Only he would have known what was going on in his mind. With nothing more to say, I excused myself out of his office on some pretext and fled. Literally, I ran and people may have thought that I was an eccentric person. But I was not in a condition to bother.
People may wonder how I knew his late wives’ birthday. The answer is simple. It’s the internet in general and facebook in particular that put me in such awkward situation. That morning I visited facebook and saw the notification there. That lovely person was my friend in facebook. May her soul rest in peace!
My slippery tongue got myself into another embarrassing situation, a few months back. I was in conversation with around half a dozen of people over a drink. We met for the first time that day and were to work together for the next few weeks. One was a young sweet lady. As the night progressed we started talking and the topic of our discussion turned to families. I asked the lady about her family, to which she replied that her husband was no more. I was sorry for her and conveyed the same through words. The discussion should have ended there. Period! But my next words shocked even myself. “How did he die?” were the words that slipped out of my mouth. I didn’t intend to but somehow these words came out. I was embarrassed and shocked. I knew then and there that my words brought back lots of poignant memories. The others in the group froze and there was pin drop silence. May be they took me for an insensitive fool and I don’t deny it because only insensitive fools will do such insensitive acts. Resuming the conversation after that was quite awkward. But the lady in question, being a good one in that, took things gracefully. At such a very young age she has gone through so much in life. I summed up my words of condolence thus, “God must have better plans for him”.
After the incidence with this lady, we became very good friends. She confided in me how and what all she went through, the shocks and the “near depression” experience she went through. May be it feels better to get things out of one’s chest and this lady does that whenever she feels low and down. I am proud to be of a little help to someone, though I cannot tell her so in as so many words.