“I’m sorry. I won’t be able to come. The plan is cancelled.”
Before I could say anything further, he hung up. A ten-second phone conversation propelled me into pondering over a legion of speculations as to what could have gone wrong.
We had just spoken a day ago. Everything was set. I was going to bunk college, because nobody wants to attend Engineering Graphics anyway! He was going to come from Dehradun for a couple of days, just to meet all of us. It was his eighteenth birthday after all! The midnight cake was ready. We had planned a surprise party for him. His parents were about to gift him a car. Everything was fine.
What could have possibly gone wrong?
I brushed that thought aside, and began searching for reasons to convince myself into attending that EG class, eventually figured there are none, and went off to sleep. It wasn’t until evening that I came to know his parents had passed away. Both of them.
I could only imagine what might have been going through his mind. Without wasting much time, I rushed to meet him. On my way, I recounted what I had gone through when I’d lost someone. The closest word to describing what it felt like was amputation.
It was as if my being had been permanently altered. The cells in my body were different. My organs felt different. And even after a year, my heart physically aches from the inside of my chest, every time the thought crosses my mind. Despite having gone through something similar in the past, I was in no position to even estimate what he was going through. And to my surprise, I found myself at a loss of words to comfort him.
I looked at him. I knew his body is convulsing with fear of the unknown. Emotional pain can subject one to unfathomable depths of torture. It had taught me that both, our bodies and our minds, are able to discern every flicker of unsteady emotional and corporeal suffering, even when there is no tangible evidence to be seen. But, the pain that I speak of, was going to be a new constant in his life.
Amidst the tornado of emotions people experience at such times, when it happened to me, I remembered feeling an intense desire to smile. To think about all the beautiful times we had spent together. To repeat all our conversations in a monologue. The memories that stole a tear, but also twinkled a smile on my face. I sensed a minuscule silver lining in that very obscure cloud.
I looked at him again. I knew he wanted to find that silver lining. But when such a humongous pile of anguish hits you off-guard, a simple hug might feel like the most wonderful thing in the world. Without coping with grief and coming to terms with the harsh reality of life, growing up would be superfluous.
At that moment, all you can say is, ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ and be there for them, because that moment will be etched in their mind, forever.