Sunday, April 18, 2021

Accepting Grief - 2

Trigger Warning: Death, XXX Virus, Grief

Kindly read '
Accepting Grief' , incase you haven't, earlier.
Over the last few days, I have been in the midst of conversations around...


"I can continue to wear the taali (mangalsutra) right? or am I to remove it now? What about pottu (bindi)? hmm.. I don't think I will wear my pattu (silk) sarees now... What if someone says something?"

"May be if I had practised Reiki and prayed for him on time, we wouldn't have lost my him..."

(referring to her husband) "I asked Appa who this actor on TV was, just yesterday... or was it the day before?" 

(referring to her husband) "He had mentioned his will a fortnight ago.. May be he knew..."


"Yesterday I opened dad's draw and saw some documents / papers and told myself, "I should ask Appa about these..." and later realised "Appa dhaan inime vara maattare.." (Dad won't be back ever again).

"....When I met Appa and held his hand on Sunday (the day before he passed away), I saw a tear drop in his eyes and asked him if he was crying because he never does. He brushed it off. But I sensed he was relieved seeing me, after being in the isolation ward for 3 days with no visitors. Now it feels like he was almost waiting for his son to see him before he decided to leave..."

"I missed informing him that he became a great grandfather once again a few days ago...I should've...cha!"

"The doctor's certificate mentions 8 am. May be he passed away in his sleep..."

18th April 2021:

Bumped into a resident of the building the other day in the elevator who asked "How is dad?" and we had to tell him he'd passed away. The husband tells me he was the same guy who was doing his daily walk around the building that night and saw my f-i-l struggle to get into the car. The moment the husband said this, it brought back scenes of the night when we admitted my father-in-law in the hospital. So vividly. My f-i-l struggling to walk down the little ramp at our building, trying to get into the car, the drive to the hospital, he being taken in the wheelchair in the hospital and me waving bye to him.
And I ended up crying uncontrollably. Even now, as I write this.

We've all hardly slept over the last one week... One wakes up in the middle of the night to see if the other ones at home are doing ok (Read: alive). Apparently I woke up the other night, agitated, screaming "I am unwell unwell!" The husband checked for fever and calmed me down. I have zero recollection of this.

And there are times when we find ourselves laughing - when the m-i-l , watching Naattammai, tells us emphatically that Khushbu is married to Saratkumar... or when she asks if Jayalalithaa , Sivaji Ganesan are alive. Yes, that #GandhiSetthuttara moment only.

Growing up in the midst a huge joint family in Madras, I remember the house teeming with people every time there was death in the family. A month of nonstop visitors, never ending kaapi rounds, food for a crowd of 20-30 folks every day and rituals. The 13th day ceremony had a Sorpozhivi of sorts, where a learned person would talk about the soul that departed.

I don't know whether it's a blessing being confined to the four walls not having visitors pouring in, or it's a disadvantage to just have 3 people discuss the same thing repeatedly to console each other, for a week now.  Eyes well up every time we discuss my father-in-law. 

Just a week ago on Monday, the 12th of April 2021, the husband sat his mother down to say "Amma, oru bad news... Appa poittaru...". The lady who believed her husband was chilling next door for over a week, to be isolated from her, was just told she was not going to be able to meet him... ever again. For the first time in 19 years, I saw both my husband and his mother break down. It was heart-wrenching. I keep going back to this godawful Monday morning and wonder what was going in my mother-in-law's mind hearing this. Did she process the information?  Was she given time to process the information? She is yet to come to terms with the fact that her partner of 61 years is no more. It is not easy and it's never going to be easy.

But I can say one thing. Her unflinching faith in her family and extended family and friends to standby her forever, is what keeps her going. More than the trust, I'd say it's the kallankabadamilladha warmth she exudes and love for people and conversations is what has given her strength and comfort. And I sincerely hope it continues to be that way.

Thank you again, to all of you and to our family and friends for being with us virtually, all through this week. ❤️

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Accepting Grief

 Trigger Warning : Death, XXX Virus, Grief

12th April 2021

We were both woken up by the loud ringtone of the husband's phone at 7:30 on a Monday morning.

"Ok.. ok..theek hai...ok", he said to the voice on the other side. 

He said to me, "Apparently Appa's breathing failed and they're trying to revive him..." the nurse called. 

8:30 am - One more call. One more "Ok ok ok..." from the husband.

"Poyittaaram..(He's no more)" husband gestured and later mentioned to me. 

6th April 2021

The husband's mother was back home after a 5-day hospitalisation after having tested positive earlier, for the XXX Virus, sometimes called Covid 19. 

And so, we were very sure his father who had tested positive after a few days, would also be discharged in 5 days. In fact we were planning for their home quarantine , post their discharge, at around the 12th of April 2021.

8th April 2021

My father-in-law tested positive that Wednesday night . Having gone thru' the drill of sending bulk messages to friends and colleagues in search of a hospital bed earlier for my mother-in-law on the 30th of March 2021, we repeated the same, a week later.

Formatted Messages / Calls to all friends and colleagues to help us with a hospital bed for an Octogenarian were sent / made. Thanks to some kind folks who we have had the fortune of working with, we managed to find a hospital and get him admitted at 2 am. 

How do you tell someone they've contracted this deadly virus and that they'd need to leave asap for the hospital? 

"UngaLukku Adhu Vanduthu... "


Adhudanpa.. Corona vandudutthu" - The husband told his father way past midnight informing him that he'd need to pack and leave for the hospital.
"Do you want to carry your hearing aid / pallu set (Dental set)?"

"No I will take just my comb" he replied. He got ready combing his hair straight, packing a set of clothes. The long ride to the hospital went with discussing vetti stuff on the rare sight of empty Bombay roads at 1 am.

At the hospital the Duty Doctor explained treatment protocol and we admitted my father in law at 2 am. Back home, husband and I were exhausted but we slept early morning, with a lot of hope that he'd be back in just 5 days. And that one did the right thing admitting him on time.

9th-11th April

The next few days went with regular updates from the hospital and the nurses that a certain uncle ji was progressing well. And that he had Khichdi and his oxygen levels were ok. On Sunday the 11th of April 2021, the husband decided to visit his father just to reassure him that we were around and that since it was a Covid ward we couldn't visit him regularly. Husband came back later that evening, mildly worried but still hopeful of his father's quick recovery and planning his discharge, home quarantine etc.

And in less than 12 hours, we were informed of his passing, by the doctor.

My father-in-law was a simple, no-nonsense, unassuming, Independent person. He'd probably have an answer if Thillu Mullu Rajini were to ask him "Sindhu Bhairavi Raagatha Sivaranjani Ragathoda Mix Panni, Ataana Ragatha Arokkanathula Pidichi...Thodaila Aadhi Thaalam potta kidaikara Raagam Kalyaniya Kaambodhiya Karagara Priyava Shanmuga Priyava illa Sripriya va?"

A man with an amazing memory and love for Carnatic music, he had an enviable Carnatic music cassette collection and was the in-house encyclopaedia for all things Carnatic. Who needed google when we had him know all ragams and thaaLams on his finger tips?

My first memory / discussion with him was when we both watched some Malaysia Kalai Nigazchi on Suntv early 2000s featuring all Tamizh film actors. Actor Ajith was conspicuously absent in the star-studded event featuring Rajini, Vijayakanth, Kamal etc. I asked f-i-l if he knew why Ajith was absent.  "IT Raid-a irukkum!" f-i-l adichivittufyed.  Not kidding, the following week's Kumudam / Vigadan carried Kisu Kisu of IT raids at Ajith's and hence his absence. Now in hindsight, I think we missed an opportunity to host a cleaner version 'Valai Pechu' then, featuring my fil. He would've made an amazing host for all things Kollywood.

As I write this, my father-in-law is probably watching Sembaruthi on Indra TV in Heaven, eating his favourite Vadai and Aviyal watching his family here reminisce the good times they shared with him - Be it his grandkids talking about their trips to  Mother Dairy or his son talking about how he managed to keep a copy of every Govt. document / bill copy ever safe, or his loving wife wondering why he didn't eat the Vadai she made for him last month. And smiling to himself, he's probably gone back to watching the next soap opera after Sembarutti.

13th April 2021 - Today

It's been an overwhelming 2 days. We have been flooded with calls and messages of support and strength, from family, friends and acquaintances from across. We are eternally grateful for the support that's been pouring from across. Nothing but gratitude for all the gestures of affection.

Every time after a long call with a friend, I end up crying. The very thought of seeing the husband and mother-in-law coping with this loss in their own way is often overwhelming, emotionally tiring.

The husband's close knit family of 5, including his mother, are on video calls regularly, just chatting about general stuff and to reassure one another they're always there for each other, no matter what.

The discussions at home between the husband, mother-in-law and I have often been around the mindless Tamizh soap operas (Sembarutthi fans anyone?) on mil's Jayam Ravi fandom (I resign from this family) or how pretty my nighties are. Lulz.

Husband and I often remind ourselves what the other person needs to do if one of us show symptoms of XXX virus. "The worst is over..." he reminds and reassures me almost on an hourly basis. Sometimes I just wish I could be like him. My ever optimistic, always-looking-into-the-better-brighter-side-of-things, husband.

He has, after all, taken after his mother. So we'd should be alright. We will be.

PS - I don't get "How old was he?" "Did you see his face/ body?" questions.