(Painting : Death And Life ~ Gustav Klimt, 1916)
That happened in 2001. And am still struggling to come to terms with it.
This Tuesday morning, I woke up to read an SMS from Venkat Saminathan : Maami passed away last night at 10pm. The timing of the message was around 3 am. I had spoken to Maami only a few days before. It came as a rude shock. Dilip and Suresh spoke to me. I rushed to Chennai immediately. I wanted to be with Ve.Sa. at this hour of immense grief. By the time me and Sengathir reached Ve.Sa.'s house in the afternoon, they had already taken Maami to the crematorium. Her ashes were handed over in a container which confluenced with the waves of the sea at Besant Nagar beach.
Ve.Sa. was sitting in the same verandah of the house where I had bid adieu to Maami last month during my trip to Chennai. Ve.Sa. had come out for an evening with Dilip along with his walking stick to the hotel where I had put up. He was barefooted as he could not wear his sandals because of the fracture he had suffered in his legs. That was the second fall and fracture within a short span of few weeks. He held my shoulders, climbed up the steps of the hotel and came to the room. We discussed till mid-nite over 100 Pipers. In between, he rang up Maami to inform her about his safety and tell her not to worry about him and that he would return little late in the night and she could have her dinner and sleep peacefully. He always talks to her in that tone and tenor : an intimacy which has grown more affable with time. From 1992 when I first met him to 2010.
Now it is the mid-night of yet another Thursday. Three nights have passed by since Maami left Ve.Sa. who is now in his mid-seventies. Ve.Sa. would have probably started to have more intimate conversations with Maami. As I have been having with my father since 2001. Death is a deeply meditative phenomena in one's personal life. It is the most profound experience of sadness of the human soul. An artery emerging from one's heart snaps and the blood keeps drenching the heart. It never stops. One has to undergo the pain with its heightened intensity. There is no escape from it. From there, the doors open up. One can understand life more sincerely and more seriously in death alone. Death is the ultimate Teacher of Life. Life is not the same any more after encountering the death of a loved one.
Do we ever learn anything from it?