Monday, January 17, 2011

That Great White Sofa

I first learnt about death when our dog died - I was just about to enter my teens. I only understood its permanence and the meaning of absence with two deaths in my early twenties, first losing my grandfather and then a few years later my college flatmate. Both were sudden and unexpected, shocking jolts to the heart which I thought of only as a muscle and not so much an emotion.

I haven’t been writing at my unbelievable pace(!) because at the very start of the year the vast but close circle of my mother’s first cousins has suffered a terrible blow. We lost my Ravi maama, first cousin to my mother, beloved husband to M maiji and father to my cousins M and R. Even coming after an illness it was sudden and unexpected, a text alert from my mum in the wee hours of the morning. My mother was distraught, her sobs disallowing any words to be spoken as I uselessly held the phone and let her cry. It is impossible, in my view, to find words that adequately describe how empty the world can suddenly seem. She needed to cry and I needed to listen and tell her I loved her.

My tears came later. I am not big on crying, preferring the comfort of a closed bathroom with a running tap to mask my own. But no matter who says what, sometimes just crying through it can express some of how you feel, whether you do so in private or public. When the crying is done what’s left are all those memories of his big laugh, his amazing sense of humour, his bravery in the armed forces and how adored he was by us all. He told me at my brother’s wedding recently that my son had our family’s mischievous smile but that his cheeks could do with a bit of Mathur fattening up. That is my last memory of him. I know that lives are to be celebrated but that is the world’s hardest thing when it seems bleak and harsh and less one very important person.

I cannot even imagine what my cousins and my aunt are going through but I know that each of them has a life of memories to do with maama and these will bring a smile to their faces in time. There are no words that I or anyone can say that will bring them closer to closure - that is a course each person must run alone - but I do hope that knowing so many people have them in their thoughts helps in some small measure. And as unreal as it sounds while in the very middle of very real grief, I can only add that time takes away some of the raw pain and leaves behind a plethora of memories.

I like to think of life after this one as a large white sofa; the image gives me peace. And everyone I know that’s gone before us congregates at it for their evening drink and a bit of a chat, sharing jokes and passing on news about us to those gone before. I can imagine my nana and his brothers sipping martini’s, smoking pipes and the odd cigar and cracking jokes only they get. I know they wait for news of us and I know maama will be most welcome, his smile and infectious laughter joining theirs to be the murmur of the heavens above.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Your white sofa image is comforting for me too.

  2. Anonymous9:03 AM


    My condolences. The sofa image is very endearing.

  3. Sorry for your loss, life and time heals.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear of this loss. The image of that sofa is lovely!