Coming to grips (2)
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
Learning to grieve
'Shushhhh! Don't start,' you used to say. You meant, don't cry. There'd be no end to it once I gave in, you said. I'd go mad.
You knew about going mad with crying. For a whole year after your own father died, your mother set a place at table for him. For a whole year, she ordered you and your sisters to invite him to eat. You were eight when that year started; nine, when finally, she removed his bowl and plate, his spoon, his chopsticks.
I don't remember how old I was when you told me not to cry. Maybe after I decided to copy the wailers at my grandfather's funeral and my pretend crying turned into hysterics. Maybe... I was nine then.
Whatever, I have been doing a really great job since. I've been really good, my husband has said, by which he means, somewhat bad. 'No tears' isn't well done in his book. Why even he, a mere son-in-law, has felt the ache of your passing, the hold of your absence. It's not natural the way I go on, as if nothing is gone. I am unnatural, that's what he's saying, without saying.
He's not wrong. I peer into my own depths and see a turtle, with a shell thicker than that of Kurma, the turtle who carries the weight of the world. No hurt can penetrate it, no sorrow break out from it. It's true, there are cracks in the carapace through which an un-named something seeps through. True, so much leaks out over the days and months, it turns into an ocean in which I must surely drown. But is it grief? And even if it is, how is it possible for me to let it all out?
'You must. You surely must,' I can hear the small soft things inside me whispering. Pleading. Whoever or whatever they are, they must be birthed. They are insistent. And so I allow them to make their way into light. Into air.
It is too late. What emerges are mis-shappened hollows; still-born children, incapable of crying out and opening their mouths to life.
I have left it too long. Or is there still hope?