Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Periyaachchi - IV

I rushed home from school. Someone from home interrupted my some class and told me that periyaachchi has passed away. I just saw her on the way back to school after lunch. She asked have I had my lunch. I said, yes, I had lunch and I was late to school so, I gave her a flying look and was running. I saw her standing in the middle of the road watching me running to school, for few minutes, before she headed home.

I have to say I am not all that surprised, after her suicide attempt last year. When I reached home, I saw her body positioned in a sitting posture, decorated with lot of garlands. She was covered with my mother’s pink saree. I stood there for few minutes. It took me sometime to realise that I was not crying. Everyone around me was crying. My mother was sitting in front of, what, the body? Some more minutes of standing there, again made me realise it is not good to stand and stare without crying, people might think it is odd and bad. I went inside. Changed my uniform half-saree and put on very old clothes, as they are going to get dirty today. Went back to the hall. I was the one who reported the problem last year. When I went to ask money for her coffee, as I always do, she was very odd. We used to buy morning coffee, and it was my job. I take separate thookku for periyaachchi and for the rest of the family. By default I was included in periyaachchi’s group. It was my job to get money from her to buy coffee for us. I woke her up, and she was….odd.. “Chithi, amma, see here, periyaachchi is odd”. It was timely and we saved her. It took so many months for her to recover her speech and to get back to normal life. It was just this month last year!!! She has made sure that she dies this time. She is successful in her second attempt. Later I got information that she planned it very well too. She went around the entire village and spent some time with every relative close to her heart, including her eldest brother with whom she hadn't spoken in a long time… Suddenly I felt guilty. She was at our place this morning. I was getting ready to go to school. Tidying up before leaving to school was my job. I saw a bowl of rice lying on the kitchen floor, so I moved it to the corner area, my mother shouted at me saying that she had offered that to periyaachchi. I didn’t know. I apologised and gave her back. She refused and said she had food. I felt, I might have insulted her and that’s why she was refusing. Did I add to her hurts? oh, no! I might have catalysed her wanting-to-die feeling. Oh no. no! I didn’t mean it aachchi. I didn't. Just a couple of tears, not enough to wet my eyes. Went inside again. Took a magazine to read. Chithi came inside. “What, not even a death of a person can shake you? What kind of human being you are?”, she said seeing a magazine in my hand. I left home and went to my friend’s place. “Kutti, I don’t know, I can’t cry. I don’t want to sit there. Everyone is looking at me and thinking I am bad”. “You are after all a small girl”, A friend of my age tells me. What? I am fourteen. I should have emotions. I wondered about myself. But, I couldn't help the feeling relived for her. It was good for her. At least that she didn’t suffer. I am not old enough to earn yet. I could not have done anything to save her from the miseries she was going through. Death was good for her. She did it very well. She even talked to her older brother. I wish I knew what she was upto. I would not have given just a flying a look and ran away, when she was standing in the middle of the road watching me. She asked me did I have my lunch. I wish I had a chance to tell her I didn’t insult her this morning. I would never do that. I hope she rested in peace.
Place :- Kombai, Tamil Nadu. Age:- 14 years


Stephanie said...

When my grandfather died several years ago, I couldn't cry either. I didn't cry for the longest time and though I attended his funeral, the package of tissues that I thought I would need stayed unopened in the pocket of my trenchcoat. That little pack of tissues stayed in my pocket for years, unopened--almost like a reminder to me that I hadn't shown my grief. My lack of tears wasn't a lack of love. I loved him very much and spent hours with him in the last week of his life, talking to him about death because he was so frightened. I loved him enough to do that while the rest of my family just talked with him about the weather and who just bought a new car.

I finally opened that pack of tissues last year. I had been 5 years since my grandfather died and I finally cried because I missed him. I think that I couldn't cry before because I was both numb and I felt a little like grieving for him would be selfish. He had suffered for so long in misery, in the end, he welcomed death. His feelings on the matter were more important than my own. Perhaps that is the same reason why you couldn't cry about losing your periyaachchi. Her feelings on the matter outweighed your own.

Premalatha said...

I haven't cried yet stephanie. Thatha died when I was here in UK. I received a call when I was in the department and informed me Thatha died.. he was not well for sometime, so, it was not a surprise either. but it was big loss for me. I didn't/couldn't cry that time either.

I still beleive both of their deaths were good for them. When preiyaachchi died, thatha told several times that, she was so lucky to embrace such a wonderful death and he didn't know what was in store for him.. He said that several times.

>Perhaps that is the same reason >why you couldn't cry about losing >your periyaachchi. Her feelings >on the matter outweighed your >own.

For a long time I thought i was such a selfish feelingless specimen. I couldn't forgive myself for a long time. Now I think i understand I was not a bad person, it was just perhaps,... as you said, her feelings outweighed mine..

Barbara said...

Hi Prema,

I was very touched by your stories, they are so vivid :) You have talent, I can't wait to read more!


Michelle said...

Prema - if you felt you were selfish and feelingless then you weren't - because a truly feelingless person wouldn't have even thought about that and would never have felt they couldn't forgive themselves.

Sometimes grief makes us cry and sometimes the feelings are so big inside us they block the tears from getting out. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to say goodbye. We each do it in whatever way we can and every time it is different.

Your story was very powerful and very moving.

Premalatha said...

Hi Barb,

Thanks. Hope to write more too:)

Premalatha said...

Hi Michelle,

>There is no "right" or "wrong" >way to say goodbye. We each do it >in whatever way we can and every >time it is different.


>Your story was very powerful and very moving.

my periyachchi was very strong. she even planned her death. she went around and spent time with everyone on that day. amazing. her decision to die at that time was just right for her. I totally agree with her.

Premalatha said...

I mean, I didn't mean she deserved to die; I meant, she didn't deserve to suffer. She was suffering.

Michelle said...

My mother's uncle's wife chose the same thing so I do understand. My great aunt was a very strong woman. She lived a good life and when she chose to die it was truly right for her. She was going to become completely helpless due to illness abd she chose to leave before she had no power of choice left.

Not everyone in the family understood that, but my mother and I did. My great aunt kept control, even to controlling her own death. I respect that, even if I do miss her common sense and laughter.

Deepa said...

You didn't shed tears on your periyaachi's demise .but I cant help tears coming out reading 'Periyaachi'(IV)...
I didn't know you are a great writer .

Premalatha said...

Deepa, :)

So, finally my periyaachchi got tears from me in an indirect way that I write and Deepa sheds tears for me:)

I didn't know you are a great writer .

ahhh, something are kept secret you know.. I am just joking. (hope you have stopped crying) :)

How was the trip to India. I can't wait to hear the stories..:)

radhika said...

this was a really moving post.

i can understand when you say you didn't cry...
sometimes you are so close to someone you don't miss them even when he/she is gone. i think somehow you never expect them to go anywhere anyway.

after reading your posts i wish i had known my grandfather a little more. all i remember of him is running to his wooden armchair to sit with him (this chair is typical in kerala, with one arm longer than the other so the person sitting can put his feet up to relax). and i remember playing with his dentures. they were in a glass of water, grinning madly at everyone. and then i remember the trip to kerala with my aunt and cousins. all the way my aunt kept crying and my father was very quiet.

keep writing. i think there is a book waiting to be written by you :-)

Dubukku said...

very touching!!
you have great tallent !!
keep them coming!

Premalatha said...

(this chair is typical in kerala, with one arm longer than the other so the person sitting can put his feet up to relax).

bring it next time when you go.

keep writing. i think there is a book waiting to be written by you :-),

ahh, that is too much, but, thank you:)

Premalatha said...

Hi dubukku,

It is just a sob story, so, i am not surprised everyone liked it. I wouldn't attribute that to my "talent" yet. but, I am happy that, the sob story reached others as sob story itself.


Dubukku said...

check my latest post pls ask Balan to check that as well.
Hope you guys dont mistake :)

Premalatha said...

check my latest post pls ask Balan to check that as well.
Hope you guys dont mistake :)

What is there to mistake? you haven't said anything at all!!


(Balan will reply tommorrow, as he is still working)

senthil said...

i think i was a very small kid when peiyaachi was around. could not really remember much of her now. but i do have lot of good memories of thatha. me and thatha did share very good times.
- balan, this is to make sure that i have read the blogs.