What Someone’s Death Taught Me

Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves and Immortality.

by Emily Dickinson

What beautiful lines to describe the brief and fleeting nature of life!

Until a few days ago, I was always proud and innately happy to have all four of my grandparents alive and healthy. That was until the 17 of April this year. In a shocking and abrupt turn of events, I lost my paternal grandmother to multiple organ failure.

I didn't even know how old she was. No one knew that. She was born in Pakistan a few years before the 1947 partition between India and Pakistan. That was the year when she got engaged to my grandfather, for whom the loss in undoubtedly the biggest. After the marriage, they lived at a number of places in India including Patiala, Kolkata (where my father was born), Karnal and then for the past twenty-five years or so in Ludhiana.

Old people have such eventful lives. They are full of stories and anecdotes by the time they reach their twilight years. I am sure she had her own share of stories and events. All I want to remember now was the nicknames she used for me when I was a toddler or how she was the one who announced the birth of my younger brother. Somehow her death opened up memories that I think were locked somewhere.

Since that day, I have thought a number of times about the contradictory nature of life. Sometimes, it appears ephemeral. It is as if, life is too short and we need to do so much in a short amount of time that we have been given. However, at other times, I think that life is long enough for us to do so much and still more. Lives can change in a matter of days. Families can grow from 2 to 5 members in a matter of a decade. How can 6 or more decades be short enough then?

The crux of what I mean is that no matter how short or long you think life is, you need to pump more happiness into it. This is what I learnt from my grandmother. She loved food and every kind of food. She loved pickles, mangoes, sweets and a lot more. Although, these indulgences were the primary reasons for most of her health problems, she still continued giving in to her love of food till the last day she was well. It didn't seem as if she intentionally wanted to live her remaining years on her terms. But this is what I am going to learn from the event.

Live life as if you have a few days left. But be aware that you will be able to accomplish everything you want IF you work towards it.

Family is important. Make a point to visit them regularly. Reciprocate when people tell you how much they miss or missed you.

Cherish memories that you build over the years. We don’t remember days. We remember moments.

Always wish the best for everyone you know. Life should be about perpetuating happiness and inner peace. There shouldn't be any time for hatred or malice.

RIP Mummy. I will always remember you.

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