Unbound

“Muleteer” Pompeii. Seated corpse found next to a donkey in the ruins of Pompeii.
“We devour grief, more than loss, as if it is an extraordinary event. Yet loss is commonplace, ordinary and most often, the millions of miniature aftermaths are inconsequential in the larger universality of being.” That is what she told me.

What I did not understand then, was the kind of absence she was mourning; not until later, when, in my own grief-stricken terrain of non-being, I discovered this Absence in my own journey of denial and how from this grief, observed, I would grieve too, in more ways than I could have imagined.

The strident peel of steel wheels, as an orderly steers a gurney through the emergency doors: The Saturday morning call, the late night ring. The invisible sparse distance between one’s mind and the voices you know are speaking at you, yet you register nothing, until something shakes your elbow and your mind is wrenched back to the now, when your body wants nothing but to lunge out, and undo the harrowing of it. To un-stitch the riveting meaninglessness. Then, the onset of gaping hours, as the mauling begins.

She could not map out her grief. It was neither lucrative goldmine for a thirsty audience, addicted to the gut-wrenching drama of loss, nor was it the emotive intention of lyrical metaphor. Hers was not a spectator sport. There were no stages to the loss, no psychological terrain of aftermath, or mourning, to produce an inferior memoir; or a retrospective masterpiece of confessional commercial fiction. Hers was real: Indecipherable for the most part. It was cold, cruel and indifferent to anything she ever thought she could feel.

There are no little things to trauma: No minor details of digression, no room for scrupulous transcriptions, only the ravaging numbness, between the panic, that grips the jugular of any and all possible, unreachable air. A wrench and wretch of gut, stopping blood from its flow.

But of everything, it was the rawness of skin she felt, so callous in its sudden frigidity and candour. Numb is all that followed the sudden unsought emptying out, in her interior: such inexplicable amputation.

Of all the ways there are to die.

I watched her emerge from the raw fickle turbulence of wrath, shame and silence. Grief is cruel as rust: its oxidation of the soul in turbulence of air, and not, wrings scalding sufferance. The mind and melting of the skin, of all heartache.

Were death a way out, how is it I can never figure the way in?

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