1. Not being able to wash my hair or eat non-vegetarian food for close to a fortnight has a strongly detrimental effect on my temper and general ability to spread sweetness and light. Being asked to cease and desist from such strong statements have an even more negative effect on my temper especially when I’ve kept away from the meat and the shampoo for a week already. No, I never claimed to be rational.
2. I can sit next to the body of a man I loved and respected and keep a steady head and remember to do all the things that need doing. But the sight of mourning clothes for my husband and brother-in-law can make me go to pieces. The sight of their shaved heads still upsets me, although I wouldn’t dream of letting that stop me from pointing out to Vicky that now his ears stick out more than ever.
3. Vicky looks more like his father now (his father had nicer ears though). He was gifted a kurta that is similar to one Baba used to wear and it startles me when I catch glimpses of the cloth around a corner. It is, however, not a bad thing. Some fragment of him remains. And Vicky, in memory of his father who was a legendary dhuti-wearer, wore dhutis all these days. Some fragments, as I say, of the father-in-law remains in his sons.
4. Sharabh Niyogy gifted his grandfather an umbrella to give him shade in his final journey. They tell me it’s an especially holy thing if a grandson can give it. I know it was an especially beautiful moment when Vicky and Rahul held the umbrella over his ‘Thakur’s photograph.
5. The deep rituals of mourning do bring you to a sense of closure because there is a sense of relief when you can return to your normal clothes and diet and so on. One is finally ready to let the departed go, which is exactly as it should be. This is the first close death in my family since I’ve been old enough to follow the rules and understand what they do to me.
6. Vicky’s mother is doing much better but she looks dreadfully fragile. I’m considering a divorce when I turn forty so that I do not get that dependent on a mere man.
7. When a little boy loses his ‘Thakur’, he turns more clingingly to his ‘Ramdadu’.* One can never be replaced by the other, but the other can understand this loss like nobody else in this little boy’s world. Grandmothers are good things, but little boys have need of grandfathers too.
8. I thought there was nobody left to refer to me as his ‘putrobodhu’ (son’s wife) but Baba’s oldest sister called me that when introducing me to some relatives and it comforted me strangely. Not all is gone while some remain.
9. There is a strong bond in sitting down with Vicky for a pujo. We both gifted six items (land symbolised by grain and some cloth; clothes; food; water; a towel; and something else I can’t remember just now) to Brahmins as offerings for Baba. It was a puja we performed together and I felt a wife to him in the truest sense of “life-sharer”. Marriage has its own ties.
10. So many people came to mourn him and their grief was so genuine. I’m not the kind of person to inspire that simple kind of liking but I hope when my turn comes the grief is that genuine.
*Rahul called his paternal grandfather 'thakurda', a very old-fashioned term that his grandfather requested for. A true Gemini, he always recognised the power of words. I didn’t realise how beautiful it would sound until Rahul actually started saying it. Mostly, he’d shorten it to “thakur” which means “God” and that sounded even more beautiful.
My father has always called Rahul “daduram”, another very old-fashioned and very non-citified term for a grandson. A few weeks ago Rahul pointed to Bubbles’ grandfather and insisted that grandfathers were called “daduram”. Or, alternatively, Ramdadu. Which is roughly where matters stand just now. Dadu or Ramdadu. All the more since Thakur is not around.