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Featured Posts of 2019

From the vortex of grief: On toxic positivity

 I have not written for a while now, because I have been upset at my reality and the dissonance between that and what I wanted. I had expected my father's recovery to be slow and arduous, but I was completely unprepared for the emotional state it left him in. I have seen my father as a strong and resilient individual, and he has overcome many setbacks in his life. And so, I expected this setback to be temporary too. That within no time, he would go back to an optimistic state of mind and take on his old roles in the family. Maybe not physically, but at least emotionally.  But what has happened is the opposite. He has been extremely depressed; his emotions are very fragile. In the middle of a normal conversation, he would start sobbing. At first, I didn't even know how to react to this. I was just frozen, trying to take in this new identity of the man I had known all along as my father. Gradually, it worsened. He slept very poorly, restless all night, crying out in pain. He frea

From the vortex of grief: The aftermath of trauma

 It was a Tuesday night just like any other. Actually, it was better than many others. It was around 9.30pm, and I'd gotten through all my tasks early, and was feeling quite relaxed. I sought happiness in small things that night. All I wanted was to take a long hot bath before turning in, and I was greedy about how much water I wanted. The geyser gave me one full bucket of hot water, and I wanted two. So I went about this silly and elaborate procedure- turned on the geyser, let out a full bucket of steaming hot water, and turned it back on again, while I sat and waited. Feeling utterly serene and relaxed, I called up an old friend. We spoke, laughed, and reminisced. Then, at 10pm came the call that shattered my world and turned everything topsy-turvy. My father was battling for his life. After an entire night spent in the corridor of the ICU, I came back home to that bucket of water. Cold and lifeless, just like the way I felt. If you're a regular reader of my blog, by now, you

From the vortex of grief: The voids of pain

Four months have passed since that dreadful day in November.  At times, I feel that I've fully accepted this "new normal". But my grasp on reality is fragile. Like hanging on to a cliff's edge by holding on to a few bushes. The leaves snap, and I go careening down, not knowing if I'll survive or be smashed to smithereens. Then, I find another handhold or foothold, and feel secure for a while, till I go tumbling yet again. And so it goes. Today is one of the falling days. As was yesterday and the day before. Sometimes, the trigger is merely seeing someone else's reality. A friend said to me "When I go home, my parents take care of everything. I love that carefree feeling." I struggled not to break down then and there, and suppressed the howls of anguish that threatened to erupt. Here I was discussing diapers and bedpans with my Mom, and planning out all the things I had to do over the weekend and coming. Would I ever have that carefree feeling again?

From the vortex of grief: Fault lines of relationships

 It has been more than a 100 days at the hospital. Other than my dad, undoubtedly, the two people most affected by this are my Mom and me. She has lost her career, the comfort of her home and the security and strength of an able spouse. I am flailing in my personal life and career, having lost the strong physical, mental and emotional support I used to get from my parents. Both of us are seeing someone we love being reduced to a pitiful state. And it has broken us completely. All of this is understandable and quite expected. But the difficult part was this- I thought we'd be broken together. That we'd be there to support each other and help each other heal. My mom thought the same. After all, we love each other so deeply. And we are both strong and independent women. Yet, we both have been disappointed on this, and we feel more alone than before. Ever since this incident happened, our differences are even more marked. We end up arguing and hurl hurtful words at each other, addi

From the vortex of grief: Words are all I have

 My dad's hospitalization has now hit the three month mark. His mind and body are out of sync. His mind has recovered, and he craves conversation, discussion and knowledge. But his body is still weak, paralysed, tired. He also realizes with a shock that society now treats him differently from before- he has gone from a respected professional to the dreaded "invalid". He feels trapped in his existence, and is morose and sad most of the time. Understandably so. In our times of sickness, we expect people to be there for us. To comfort us, and hold our hands through it. And our first circle of connections did do that, for the first couple of weeks. But beyond that, everyone had their own lives to get back to. Even me. I spent more than a month at the hospital, and then I too had to get back. By now, even the calls from relatives, friends and ex-colleagues have dwindled down. Knowing my work commitments, I did not make any unreasonable promises. I promised to visit the hospita

From the vortex of grief: On mountains and molehills

 It has been two months since my father's stroke. He is still in the hospital, and his road to recovery has been full of setbacks. He tried eating a mouthful of food daily for a couple of days, but that only worsened his chest congestion and breathing. He had to be put on suction for three days after that, to just go back to where was a week before--tube feeding. Similarly, he was started on physiotherapy. The very first day, he was made to sit on a wheelchair, and his pulse and BP plummeted frighteningly. He had to be kept on oxygen and several other medications for days just for his vitals to come back to where they were before. Anytime we tried to push towards recovery, we immediately encountered a hurdle. All of us, myself included, were feeling the strain and pain of these two months. So much effort, time and money, and it felt like everything was in vain. My dad, a staunch South Indian, missed his idlis and dosas . After having tasted those spoonfuls of food after more than

From the vortex of grief: The isolation of experience, and the connection of emotions

When this drastic event happened in my life, I experienced a bunch of emotions. Gradually, I learned to embrace the grief, inhabit the cold realm of despair, and to breathe through the hot waves of pain. But I was unprepared for the loneliness I experienced. Before, I had a bunch of people I was close to. After, I felt like I was the last human being on earth. This made me feel really depressed. What was the point of life if you had to go through your darkest moments alone? Could anyone really be there for you? Or was life a solitary journey from birth to death? Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I didn't have people who tried to support me. I did, and I still do. But very little of their support actually reached me. I felt like there was an insurmountable barrier between them and me, and no words or actions could transcend that. For instance, I would tell a friend what I had been going through, and that person would say something. I'm sure they would mean well. Bu