Monday, February 27, 2017

What you can learn in 811 days


My dad died two and a half years ago. Two and a half is a general, all encompassing amount of time. Drill it down a little and you get 2 years, 2 months and 19 days. If you have to get really specific it's 811 days. However hard it is to lose someone, it is also horrible not knowing how you actually lost that person. For 811 days we didn't know how it happened or what happened. 811 days of waking up and imagining what might have taken place on that horrible night between the 23rd and 24th of November, 2014. All I could think of was how terrible to not have your loved ones around you or someone to hold your hand, instead to be surrounded by darkness and evil and no one to help.

We've muddled through these 811 days, trying to continue and on the most part surrounded by so much love and support that we will be eternally grateful for. But it also seemed to bring out the most insensitive side of people - having to listen to the negativity and the long list of theories was exhausting and gutting. You couldn't blame the "speculators" either, but it didn't make it easy for us. Particularly for my mom who had to deal with a physical illness on top of everything else. I actually got a call last year from someone who wanted me to help with something and then went off on to a rant about how inconvenienced he was by my dad's death. I was so furious I could have reached through the phone and slapped him. But we learned to ignore all that was inconsequential. It taught us resilience.

Trying to wrap up the gazillion things that needed to be worked on was arduous and continues. People were unsure and shying away because of the circumstances. But we plodded along and learnt patience.

Not getting a chance to say goodbye or to grieve because you had to deal with investigations, or mom's immediate illness, and the constant stress of trying to manage their work in Delhi and in Bangalore didn't give us a moment to think straight. But maybe it was a way of helping us cope, keeping us so occupied that we had no choice but to keep going. We learned to take it one day at a time.

However hard it is, we have come even closer together, fiercely protective of all the memories we have left with my dad. We learnt appreciation and gratitude for all he gave us.

But we bumbled on, never sure if we would ever find out what happened. But on day 809, my crazy Sarina, who has worked in my house for several years now, scared the living daylights out of me when I was sitting down to lunch. She was tidying up in the bedroom when she walked over to the front door and opened it. I wasn't paying attention as I was immersed in lunch, when I heard her announce loudly that my dad was at the door. I thought I had misheard, so asked her again. She repeated herself and pointed to the open door. I froze, unsure of why she would joke like this. She carried on for a while and I just told her calmly to shut the door and sit down. She looked visibly upset that I couldn't see what she could and kept saying that she really thought he was there, while I tried to console her and explain that she had probably been remembering him and thought she saw him. She looked at me sadly and walked away.

Two days later Sid's phone rang. It was the police. They had caught the guys involved in my dad's case. 811 days later, when we thought we would never be able to make sense of what happened that night, we finally had some explanation. I learnt that day to not lose hope and to have a little faith, even if I couldn't see what Sarina could.

A whirlwind of two weeks with a visit to Bangalore to meet with the police and the subsequent public announcement about the arrests brought back Day 1 in sharp definition. It was in some ways good to have some answers, but it reinforced the sadness and futility of it all - a robbery gone so wrong. Avarice and greed that was never even fulfilled because my dad got in their way.

It made us imagine how it all could have played out differently - what if he had not woken up and given them a reason to silence him. They would have just taken what they wanted and left our house and he would have been around to rant and rave today with us about all that is unjust in this world. But then that wasn't him. He did what came instinctively to him - to protect.

And so we continue to bumble along. Closure is a strange word. In reality it has cracks and crevices through which the past oozes in. Finding out what happens changes so much and yet changes so little.

But however hard and shocking a life incident can be, you have to look back and see what you learn from it (and hopefully will continue to do so).  We carry on and I'd like to believe, like Sarina, that he pops by once in a while to check in on us (and that he's not pissed I shut the door the last time!). Over 800 days later he shines on in our hearts and heads more brilliant than ever, and that's something they couldn't rob us off.