Let grief speak

 

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Category: Reflections 04 Feb 07

 

ďEven in the quietest moments, I wish I knew, what I had to do. And even when the sun is shining, I feel the rain, here it comes again, dear.Ē

Supertramp

 

Hope you wonít think me morbid if I write of loss. Or the fact that I still canít get over that I was so close on hand witnessing the death of someone I love. I hope you wonít think me self-indulgent.

 

But I am being polite. I know you wonít because so many of you have written to me, with your own stories of loss after I opened up about mine.

 

Iíve always felt that it was the duty of a journalist to speak for people who didnít have a voice. The illiterate, the poor, the forgotten, the ill, the very young and the neglected elderly. The powerless people in need of housing, healthcare, affordable food, sustainable education.

 

It seemed almost obscene to write about the needs of the people who have a decent standard of living in a developing country where a mass of our wretched people have an impossibly slippery and treacherous mountain to climb if they want to get out of the poverty cycle: too many children, too few fathers, illiteracy and poorly paid jobs that involve hard labour.

 

Its converse being dependency creating handouts from the government, the lure of easy drug money, and in the absence of the power of an education, the power of the gun.

 

Thatís why every day, every news hour, journalists pound the pavements, covering the bad newsóthe chronically deaf government arrogantly staring down its people dying of bullets, state medical neglect, entirely forgotten in rural areas where they wander illiterate, poor, without infrastructure or education as if to say ďbounce me nah.Ē

 

They are the only ones that count.

 

Lonely memories

 

Or so I thought until I wrote the piece about my brotherís death. I realised from the dozens of e-mail that there are thousands of people around us who are too choked with grief to speak.

 

They didnít give themselves permission to speak because they didnít think grief counted as suffering. They have running water and jobs.

 

My cousin Sonia called me from Bhopal after my brother died on the last day of last year and said you donít have to say anything. Join the club. Her brother died young too. I didnít have to tell her about the sudden tears in an ordinary day. She knew before I finished the sentence. I didnít have to speak of a lost shared childhood.

 

Memories get lonely too.

 

I didnít have to tell her about the heightened senses. The everyday marvelling that I am here, breathing in rain drenched earth, freshly mown grass, the surge of laughter, the relief that it exists in the world, and now, when a child interrupts me to tell me about her day, I stop whatever I am doing because I know whatís important.

 

I didnít have to tell her about the aching tenderness with which I see my parents. She knew.

 

Witnessing death with love is the ultimate rite of passage. A privilege.

 

It makes you live twice as hard. Value seconds.

 

Except when itís butchery. Except when a time comes when the middle class is being attacked at its most vulnerable point. Sons beheaded, businesswomen kidnapped, elderly grandparents hacked to death, grandchildren wallowing in grandparents blood.

 

When the middle class shuts down you realise there is no country. Nothing left to drive.

 

At the head of this barbaric monster into which we have mutated is the powerful deaf, at the tail, the murderous poor. There is no middle. It is hemorrhaging. Murdered?

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur