Her words still ring in my head.
"Be emotionally independent."
I guess this is one of the most important lessons she left me with. As I am coming to terms with her loss, trying to shrug the reality by imposing solitude, I realize more than letting the loss bequeath me, I'm trying to arm myself with emotional independence to honor her memory.
I met her at a time, when I had started writing poetry. I was in my early twenties, confused and callously letting life pass by. I had no motives in life and I didn't know if I would ever reach anywhere. The only motto at that time was to get married, reproduce and keep a job.
We used to attend poetry readings at IHC and the american embassy together, sometimes sitting down for a coffee if time allowed us. She was elder to me by two years and that gave her the authority to treat me with an iron hand sometimes, while I would shyly coil and keep nodding, accepting her rebuking with a smile.
Life was changing colours and we got used to talking to each other everyday. For a private person like me, who has always stood guard to her secrets, other than sharing tid-bits of life on facebook, befriending her was a blessing in disguise. She wasn't a gossip monger, infact we both hated people who did too much of idle talk. By the time mid-twenties descended on us and then the late-twenties arrived, our worries of living with the stigma of marriage sexism thickened our friendship.
We joked about the guys who came over to meet her and the guys whom I never met. I was luckier with the "penn kannal chadang" or "ladki dekhna" stories, since I didn't have any to share. Unlike her parents, mine never forced me to meet or pose prettily in front of prospective grooms. That was a breather, because her stories always made me feel distraught. To be judged on the basis of skin colour, educational qualifications or wealth is the greatest social evil that the arranged marriages are committing against young women and men. We women are a disadvantaged lot here, since to get into the good books of a guy's family we have to contort ourselves to fit into their whims and fancies.
Strangely, thorough all these testing times she never shed the confidence she had. She knew the knack of living life for today.
At one point of time, we both were so harried and bored of the "ladki dekhna" stories that we decided to start writing about them. She wanted to see a funny anecdote arise out of it someday.
A day before her death, we did exchange conversations before hitting the sack.
I never knew the morning sun would burn my world. I had never anticipated that she would leave so soon.
When I received her father's phone call in the morning, I was too numbed to even cry. Infact I haven't wailed until this day. Perhaps, the coldness and apathy existing in our world has poached on my sanity.
Why she did it is still a question that haunts me? Why didn't she share her grief with me is another question. Whenever I am home, I try and visit her house, looking for answers to these questions that haunt me. Sometimes I give myself solace by thinking of it as the only way out of the mess she was in.
The last time I have ever grieved was for grandma, four years ago. We all were there sharing each others sorrows, me and my family.
This time it's a different story. I have to sail through the troubled waters all on my own, taking one day at a time.
The beauty of life is that it gives you a reason to move on. Sometimes it's work, or it's another friend/s or perhaps drowning yourself in the simple pleasures of life.
As she is gone, I'm trying to live on the one principle she strongly believed in. To love myself more than anyone and to leave a little room for others in my life, in case they want to walk out on me.
Her lessons in self-love and self-esteem shall always stay with me, and no matter how many people come and go from my life, she will remain one of the most beautiful human beings life ever gifted me.