It is International Women’s Day today. My inbox is flooded with Happy Women’s Day messages. Today my thoughts are with one woman. A woman I know but slightly. She is my friend’s sister. And today she has lost her son. All of twenty-three he is, no, was, a strapping young lad who was in the Indian Army. I do not know the circumstances of his death. But today, I doubt it matters to her. What matters is he is no more.
I remember her. Full of life, smiling, happy, a teacher in a local school. Having gone through the trauma of losing her husband early on and faced with the challenge of bringing up a little son. Now the son is gone too. I can see how their home must be today. Throngs of relatives, oceans of concern, the unavoidable buzz of activity as the last rites are planned and performed. In all of this she must be sitting. Stunned. I wish I could reach out to her in some way. But I don’t even have the courage to go there. And what is there to say really?
Hindu traditions being what they are she would be left behind in the emptiness of the home that had seen his first halting steps, heard his exultant shout on being selected into the NDA, the million images would be pressing down on her, her alone as the men-folk make their way to the cemetery. In all her grief to have to look out for an even older mother… who has had to see three members of the family bid an untimely farewell. Who will be the consoler and who the consoled?
And I don’t know if I can face you either my friend. I shall be a coward and not meet you today. I wish for the three of you that you find some way of holding on to sanity, of finding meaning in life again. I don’t know how, I don’t know from where. But I pray really hard that it comes to you. I wish I could do more.