I thought I was never really close to my Aaji (grandmother). She became paralysed and suffered from many illnesses ever since I was too young to remember, so we barely interacted. When she passed away a few years back, I did not cry. I could not grieve as much as my mother did, or as my uncles and aunts did. I guess I am a bit like my father in that sense, not too emotional. A few years earlier when my grandfather had passed away, I remember everyone in my house crying, even those who barely knew him. I remember my father walking in from work, straight-faced, he touched my grandfather’s feet and went in to change. I thought my father wasn’t grieving his own parent’s death, but I have come to realise that everyone has their own way of dealing with grief.
Similarl, I think I still sometimes grieve my Aaji’s passing. I have come to realise I was closer to this woman in my life than I thought. When I was born, my Aaji stitched one of her sarees into a blanket for me. It was violet in colour and the softest fabric you’ll ever touch in your life. I have since grown out of the blanket by many inches, but I still keep it beside me as I sleep. On nights that I find it difficult to sleep, I hold the blanket close to me. I like to think of the immense warmth it gives as the love my Aaji filled it with when she first stitched it. I am 20 years old now, and I still cannot find peaceful slumber without the violet blanket.
My Aaji suffered from memory loss for about ten years. It got worse every day. The one thing I remember most though is that she would even forget her own sons and husband and mistake them for nurses or doctors. But in the twelve years that she was that way, she never forgot me. She always remembered me as her granddaughter, Sayali. I don’t think I appreciated that enough. And I think I still grieve for that to this day.
I have been fortunate enough to not lose too many people close to me yet. I have not experienced grief as much as many near me have, but I think I understand the weight it carries. The loss of a person is beyond anything that can be expressed in words. It is, however, something that is inevitable far too many times in one’s life. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004), a pioneering psychiatrist on near-death studies, once said that one will “grieve forever. There is no ‘getting over’ the loss of a loved one. We simply learn to live with it.” That quote has stuck in my head ever since her death. The loss stays with you forever, and it changes you in ways big or small. Just like my Aaji left behind the violet blanket of comfort for me, everyone will leave a part of their life with you to grieve over, the remnants of the time you once spent together. It might feel like a burden, in the beginning, but you come to accept it as part of your life eventually. It makes you strive to be a better person than you were yesterday.
Sayali Korgaonkar is a writer at heart and an aspiring journalist, who is passionate about telling stories.
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