2010 was a cruel teacher. It taught me lessons I didn’t want to learn, made me face truths I scarcely imagine existed, it made me look deep inside me, it showed me my ugly side but worst of all and funnily, maybe even the best, was when it pushed me into that deep dark well on whose edge I have always stood, trembling knees, shivering body and a breath stuck in my throat, 2010 finally pushed me into that well. I fell down, splintered into pieces, my happy world splattered on the walls of the well, I lay bleeding and just when I was about to breathe my last, it offered me its hand and told me to stand up again. And in all that, it gave me a precious thing: It taught me how to lose. To cope with loss. How to be completely alone, without even those who gave me birth.
I remember it was summer holidays and Priya and I were loitering around in her society when we found out Pari’s mother had died. I was only in my 10th grade. I had never heard of death before. I had never seen a dead body before. I knew something like death existed, I wasn’t that naive, but by all means, it was an alien concept to me.
Pari’s mom’s story spread like wildfire through the town. She was in love with another man; she knew she could not marry him. Pari’s family was one of the well known families in the town and her mother’s love affair had become the talk of the town. There were constant fights at home, and finally it all had led Pari’s mum to commit suicide.
I remember standing a few days later at the same spot, with Priya, where Pari’s mother had apparently lain while waiting for the morning fast train, and wondering, “Will it be my mom next?”. And if so, will dad bring another mom home? Will she be like Pari’s step mother? I was afraid even before I fully understood what it meant to be afraid.
I remember sitting by the window at 2am in the night praying to god to please send Dad back home. I couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving us, his threats indigestible.What would happen to us? I knew mom couldn’t work. What will I tell my school friends if I had to drop out of school? I could never grapple with it.
Looking back, I realise, I have lived my entire life being afraid. Afraid that someone I love, someone I care about, someone whom I am dependent on will leave me and then what will become of me? I have lived in constant fear; fear that first parents would leave, then friends, then the men in my life.
And I never realised it, but this fear was all pervasive, under the covers, invisible, but always present. Subconsciously affecting everything I did. I loved people more than I loved myself. Not because I am noble, but because I was selfish. I loved them, ’cause I was scared they would leave me. So I loved them. So I could keep them with me, close to me. And I never learnt to cope with loss. My losing mechanism permanently damaged, broken.
That acquaintance I don’t give a rat’s ass about? Let him stop talking to me and see how I go in my panic mode. I can’t handle it. I can’t see anyone walking out of my life. Why do I care so much about what others think of me? ‘Cause I can’t afford to have them think bad about me. Cause wouldn’t that mean they would just leave me? I ran after people who didn’t matter, after fake friendships, after hollow relationships, ’cause though they didn’t matter, and somewhere I knew they didn’t matter, I could never be okay with losing anyone. I hoarded relationships, people, like an ant would hoard food, saving it for a cold wintry evening.
So much energy lost in preserving friendships that didn’t matter. So much love lost. So much time spent in mending broken relationships that weren’t ever meant to be. So much lost, in this quest for not losing.
And then one day you realise you anyway have lost it all. You anyway have lost them all. You don’t have them after all that running around, after all that begging, pleading, loving. And you sit dumbfounded and you realise how truly alone you are. And that’s how everyone is. And that, it’s okay.
And that’s what you learn, when you learn to fend for yourself, you understand that nothing bad can ever happen.You can still survive.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.