Shaheen Rajan

I am shook. I just learnt that I lost my nana, dadu and mamu all in the same year, the year I got married, and I am beyond astonished as to how do I not remember that? I remember a bit of my nana’s funeral but that’s about it. The rest has been wiped for me memory.

I remember my dadu, alive, telling us the same story every day when we returned from school. It was about a parrot and crow, latter being greedy and eventually ending up with a bag of shit. She would tell us the story in Gujrati and we would only understand half of it, yet we all cuddled around her and listened to it like it was the most important story we’ll ever hear.

I remember my mamu as well, alive and smiling, always bringing us goodies whenever he visited. He would put his hand on our heads whenever we said hello or goodbye, as a gesture of blessing us. I remember that rather vividly. And the snacks – those black pepper chips.

And my nana..I have this memory of us visiting his place for dinner. He was already weak and his hand shivered. My mom is the only sister to 4 brothers, and had an endearing rapport with my nana. I remember her pushing him to shave before dinner. “You need not look so old when you really aren’t”, she said. He had a good sense of humour, and would often joke with all of us, about how young he is and how he ought to marry again. He sat on the dining table, with his shaving stuff (mirror, razor, shaving cream, foaming brush, and a bowl of water), and removed white stubble off his face. Then he demanded that the dinner be served immediately for the handsome young man (himself). Everyone loved him dearly. I remember his smile and white hair, oiled back. And how his radio was always on. It may be the reason why I became a radio jockey in Karachi.

I remember them and think about them too, yet I didn’t register the date that they died. And I know I do this consciously. I never want to see a beloved’s face after they have passed. I never want that as my last memory of them. I want to remember them alive and smiling and happy. Hence I disassociate myself, mentally and emotionally, from funerals.

I had this discussion with someone recently and they said that people often insist on seeing their loved ones before burial to get a closure. To get some kind of finality for the life lived. It may work for some, but it doesn’t work for me.

Marium Hosein recently talked about grief and loss on her Instagram account, and then Mother India mentioned how heavy 2013 was for her, and that got me thinking about the different ways people grieve. And I know my way is neither preferred nor accepted by many, but it is my way, and this is what helps me deal.

I never want to see a lifeless body of someone I love.

I want to be made into a plant after I die (with biodegradable burial pods) – after all my functioning organs are donated.

Excuse me if this was too morbid a read for you. I wanted to put it out there for anyone who feels that their need to disassociate themselves from funerals is an oddity – you are not alone.

Grieving and dealing with loss is a personal journey, and everyone has the right to pick a route that works best for them. Including you and I.