Four years back, my aunt passed away.
When the news reached me, I was in the middle of a meeting, in a city a thousand miles away from home. I froze as I saw the message. I was close to my Aunt. She was an intrinsic part of our life. And the fact that she was no more, I just couldn’t think something like this happening.
“She’s no more,”
The finality of those few words hung heavily over me. Even though I continued attending the meeting for the next twenty minutes, a blankness drew over my eyes. Only one thought in my mind, the two boys she had left behind her. The younger one not even ten yet. And they were now alone, for their father had died too, few years before that. They were left without a parent.
As soon as the meeting ended, I got out of the meeting room and took out the mobile to call Sahil, the elder one of the two. But then I stopped, just before tapping on his name on the contact list. “What will I say?” I thought, the heaviness of the question looming over me. “Let it go,” I had told him when his father had passed away. I remember how broken he was. How utterly devastated. “Support your mother!” I had said as he had looked at me with moist eyes, not understanding how that could have happened to him!
“But what will I say now? Let it go, again? How many times!”
Letting go is hard
Let it go – It is the easiest advice to give. Most logical too. The past can’t be undone. What has happened has happened. The show must go on. There is nothing else you can do about it. The time is an arrow arrow that moves only in one direction. Has been moving forward since eternity. And will continue to do so. Until the infinity, The end of time.
But as easy as this advice is to give, it is the hardest to employ when it comes to ourselves.
How should you let go, when you see your father turning into memory? Your mother sickening with pain. Living each day with a guilt. “He would have survived,” she would cry. “Only if I hadn’t asked him to fetch the grocery from the market. Only if I had gone herself. Only if he had missed my call.”
“Only if …”
This ‘Only If’ becoming the scaffolding over which her existence now sustained. A self-destructive scaffolding which was pulling her down into a quagmire. A guilt overpowering every aspect of her life. Every waking moment in the beginning, and then the dreams in her sleep too.
It’s not easy to let go when you see your younger brother suddenly becomes quiet not seeing his father around anymore. Even though he is a child, he can sense the change in the air, dark clouds hovering above them. So he stops asking questions. Stops smiling. Stop being the child he should have been.
Your pain is your pain. The others can only scratch the surface. Only share words which you don’t want to listen. The boiling lava is inside you. How would they know? Its heat burning you from within. Slowly turning into a wildfire, its tongue lashing the every moment of your existence. Wreaking havoc in your mind and life. Shakes the very foundation of that thing you call life. Making you question the purpose of your existence.
It was a few years back when I fell into this death-hold of asking “What If?” Not being able to let go.
My girlfriend left me. I was in college then and I didn’t know how to handle this. This made each day a lifetime of pain for me. I had no answers for why thing happened the way they did. “How could this happen to me?” I would think. “We were destined to live together.”
It was then that I realized how difficult it is to ‘let it go.’ No amount of advice made sense then. The words sounded hollow, superficial. It’s my pain, the voice echoed in my head, every time someone said those three words to me.
Those three words would create a storm inside me. Storm of a thousand emotions. Sometimes of anger, at others anguish. One moment I would become angry at the reasons which led us to this moment, how she could do that to me. And then at others, I would cry, wistfully thinking what if things had not happened the way they did. I could have done things differently! And then suddenly I would feel that I should not waste away my life. That I would get up and get going, feeling that life would change. But only for some time, for the dark hands of despair would again envelop me. And i would sink down the sea of sorrow again.
I was stuck in this loop, a loop of anger and despair and hope.
Even today, looking back, a couple of years I came out of that death-hole, I dread those moments, dread feeling those moments again.
The ability to let go should have powerful evolutionary advantages. Such people could move on quicker than the others who cling on to their pasts, their hopes. These people can move on from one catastrophe to another, moving on to find a better life. A better living.
So they why didn’t we evolve into a species devoid of its fascination with pasta? Why we cling on? Why we have this urge to replay past events and give then a color of our wishes, our hopes, and desires that can never become true?