Eight years ago, life was almost picture prefect. I was heading one of India’s leading Pvt Sector Bank branches in Mysore, Tanmoy and I had been married for 5 months after knowing each other for 12 yrs and he had shifted to Mysore by taking a sabbatical from his medical profession to pursue MD.
That year, I had visited Berhampore to celebrate Durga Pujo after ages. Two days at my parents house and two days at my marital home was how we had workedout the schedule and pujo couldn’t have a better arrangement. Ma looked quite fragile but that was justified since she was recovering from weakness due to a low hemoglobin count. A change of place was the need of the hour. So we decided to surprise my parents by booking their tickets to Mysore for Dec’11.
The day we left Berhampore in October, she had been crying nonstop. But she was prone to getting sentimental every time I went back to college or work after a vacation. Little did I know that her tear stained face trying to act brave for the sake of her daughter was the last time that I would see her. On the night of 11th Nov 2011, she was admitted to a private hospital in Berhampore with complains of pain in the abdomen. She was kept in the ICU as Baba and my marital family ran around trying to figure out what might have happened.
Sitting thousands of kilometers away, Tanmoy, who probably was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation, kept coordinating with the doctors while I was trying to get a car to take us to Bangalore airport the next morning and book the earliest flight to Kolkata. That night, we understood the meaning of ‘fear’ of losing a near one.
Around 6:25 am the next morning (12th Nov), Baba called. He insisted on talking to Tanmoy who, by then was desperately trying to figure out a way to bring Ma to a hospital to Kolkata. Baba’s voice confirmed our worst fear. We had lost Ma to pancreatitis. She had opened her eyes for a moment to see Baba, smiled at him, and within a fraction of a second, my 56-year-old mother had left us forever. By the time, we could reach Berhampore from Mysore after two road journeys and one flight trip, it was already 4 am the next day. Her body had started showing signs of decomposition the previous evening and Baba had no choice but to go ahead with the cremation before we could even reach.
Now, I dread the time after pujo every year. In the last few years, my emotions in November have gone from denial to anger, acceptance to numbness. From not wanting to visit Berhampore ever again to returning back to Kolkata for good, I have been trying to live without her. Writing has always been my mechanism of coping up with the feelings related to the permanent void in my life.
With time, I tried every possible route to fight back my November numbness. I took up extra projects during my Banking job to keep myself occupied, I participated in NaNoWriMo last year to keep myself distracted, I insisted on taking a family vacation and even ensured spending every possible minute with Tuneer this month. But grief is that unwanted guest who crawls into one’s life without any intention to leave. And in my aching heart, it has found a permanent abode.
However much I wish, I know that my mind and heart will always be out of sync for most part of this month. My family portrait will never ever be complete, my son will grow up without the love and affection of his Dimma, and I will always wish that I could delete November from my life forever.