1: A tribute to the last week of being a teenager

It’s going to be my twentieth birthday in two days. All the growing up I have had to do has happened within a span of seven days instead of 10 years.

24th of March, 2014 has till date been the worst Monday of my life. One of my dearest friends committed suicide.

I’m usually not one to support emotional writing, especially on my blog, because I feel that my opinions that I express here should be carefully thought out and balanced. But to possibly convey the depth of something as devastating as this is beyond words. For a long while I rambled on and on in my diary, trying to provide some form of expression to the sudden, mind-numbing grief that made time stop around me.

I discovered what true grief feels like. I discovered what it means to remember all the memories that were said and done, and more importantly, all the things that were left unsaid. There is this silent screaming that goes on inside, and the only thing you can do about it is wear a smile on top and pretend that everything is proceeding as normal. Only 7 of my friends know, because I don’t want anyone to pity me, or know the turmoil that I am going through.

More so, this is a suicide. There’s a large blame factor involved, although you cannot blame anyone. The sole authority who had to shoulder the blame has left us all on this earth to seek his happiness in a place far beyond us. I used to think that Death was the sort of happiness that is earned when you have survived life’s challenges. This restful, complete, full sleep untouched by any sort of sorrow or fear is a paradise that can only be earned. Except my friend has acquired it at a cost that is too expensive for us to bear.

I don’t think my wounds have healed enough that I can write a respectable eulogy to him. Or maybe keep writing eulogies to him forever.

I have discovered how strong I am. I never thought that I would have to go through this, but he has left me with no choice but to be strong on his behalf. His mother had called me earlier in the day asking of his whereabouts. I had spent the last month being upset with him because he simply refused to pick up my calls, talk to me or hang out with me. I have sent him several ignored texts and messages through ever possible communication media. When his parents called, and I was worried, I began to search for him all over campus, sure that I would find him physically. I waited. I searched. I wandered. Repeat.

He wasn’t anywhere. He was literally off the grid for four hours and nobody knew where he was. I excused his absences as perhaps a chance occurrence, maybe he wasn’t around when I had got to the venue. Maybe he went to buy a new phone and was distracted. Maybe networks were down. Maybe there were a million reasons that he couldn’t be there.

Turns out that there a million reasons he left us all. Except I cannot extrapolate what they are.

Later on in the evening, we were all informed of a demise on campus. I have never survived blind shock, but I know now that the only way I was functioning was on some sort of auto-pilot.

25th of March left me with the conflicted discovery of managing the waves of grief. First came the phase in which I felt nothing. I was empty and numb and filled with memories of him. The way he touched my hair. The arguments we had. The times when he, his younger brother and I were a trio. Our myriad adventures. Our myriad stories. The promises we made, and the promises that are left broken. He had promised to get me rain-boots on my birthday, and now he will never be able to celebrate my birthday.

Perhaps the waves of grief were compounded by the fact that this friend had once asked me out. He wanted me to be closer to him emotionally. My reasons for graciously declining were many: his mental instability (perhaps we was projecting another’s feelings onto me?), the fact that his mother and I were really close and this would have been a problem, the fact that he didn’t know me well enough to let me be so intimate with him.

I blamed myself for a while, unable to suppress the survivor’s guilt. I blamed myself for not being proactive enough. For not reaching out to him enough. For not being able to change his mind. I also carry the hidden layer of blame that maybe if I had agreed to the relationship, we both could have been in an infinitely happier place. More maybes. More what-ifs. More what-could-have-beens. I am not prepared to deal with the world at all.

I was conflicted about whether  should I tell his friends or not. Making a pathetic transient Facebook post is not something he would have liked, and it would only earn me the sympathy of many, not the respect of his memory. I am desperately searching for ways to remember him, to contain this flood of memories and feelings and emotions, to accept this pain because it is taking a lot out of me.

26th of March was the first time I went to a funeral. It was beautiful. And terrible. The family is beyond devastated. The younger brother is in denial. They broke down once again, when they saw me. I have to step up to fill in the shoes that he left behind. I have to be the surrogate older sibling. I have to be the replacement, if such a deplorable word be used, daughter to fill the gap in their hearts. I know I will never be able to take up such a responsibility completely, but I have to try.

This grief is so tiring. It is so exhausting. It remains like a heavy weight begging for expression, even when every single tear that could be cried has been wept, and every possible despair that could be felt has been felt. Why did he have to go? Why is this so hard? Why is there this never-ending capacity to feel pain and compassion?

As my professor said, “The human spirit cannot be denied to right to search for light, when it is in the darkness.”  He is in the light now. He is so eternally peaceful. He looked so rested in the box, and the world around his is destabilizing.

Everything that is now Sikh, or Punjabi or that remotely reminds me of him in any way has now become a source of attachment. Now that he has gone, I will do my best to respect the culture that he was raised in, so I can remember him in a fashion that feels right. There is no right for these things.

Afterwards, I was informed that when his phone was recovered, he had deleted all of his contacts except four of them. His father. His mother. His brother. Me. Even in his dying moments, he chose to think of me. I cannot even comprehend the depth of how much I touched him. His mother wept into my shoulder as she held me tight. “Take care of yourself. Children never know just how valuable they are to their parents. You are so special to us, you will never understand.”

The dry spell on my soul has lifted. I have to let this sorrow out.  I must depart abruptly now. I promise to come back later.

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