People mourn differently, that was the theme of last week in my life. This week it’s about throwing myself into my studies without any qualms and restrictions. It’s time for full immersion. The post-its and highlighters are out sitting on my table like ammunition in wartime.
It feels good and natural, although one can’t help question their intelligence. My mother and I needed to get out over the weekend, I call it a need because both our heads were elsewhere, both of us needed to breathe so we could accept what was and move ahead counting what we had.
I don’t grieve, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I work. My grief shows itself in a rapid urge to do something. I’ve been smiling, when I talk about it and people apologise to me like my family’s loss is their fault I feel nothing. As a digression, why do we apologise for no fault of ours? I hate others feeling sorry for me. But I also understand they don’t really know what to say at that moment, anything they would say would be tricky, would be met with an awkward reaction.
I ploughed ahead with life, you know moving from one moment to the next. The void somehow fills itself, the mind finds a way to proceed. Some people freeze, and time goes slow for them. In my case, I run at the sight of something that leaves me uncomfortable, like my father I’d rather not address it at all. It’s not a very healthy practice but it’s not something I can help.
I’ve made an abundance of post-its, I have lined up multiple meetings, giving myself no time to pause and reflect on my feelings. The number of post-its is directly proportional to my degree of restlessness. Of course, it doesn’t seem sustainable, but it’s how I’ve always been. At least to the outside world, it’ll seem strange. So yesterday my mother and I went for the longest walk we’ve both walked together. We saw it all while walking alongside the Thames, stopping by little hints at London’s past.
We enjoyed it, we walked until our feet were sore, we gave ourselves the permission to smile yesterday as we’ve been trying to for the past few days. This was not a walk for social media, it was for ourselves, a walk just between mother and daughter. We held each other’s hands as the wind blew and we walked in an unknown city, thinking of home.
It left us refreshed, it helped clear our minds and even to some extent forgive our absence in the place that we should have been at that moment. My mother will go back soon and I will be here fending for myself. Even though I’ve done it before it feels like a defining moment, once more I’ll be given to myself to take care of, I will be my own guardian.
I struggle to leave my laptop in my room on its own I cannot imagine how tough it must be for parents to allow their children to be alone in a different city. They must leave the life they created, nurtured and protected to take care of themselves, open to the dangers of the world. No wonder my mother loves me being at home all the time where she can keep me safe.
There are only countable instances in life where we understand how our parents feel about us, where that generation gap is bridged and the connection is established. They pass like a flash of lightning, but they leave a lasting impression. As I sit here amidst post-its and other stationery that defines my identity as a student I find it remarkable that I’ve had these revelations.
This city grew on me a long time back, and yesterday I told my mother, “I didn’t think I’d come here twice in my life, heck I didn’t think I’d come here even once!” As I re-visited all those places I saw last year and all the places I’ve seen so many times on postcards, I realised there was something about the city that called me back, it gave me another chance.
It’s all very confusing for me. I am writing on these post-its things I’ve got to do in the week, important dates, important ideas and names. But between the lines, in the spaces between words, and along the margins of the aligned arrows and asterisk marks is a word rendered invisible – ‘life’.
This is the post-it life and it is not to be underestimated. It’s a life we’re all entitled to and it’s something like a rite of passage. In small squares of sticky paper, we write notes to ourselves, it’s a private conversation deemed irrelevant with time and isn’t that our existence? You can call it a phenomenon or a figment of my imagination.