She’d been away a week. Home now, the first thing that struck her was the new nameplate. It announced his name alone. She was yet to take a view on it when she was faced with her in-laws. In eight years they’d never visited. Never accepted her. But that wasn’t what jarred... Things had been moved around. And not, pointlessly. All traces of her were gone. “You were never to marry our son,” said his mother -- steely eyes, even tones. Where’s he, she panicked. Repeated calls went unanswered. “Leave him alone,” commanded mummy. “And leave our home.” Shock had her transfixed... Only, his father obliged, and walked her out.
Illustration / Amit Bandre
Endings seldom emulate beginnings. Beginnings are spring. That shade of green that breathes life. The hue might vary but the tone is happy. Endings are wan. Cold. Often leave you numb. Don’t necessarily resonate with you. Sometimes make no sense. And often, no one breaks them down for you. He never met her. Never explained why. Not in the months that followed. Not when she silently signed the papers.
Closure. We always seek it in the other. Fruitless endeavour. Closure comes from within...
The pain is temporary. It goes away. What’s permanent is the loss. And even as you grapple with it, never mind that it’s been coming for years, the finality hits now. Now, when it ends. My ending hit me hard. So much so, I ran away. All the way to New York. Distance is a great healer -- I lost myself in Manhattan. I’d walk all day a blank slate. There was much to deal with but the mind chose emptiness, and I obliged. In hindsight, it was therapeutic. I wasn’t ready to deep dive. For now I was merely coping. Coping without words, anger or even despair.
The time to talk comes too. And it’s best to start by talking to you. Only when you do, after as long as you are, the revelations come out in bursts. Instances of undealt-with-grief that have been neatly stacked over the years explode one by one. They’ll hurt more than anything you’ve ever encountered. Also, you’ll hurt more now than when you actually went through with whatever it is that you stacked away. Because then you needed to get it over with. And now, you need to deal with it. Review it. Accept it. And then, let go of it.
Letting go -- it’s that answer that’s always eluded. For resolutions, we believe, involve returns. Inflows. Not this time. Zen awaits in the column across -- outflow. In letting go. Accept your story, and then let go. Let go of those stacks of grief. Let go of the emotions attached. Let go of the beginning. And let go of the end.
Heart breaks. As sure as love. As sure of the duality that is life. Down must follow up. Heat follows cold. And sorrow follows joy. The search is always for happiness. And yet pain is guaranteed. Acceptance is Eden. Mistake it not for a despondent swallow. Acceptance is not compromise. Not bitterness. Nor disillusionment. But, tranquility.
For when it comes, that happy acceptance, follows a warm detachment, and in turn belief. Belief that while something important has ended much remains to be harnessed. Belief in the bigger plan -- and in our limited vision. Belief in the self -- and in finding the answers within, and not without.
Be warned though, belief is double-edged. They often ask me -- why? What was the trigger? Why did it end when it did? Truth is, I’m a fine actor. So sublime, I had me fooled. It was always wrong. But I was in denial, and blissfully so. No, it was not lack of self-worth. That’s curable. It was undiagnosed self-belief. What kept me in the marriage was I. Rather, I, as I perceive me.
I do not fail. And to quit, for the self-assured, is to accept failure. An alien ideology. We’d rather die trying than give up... And yet, swallow the bitter pill. Say it loud: “I cannot make this work.” Dump the subtext. The rationale. The body copy. The headline reads: I quit. Quit then, and never mind that it erodes your self-image. For there is no trigger -- only acceptance of failure and course correction.
In the early days I used to unconsciously put it such. “What happened,” they’d gently empathise. I failed, I’d say. Slowly, I forgave myself. And learnt that it’s okay to fail.
It liberated me.
Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio and brands. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.