It has been a very bad week for me. It is only Tuesday.
There was a young vivacious girl who I knew – a friend’s cousin. I had never met her but we got connected over work and then like all natural next steps we followed each other on Instagram. Soon enough, we started exchanging emojis on memes and long DMs on heartfelt write-ups.
It was a friendship of another kind. And yet so common in today’s world. I knew she was finally enjoying her work and getting on with other things in life – she didn’t say it to me but her updates were testimony enough. I am sure she too knew a whole lot about my life through those odd three or four stories she saw each day.
And then just when I was about to step into a work call I got a Whatsapp, from my friend. She had died. I didn’t quite know how to react. I almost cancelled the call but then like everything that our world has come to be : Show must go on. I wrapped it up keeping my best face forward, laughing at jokes where required – adding value every minute and then I hung up. The screen was blank and so was my mind.
How do I miss someone I hadn’t even met? What ownership do I have on this grief? It almost felt fake. Wrong even. What right do I have to cry over someone who I simply knew through Instagram?
For the next few days I kept thinking about her. And then before I could completely snap out something else happened.
Today morning we got the news that my ex- house help, who was employed with us till only two months back – died by suicide. At this moment I feel like I am obliged to inform anyone who is reading this that yes her mental health had been diagnosed on time (last year), yes she was on proper medication.
I didn’t know how to react. I literally woke up to the call. And then we made a few to her relatives (who we knew) and then dropped messages to her daughter (the one I loved literally as someone my own). And sat. In silence. We didn’t have the strength to even get out of the bed – at one moment we both thought this is it, we cannot do anything today. But then our kid woke up and decided she wants to play – probably for the first time I understood what is it like to be a parent. We laughed and giggled with her – clearly knowing how numb we both were inside.
In about few minutes the daughter of my ex-house help called. I saw her name flashing and something inside me broke. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what I knew would be a devastating conversation. I picked up and heard her howl for five minutes. I was quiet all through, shaking. Physically shaking. When she was about to keep the phone I decided to say something “Find strength, beta and I know it is impossible but find a way to navigate things out of this event”. I broke down at the end of that sentence because I knew how hollow my words were. It has been twenty three years since my mother passed away and I am still finding that strength…
I didn’t know what to do after that. I kept walking from one room to another, I could hear my kid babble downstairs but this time I decided to be on my own. I dragged myself to take a bath, get ready and reach breakfast table. No one felt like eating but we had to.
I texted my team that I might be slow today. I listed two things that I would close. They reminded me of a call – I thought oh that’s important, let me take that too. In a few hours I had sat at my desk continuously and closed about five things and listed a few more. Life as we say never stops. The show must go on.
I thought I should perhaps put up a picture of my house help on Instagram and tag her daughter (oh yes she is connected on it too) but it felt so fake, again. Who will care? Will people judge me for oversharing? How will I explain that I have spent nearly four years, six hours each day with this woman – far more than I did with my own family. That to me this is a loss of so many things, of good days, of busy days, of days when we decided to do spring cleaning and she happily jumped in with us – of laughs that we shared at our husbands’ expense. Of meals she cooked that I loved, of meals we cooked that she took home. Of so much. So many. Moments that I don’t even know if they should matter and yet they do….
So I thought I will post a picture of her here. Blog is my personal space, it is not social media. And then it made me think ‘what if the thumbnail for the post gets picked on Twitter?’ – Jesus how much self censure do I share?
Grief in times of social media is opening your heart out about someone or something that at the onset looks nothing. That feels like a cheap expression of love and yet you know you are consumed by it. Why should we miss someone with whom you shared a few memes? Why should you want to put up a dedicated post for someone who cooked and cleaned for you? And why should all this even matter – so much so that you sit and write an entire post on your blog.
Grief in times of social media is fucked up. And it is real as much as it is fake.
Grief in times of social media is getting on a call when you are absolutely heartbroken, and laugh through it all.
Grief in times of social media is going about your day when you are constantly crying inside.
Grief in times of social media is nothing but wearing your heart on your sleeve with a laptop tucked in the arms.
It is shit. It is continuous. It is real. It is fake.
Until next time. (Keep these two in your prayers, they were good women and had lived good lives).
(I literally wrote this post to remind myself that my grief is real.)