Tuesday, August 05, 2008

After a month.....

Being with the family on the 12th day ceremonies was an emotionally draining experience. And, in just 2 day's it's going to be exactly a month. Of course, no one can even begin to comprehend or pretend to understand – what Malathi and the kids, Venkat’s aged parents, Malathi’s Mom, Dad, Brother and other close relatives (including her old grand-mother ) who had all flown down from Andhra were going thru’.

There was an unending stream of visitors everyday - often continuing till late into the evenings. The VIPs were preceded by their security contingent hours ahead of their actual arrival holding up life in the house. Friends were there to help, a few had well-meaning advice to offer, the rest were there simply to stand-by in the hour of grief.

The common refrain of all who came was: what a ‘brave girl’ Malathi was and how well she was holding herself together – she quietly asked “do I have an option?”. Her mom was resolutely holding the anchor of the household, while her Dad – the retired forensic Doctor – was the strong face of the family – calmly bearing the load of the tragedy.

Amidst all this, somewhere one felt Venkat’s affable spirit – providing strength and occasionally lifting the pall of gloom, when they joked and even laughed a little. The kids - too young and innocent to realise the magnitude of the loss - remained immersed in their games and computers, yet - silently and invisibly - holding onto their mother close - both to comfort her and be, themselves, comforted.

Newspaper reports confirmed what we had already heard from friends in the establishment – Afghan & US Military Intelligence had warned of the attack and even details to the make of the car that would be used were known. Attending a workshop on Safety at one of our plants in a remote corner of Chattisgarh, I pondered over the age-old question of whether human intervention can shuffle the cards to change the hand that life deals out to us – no matter how much westerners deride the ‘fatalistic’ mentality of us Asians.

As the relatives departed, the children went back to school and Malathi re-joined work, I was reminded of what Dubby (Bhagat ) had once told me in Kathmandu. At first there is denial, which is replaced by shock and disbelief, giving way to understanding, that ultimately leads to closure through catharsis - clearing the way for life to move ahead once again.