Oaks and Weeds

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Throughout the years of our life, we come across different people. I firmly believe that while there may be many, you can always categorize them into two groups. There are those that stand strong like ‘oaks’, deeply rooted into the ground. And then there are ‘weeds’ that grow in the moments where you ignored and changed route – ‘growing in the wrong place’.

Weeds will always fester, and like poison attach themselves, eating away at all the good. Unless you don’t make the active effort to pull them out and chuck them away, they will remain. But once the weeds are pulled out from the ground, they are pulled out from your life as well.

The oaks however, unlike the weeds hold more eminence. Their loss is not insignificant like the weeds’. It is commonly wondered, “If a tree falls in the forest with no ears to hear does it make a sound. It matters not for the tree has fallen.”The obvious, scientific answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. But that sound unheard would not remain unfeeling in the heart. The true answer actually does not lie in the sound but rather the fallen tree – the unmistakable loss of the tree.

An oak may never have the power like the weed to disappear. An oak with always make its presence, or lack of, be known. The lush forest will may appear the same to untrained eyes of an outsider, but for those who live within its depths, the loss will be imposing.

This brings into question why it is always considered a ‘family tree’. Drawn on paper is a great sturdy oak that branches across the page as the family grows. That single truck holds everyone together but the loss brings everyone tumbling down.

We all resume life after the death of an oak, a loved one who held importance in our life, but are we ever able to extract ourselves from the legacies that they leave behind? Your oak need not be famous; their legacy could simply be living. The loss of that one person in our life is like losing the whole forest, leaving behind barren land that cultivates no life.

Life is never the same. Slowly, traditions start to die down. They almost seem trivial and time consuming, things that we rationalize with ourselves that we no longer need to do. Sometimes, it is that single person who was the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle and with them gone, the puzzle forever remains incomplete. That single piece possessed the power to bring forth a landscape that had mesmerizing qualities and with it gone, the rest of the puzzle begins to dull in comparison.

The family is no longer complete. Relations are no longer complete. The oak’s roots were what prevented relations to drift away and with it gone, the landslides of strife and missed connections come to play.

The disappearance of the weed causes no loss to land, to life, to love. It is the oak that holds the power to make true loss felt.

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The shatter here is too great

Broken glass

She exercises great control and executes true care when in her home. Everything is meticulously in its place and not a fleck of dust in sight. Others marvel at her patience and some call in her obsessive tendencies. The psychiatrists on the other hand term it to be her only form of control in an uncertain life.

So, when the vase falls to the ground, the distance between her hands and the porcelain figure is too great. This vase of cherry blossoms and a Japanese spring she witnessed with her family is falling. The world has fallen quiet and the hair on the back of her neck stand alert. Her eyes go wide as the vase falls to its demise. And then it’s done.

At first she can’t breathe and the sound of the shatter continues to ring in her ear, every shard a lament. When she does gain control of her senses, she walks closer barefooted and crouches where every piece makes an intricate pattern on the floor, a constellation of broken pieces mirroring a life that she has always identified as her own.

Her body is numb to the pain of the shards digging into her bare legs, a fact she chooses to ignore before a sob escapes her mouth and she has to place a hand to her lips to control the wail threatening to escape. The hiccups are on the way and she can’t remember what her therapist told her to do in such a situation. She had promised her that such a situation would never occur again and so the coping mechanism would not be needed. So, how did she miscalculate something so important?

She can hear voices now whispering, broadcasting her failures at the simplest of things.

‘Pathetic.’

‘Pathetic.’

‘Pathetic.’

The word breaks her every time it’s uttered and instead of the vase it’s her that’s falling to the ground, slowly plummeting to her doom.

And then they’re all standing before her, picking each piece, one by one and depositing them before her. Her mother is smiling, her eyes crinkling at the corners. Her father is smiling, his moustache lifting like wings. Her sister is smiling, a mischievous glint in her eyes. They make a new pattern on the ground, a constellation that no longer looks like a black hole she could fall into – a web that Charlotte even couldn’t call her own.

 ‘It’s okay.’

Her mother whispers before she kisses her temple. Her father squeezes her shoulder and her sister just laughs, that melody she could never forget even if she tried. She wipes the tears from her face till her family no longer stands before and carefully starts collecting the shards.

She wants control on even the smallest of things because deep down she knows that she couldn’t have done anything to prevent what happened to her family. And yet she replays every scene from that unfaithful day, pressing pause at each point that she wishes she could have done differently. What if she’d woken up early? Gotten out of bed from the other side? Prayed the night before?

But even she knows, or at least tries to know that sometimes what’s broken should remain broken and there are times that no amount of glue can stick what was fated to be apart. Even if she had them tethered to her, tried to control an outcome with the hope that it could be changed, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Being powerless is a part of life and no matter how much you confine yourself to a controlled environment; a shatter is all it takes to open your eyes to the reality before you.

Family vs. Friends

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What do you do when you have to choose between your family and your friends? Two parts of your body, like the arms attached to your torso. Both close enough to touch, yet divided by an invisible line. But aren’t your friends your family too? You know them like the anatomy of your body. Every crevice, every dimple, every birthmark, every mole. They say your friends are the family you choose but what do you do when you have to make a further choice? And the outcomes are the same at either decisions. Who do you pick? Friend? Or family?

I guess the logical thing to do would be to listen to your heart. Scratch that. There is never a logical thing to do. Well then, how about this? You leap. You have an idea of what awaits you below but then again you never really know. All you decide is whether you want to be as graceful as a ballerina or just canon-ball straight in.

My dad always says, “Don’t stress. Just relax and live your life like that.” And me being the ever stressful person who welcomes stress by leaving the front door wide open. So that stress never lives life homeless and i am the one who gives stress food and warmth. Why? Because no matter how many times i’m told, i don’t know the first thing about living a life without fretting and stressing.

I asked my heart what i should do. And i already knew what it would say. Yet, i still heard her answer. “Family.” That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Just save me from the aftermath of it all, though.

The New Year…with one less family member

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Life can be cruel when it needs to be. Cruel enough to fool and then laugh at our expense.

Yesterday, he was fine. In better spirits. Recovery no longer seemed impossible – in fact it was within arms length.

Today, he is no more. In the blink of an eye – gone.

Cruel.

I look into his room – every time i walk past it. Every time. Pinch myself every time. It took me 3 whole days to realize – he won’t be coming back.

They hauled his body on their shoulders. Walked to the mosque, taking turns carrying the weight. In that moment i looked to the horizon, closed one eye, extended my index finger and thumb, picked him up and put him back in his room. Foolish.

The tears didn’t stop till for at least a few minutes after. And then nothing. My head throbbed and i was sure would explode. Thoughts were haywire. Body numb. I couldn’t even bring myself to enter his room after it all. Just lingering at the door.

I came to terms with something that day. We are small and weak in the eyes of Death. He’ll come for us all.

I have to believe that it was for his betterment. So he would be out of pain. Free from it all. Maybe.

And then there was that probable truth – i no longer had any grandparents.

Moo Moo Milk Man Have you any Milk Yes sir, yes sir 3 Bags full

 

Moo Moo Milk Man

Have  you any Milk

Yes sir, yes sir

3 Bags full

I know when this month begins, because my dad carries in 3 bags of milk with him. And it isn’t just ordinary milk. Nope. Its sweetened to core and what swims in is jello. Yes, lots and lots of jello. While the thought of jello excites, the mixture of it in milk – not so much. Where does this come from? Why does my dad bring this home? Excellent questions, with sort of simple answers. It’s over at my grandfather’s house that this milk contraption is made in abundance. To be distributed within the family and maybe outside (not quite sure) and apparently according to my dad we HAVE to drink it. I still have no idea why. And the last question – he apparently enjoys it OR claims to enjoy it. I just know he won’t have more than one glass, AT ALL!

So, this lovely concoction was placed on my bedside, while i was trying to study ( mind you parents, you’re good at disturbing me while i study…and then you berate me about not studying…hmm) and was politely told to drink. Obviously my nose smelt the drink before it even entered the vicinity that i call my humble abode and familiar memories of the sickly sweet taste of it were rejuvenated. I mentally cringed, because there was no way i was going cringe while my father was in the room as it would only lead to one of many lectures about food.

When i said no, he said it better be finished and how it was important that i drank it ALL. So, i did. Gulped it down. Choked. Then gulped some more. All the while hoping that i didn’t puke. I can feel the bits of jello floating in my stomach, bumping against each other.

Note to self: MAKE THE REMAINING BAGS OF MILK DISAPPEAR! Stealth very much needed.

Words of Wisdom Lay Etched on Her Skin…Stories Untold

My grandmother was a woman of purpose. A self-sufficient and independent woman who liked to do things on her own. That is one of the things that i admire most about her. In her dainty, frail hands was strength and courage. The wrinkles that adorned her skin were stories of the past. Stories that had me sitting in awe and begging for more.

It was my grandmother who taught me the art of pressing flowers. Her love for preserving the beauty, in a different more mesmerising form, was transferred to me. Her love for nature became my own and i found life among the flowers, trees and mountains. The grass spoke out to me, whispering sweet nothings. The trees swayed to the song of the wind and i twirled with a sole hibiscus and the breeze in my hair.

Weekly stories of her past, that i begged for her to recall in agonising detail i looked forward to. Her past. The life she lived in a Hogwarts of her own made my mouth hang agape. She would close it, laughing at the possibility that a fly might find its way in. Her laugh, a melody more sweeter than a bird’s song. It still resonates through my ears. Her cold fingers that mine encompassed in warmth.

There was something very prim and proper about her, which unfortunately i did not inherit. Not a single strand of hair out of place. Her saris pressed and ironed to perfection, not a single crease in sight. Her bed made, not a single corned un-tucked  that is till it saw the sight of me. She berated my mother about my carelessness and apparent laziness. Yes, my room still remains a mess.

I don’t quite know how i got through that initial phase of disbelief and loss. But i did. I think it had something to do with her. She never left my side, even though she was no longer physically present. She appeared in my dreams, a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Or going about her garden up keeps. But she was there even if she wasn’t.