Thursday, December 10, 2009

Difficult relationships

I grew up seeing people close to me bidding goodbyes at the most inappropriate times. Unfortunately, I couldn't see my paternal grandparents, as both of them passed away much before my dad got married. The first death that I remember is that of my maternal grandfather when I was three years old. I recall sitting in his lap while he was talking to his friends, and that night, he passed away. Amma was pregnant then.

Later, so many others bid goodbye, including my little brother, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. At one point, there was a death every year, and this continued for nine continuous years. We met for the first-anniversary rituals, and soon after, we would get the news that someone or the other had a heart attack or a stroke. It was as if you woke up in the morning with the thought, "Who's next?" if you catch my drift. It was so scary, and we used to wonder what doom had befallen us.

Sometimes, close friends moved away due to education, transfers, or some such thing. Most of these people were very close to me, and I even used to fear that it's because of me that such things happened to them – as if I were bringing in some ill luck to whoever was close to me. Even now, when I'm close to someone, I have a fear at the back of my mind that I'll lose them sooner or later.

But these setbacks also made me value relationships more and used to guard them so fiercely. I used to write long letters to my cousins staying out of town, even though most times it was a one-way communication. They used to tease me, saying that I'm totally jobless, and that's why I write. I always took the initiative to keep in touch with old friends and made sure to visit my relatives whenever I went to my hometown. Many of my friends have told me that I'm the only person who still wishes them on their birthdays or other occasions. When I am in Thrissur, I used to call up all the numbers in my phonebook, and Amma used to complain that the phone bill shoots up whenever I come home. Now when a schoolmate finds me on Orkut, they ask if I have any contact with my close friends from school. They are astonished when I tell them that we are very much in touch even after 14 long years. Many times I've taken pains to mend broken relationships because I felt any relationship is too precious to lose. Of course, there are some rare cases where I have failed or felt it's not worth mending. I even advise my friends to cling to a relationship even if they feel it's time to quit. But today, I just quit.

Yes, I lost one more person, though thankfully not to death. In fact, it's more like death with a difference — what's dead is a relationship here. And guess what? It's exactly three months since I lost Mom and six months since I lost my aunt, who was my pseudo-mom. I'm scared of three-month milestones now! It's not that I am miserable or something, but just wondering... What's the purpose of a relationship? What happens when you end a relationship so abruptly? How do you remove all the childhood memories that you have of that person? People say blood is thicker than water. But if you have to end such a relationship, then what's the relevance of other relations? And worse, I'm getting my fear back. Is it MY ill luck? I'm really scared to be with people now. What if they also leave me one day?

I then read one of Preeti's older articles, and now I know. I don't know how she always reads my mind! So, what are you? A reason, a season, or a lifetime?