She likes cursive fonts. Now that I think about it, it suits her- she loved making things harder for herself, and expected herself to be able to cope with it seamlessly. She’s a perfectionist like that. I gave up lecturing her on unreasonably high expectations ages ago. But I never thought I wouldn’t be able to again even if I wanted to.
Death terrifies the strongest and most courageous of humans (rightly so, I think). As such, we have devised several tactics to cope with its absolute truth. What unites these tactics is the underlying message, of denial and consolation; ‘’hush, death is nothing to fear. It doesn’t hurt. You’ll be fine. It’ll be over quick.’’
Here is why these tactics to cope with the truth of death are lies. Death does hurt. Death by suicide hurts exponentially more. Perhaps not for the dead, but for the survivors. I say survivors, not because I have a penchant for over dramatisation (quite the opposite actually) or an obsessive need for attention (I truly hope not) but rather because that’s what you are when your best friend takes her life. You are the armoured target of a neutron bomb* who has survived. Externally, I know I look alright- armor intact, smiling back at strangers and friends alike. Internally though, my entire universe has been blown to smithereens. Like rocket ships have smashed viscously against my window- the glass shards flying inwards, slashing, slitting, impaling as I stand still.
“I am not fine.” I know I’m not. It is the second reason why every tactic is a lie. I am completely not fine. Her death is a catastrophe and yet, the typical ‘fight-or-flight’ instincts haven’t been triggered in me. I’m not running away from it; I’m not valiantly fighting it with piles of work. No. I stand still, as I see my world crashing and burning and swirling in front of my eyes- the unmoving eye of the tornado. I can’t move. Sometimes, when I can be objective (like now when I am forcing myself to be), I know this is nowhere close to the already vague definition of fine. There are too many questions and mysteries, things that I don’t understand and can’t comprehend about her death, for me to be fine. At the top of this pile is not a “why” but rather a much louder “why didn’t I know?”. I feel stuck, voice and words and action all caught in my throat, choking on the bland yet somehow overpowering taste of perpetual confusion and guilt. Confusion. Yes, It may not be the strongest or even the most painful emotion to experience but it’s the one I am most sure will consume me and pull me into a black hole of permanent emotional numbness. Confusion; Why did she? Why would she? These are questions that will remain unanswered for the rest of eternity.
Above everything else, these tactics are lies because I have come to realise death is not over quickly. Not to those of us, who have to live after the fact. It is a long, arduous and continuous journey; it is infinite. It is a different dimension- one that humans don’t naturally perceive. Like any dimension, you can’t perceive it until you’re forced to see it that first time, after which the brain is triggered to eternally perceive it. Now, that I’ve been forced to truly experience the truth and pain of someone’s death, I am irreparably changed- so much so that it feels like my very genetic code has been altered.
I constantly long for the missed opportunities, the incomplete conversations, the unkept promises, the lost future together. I long for My Priya. And she is My Priya not because I like to romanticise bleak passages on my pain and mourning, but because since the suicide, I have come to think that she only graced me with part of her whole- the side that squeals and fangirls about British shows, the side that argues about the worthlessness of religion, the side that bombards me with a billion questions every movie date (31 actually. I counted once), the side that knits beanies for her niece, the side that channels all her frustrations at me, the side that wonders why the sky is blue and instead of googling, chooses to ask me. Still, there is a small part of herself she didn’t show me.
Truth be told, I am angry she didn’t show me that part. I am annoyed that she didn’t tell me. I am heartbroken that she didn’t call me the day she did it although she knows I would have been there and I would have helped her get through anything. I am devastated and lost and hurting and uncertain of everything I used to be so sure of. However, someday I think I might be able to live with it. Because I love the Priya that squeals and shouts and debates and knits and treats me as if I am her personal Google. Maybe, in some way, I’m lucky to not know why she did what she did because I have an untainted memory of her- her final moments will not seep into it like spilt black ink on a watercolour painting. I am not a survivor yet; I am still fighting to survive and slowly mending. Nevertheless, someday, I will be alright because her memory is more important than pointless questions. I will start moving again, holding her memory close, comforting myself with its warmth.
*Neutron bombs are designed such that the radioactive neutrons take out life forms, but the blast would not destroy the armour and the military infrastructure.