When asked to write about an incident that changed my life, at first I thought, now that’s quite easy. A host of incidents flashed before my eyes – first day at school, first friend, farewell, exam, moving cities, friends, relationship, heartbreak, chance encounter, a book, a phrase…
Then, at the dining table, a realisation struck me. Over breakfast, we were sharing the news of people who we knew passing away. There was no pause, no thought, just another person dropping dead. And that apathy chilled me to the bones. Have we lost the ability to mourn? Have our emotions been so bruised that we are taking this daily news in our stride? Just another life? When did I become like this? Or was it some kind of weird self-preservation mechanism that my body had developed? An antigen to empathy.
I couldn’t let that happen to me. I needed to grieve just like when I needed to cry my heart out when I lost my best friend in 2017. She was fine, she was laughing and joking as we spoke on phone and yet just a couple of hours later I got the news that she had passed away. Just like that. No signal. No warning. No time to prepare.
At first I was in a shock, then in denial, then in acceptance, then guilt, then anger, then again refusal to accept. It was a cycle that I was stuck in. I tried to tell myself that even if she is not there physically she’s there with me in spirit. It made me feel better momentarily but then rage would raise its head and say no that’s not enough. Gradually I realised that that’s how I would feel for some time. It was a period of grief and I needed to take that. And I took that time to remember her. Her qualities, her madness, her compassion, her ability to make people laugh and be comfortable. Losing her taught me to live life better.
Lesson One: Don’t wait to tell people you care for them. Do it now because you never know. Learn to say “I love you” without embarrassment. That’s how my friend would do it.
Lesson Two: Be there for others. Even if they are strangers. Help wherever you can.
Lesson Three: Laugh without inhibition. Smile often. Make it your personality.
Lesson Four: Let friends know what’s troubling you. And listen to what’s troubling them.
Lesson Five: Don’t judge others. Make them feel comfortable about their choices.
Lesson Six: Stay connected with your friends.
Lesson Seven: Don’t miss celebrations.
Lesson Eight: Don’t have expectations. Do it because you want to do it.
Lesson Nine: Be crazy. Do things out of the box.
Lesson Ten: Remember people and their good traits. Try to forgive.
My friend was a good cook but the Pongal which she would make is the best. Every time I wanted to make it, I would call her for the recipe. This would irritate her and she would ask me to write it down. I wouldn’t because I liked asking her. She would say that “you remember me only when you make Pongal”. The situation has changed now. I make Pongal when I remember her. And that’s quite often.
Meet the Writer: Jhelum Biswas Bose
Author, entrepreneur and flower therapist, Jhelum Biswas Bose has worked in the beauty industry for 15 years. As a beauty journalist she has worked in lifestyle magazines like Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health and Harper’s Bazaar. Later she switched roles and headed the marketing of Sephora and Satya Paul. After that she took a break from work to address her health issues and used that time to learn various forms of alternate therapy. Jhelum now runs her own beauty brand called Jhelum Loves, offers healing, conducts workshops and continues to write articles, poems and short stories.