I remember it so clearly. Almost like it all happened yesterday.
September 16, 2006.
I was four back then. I was a cheerful and mischievous girl. Everyone said that I was like the sunshine of the house. Always running around and talking to everyone. I loved my great grandmother the most. I called her ‘Amma‘. She was the purest in her way and loved me more than anything.
On September 16, 2006, I woke up a little later than I usually do. I usually woke up by eight am, but that day I woke up at ten. I ran down to Amma’s room, just like I did every day, as soon as I woke up. I knew I was late somehow and even after that, she wasn’t awake. Amma would wake up way before I did, but not that day. So I leaned on her bedside and tried to wake her up by calling out her name. She didn’t wake up. Even if I was only four, I realized that something is wrong. I shook her lightly while calling out her name, thinking that it would wake her up. When she didn’t wake up, I went to my mother and let her know. She was making rotis in the kitchen and she just left everything and hurriedly came to Amma’s room. I stood beside the bed as my mother tried to wake my great grandma. After a few minutes, she panicked. She kept her finger really close to Amma’s nose and when she didn’t feel her breathing, she collapsed on the floor and started crying. Back then, I didn’t know what all this was. I was a fast child but I never knew what death was. I was never introduced to it. When mom started crying out loudly, everyone came rushing to the room. They asked my mother what was wrong and she looked at Amma again and started sobbing. My grandfather moved forward and looked at Amma, trying to check what’s wrong and once he realized that she is not going to wake up, his eyes filled up. When I saw that, I asked my mom, ‘ maa, what’s wrong?’. Instead of answering me, my mother got up and picked me up and walked up the stairs and closed me in a room after telling me to not to cry and wait inside till she opens the door. She never answered my question and I still didn’t know why Amma didn’t answer my calls. I sat beside the huge window of that room and waited. No one came and I got tired and sleepy and went to sleep. After some hours, I heard the beating of drums. It was loud and woke me up. I went to the window and looked out and saw my Amma being carried away on shoulders of my father and his brothers. Her whole body was covered in white and her face looked paler. Everyone around was wearing white clothes and had tears in their eyes. Her eyes were still closed and she was taken away and that made my eyes fill up, even though I didn’t know why. All I knew was that she was gone. I sat in one corner of the room till my mother came back. As soon as she opened the door, I hugged her and started crying and she cried along with me.
Today after eleven years, I still remember it all too clearly. That was the first time I had lost someone to death. It made me feel weak and vulnerable because I couldn’t save the person I loved. That day I realized that death is always stronger than us.