Linu Aunty! That’s what she used to call me. This kind hearted little girl who was an overachiever on every damn thing she put her mind to. And when one fine day I got to know she was no more, I went into shock. And all I could think was “How is this even fair? How dare He do this? How can He ask so much from the child’s parents? Why her? Why not somebody else? Why? Why Oh Why?”
All I could remember from that fateful day is Freddy coming home from work in between and us trying to make sense of it all. Of me trying to somehow finish my orders for the day through my tears that just refused to stop. And my Help having the good sense to stay back late and make me loads and loads of tea so I could somehow get through the day. And steeling myself to break down the news to my girls when they got back home from school. And Christie repeating again and again that “Chechi was my first friend in church. Why would God do that to chechi when she is so nice to everybody?”
And then Freddy came home and we were again trying to make sense of this tragedy and how deeply its affecting us, in a way that’s just too difficult to fathom. And that’s when it strikes us, being parents to two young girls makes us feel even more connected and reponsible. That we are grieving not only for the young life lost, but also for her parents. That we were putting ourselves in their place and imagining the horror of losing your firstborn. That we cant bear it when its a child we have seen growing up and blossoming into a dignified young lady at the end of the line.
And when you really think about it, being reserved meant I only had a handful of good friends at church. Which in turn meant I used to look forward to chatting with chechi after church. And the girls were always a constant behind her just like my girls were behind me. And 10 years is a pretty long time for a constant to become a part of your life, or rather a way of living. Not to forget she was the life of our parties. And it was almost like the standing joke in the club that if chechi and her daughter were in the same team, the other teams might as well not participate. They were such a formidable duo together! And I would always secretly wish that when my girls grow up, I want that kind of a relationship with them. That’s another thing that has been a constant in our lives for some time now. Whenever Fred and I discuss our parenting approach, we always have chechi and chettan as our role models. And we always wind down saying if we can be half of what those two are to their girls, we will get along just fine.
I still remember how the child coaxed me into appearing for the talk show with RJ Jane on Chennai Live while she was interning there. I was scared shit and this little girl wouldn’t take no for an answer from me. She even gave me a pep talk and finally when she got fed up of my incessant doubts, she just asked me to go and be my own self! And all Freddy can think of is the last football game they had and how she scolded him saying he shouldn’t be playing so rough! Surprising how its such regular every day kind of stuff that comes to your mind when you think of someone dear.
After a couple of days and sleepless nights and worrying ourselves about the dear girl, we were in for a sweet shock. We were about to turn in one night and suddenly the wind chime in our hall was swaying around mightily to the tune of a sweet melody. There was no rhyme or reason that we could attribute towards this phenomenon except of course the obvious. Having lost my father early on, it was easier for me to accept this than for Freddy who was bewildered at first and then tried to find a plausible cause late into the night before finally accepting what I was trying to tell him all this while. That she wouldn’t want us to worry too much about her. That she would be forever, the free spirited girl we were fortunate enough to know.
Its been some time now yet we think of her everyday and as each day passes by we are reminded of this poem and about how true each and every one of these verses are…