I don't really know how to deal with death, especially the passing of a loved one. Do you talk to other people about it? How can you? Do you internalise it? Is that healthy? Is that even polite? I haven't found the answers to these questions. So I do what I always do when I'm unsure of something: I write about it. Recently my grandaunt, fondly called Mhavu, passed away.
I do not remember a time when she was angry, upset or anything other than utterly, gracefully content. When I remember Mhavu, I smile.
I'll always remember her as the calm in the Gulwadi household - a home I truly love. It's a home filled with noise and bustle and manic activity in which Mhavu was always the calm breeze. I can't help but think that in the midst of countless people careening back and forth through the living room, she kept things balanced - on an even keel. Ever since I remember, her movements were quiet, elegant and measured. Like a ballet dancer, she would glide silently to wherever tranquility was needed and sure enough, it would follow close behind.
I don't remember her being as talkative as her sister, my grandmother. But she was a great listener and I suspect that in a house of vivacious, out-going, young-at-heart adults, that was exactly what was needed. She called all us grandchildren, "Munna", in her soft voice. She was so starkly different to our generation, that watched midnight football matches and went out partying even later. There was constant maelstrom of young men and women video-conferencing each other night and day about where to go and who to pick up and she would absorb it all without blinking.
But maybe that's just how she was when I was around. I can't say I knew her as well as I'd have liked. My grandmother told me about how beautiful she was in her youth. She told me how long her hair used to be and how envious everyone was. Mhavu's was a beautiful soul. I hope my grandmother will tell me more stories about her.
I think that's what our elders really want us to do. They want us to listen. I've had the privilege of all four of my grandparents' company all my life. I want to listen to all my elders as much as I can so that when the time comes, I can smile at their memories too.
Rest in peace.