After 3 years of no singing, last week I recorded 3 tracks of devotional music with a friend. I sent across one of them on whatsapp to all my family in India. I got a few ‘wow’s and emojis of an applause and a rose and such. My mum called to say it was nice. Yesterday my 8 years old niece spoke to me about it. She said, ”I didn’t know it was you. Mamma told me. It was like you were singing for God. It made me feel relaxed and sleepy. It was like a lullaby.” That was the most honest and descriptive feedback I had. She shared how it made her feel rather than how good or bad it was.
Judgements come from the head and feelings come from the heart. That the music made her feel a particular way, that she didn’t just hear it but felt it, that she could verbalise it as well as she did was remarkable.
The purity and sweetness of the innocence of childhood is one of the most precious things in this world.
Saagar couldn’t wait to grow up!
The second year I thought was harder than the first. Now, I think this year is harder than the second. As time goes by, the finality of death slaps me harder in the face. It becomes clearer that this is it. “Deal with it. Despite all the help and love in the world, you have to do this on your own for the rest of your life” says the merciless voice in my head, “You will never see him again. Get used to it.”
Each breath strings up a bunch of moments together and one by one they slip and slide away. On some days the seemingly humungous task of getting from the front door of the house to the car takes forever. At other times, hours fly by like weightless nebulous clouds on wings. Seconds linger like sumo wrestlers battling with sleep, yet a week can be gone in a flash.
Red-hot intensity of grief starts to tire and turns to ashes of resignation. Questions know they are unanswerable and yet they incessantly repeat their customary laps round and round the velodrome of headspace. Like a stubborn arrogant squatter, guilt refuses to pack its bags and evict this cold, dilapidated building.
What is better? What is worse?
What is the truth?
Who makes that judgement?
Or the witness of the witness?
Alone with Everybody – by Charles Bukowski
the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
crawling in and out
the bone and the
for more than
there’s no chance
we are all trapped
by a singular
nobody ever finds
the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill
“I have opened a door that can never be shut. How will I ever get her to trust me again?”
19 out of 20 people who attempt to end their lives will fail.
These survivors will be at a 37% higher risk of suicide.
Anger, shame, guilt, fear, minimization and avoidance are few of the reactions they evoke.
The taboo associated with the act might make them feel even more isolated. Their families may not know how and where to access support for themselves and their loved one. The ones closest to them may feel drained, stressed, exhausted and let down. The trust between the two might be deeply damaged.
Their relationship might reach an all time low, just when it needs to be solid.
Both need to take responsibility for their own well-being and that of each other.
Here are a few useful resources.
Supporting someone after a suicide attempt:
Advice for those who survived:
Once upon a time her life revolved around music. Her days and nights were spent either listening or humming or singing or watching thinking about songs. All her time was infused with music. Her friends would sometimes have to shut her up. She was addicted. Music was her friend in good times and bad. It was a constant and reliable companion. It never let her down. They had a steady relationship.
One day her world turned upside down, inside out and back to front. She couldn’t make any sense of anything anymore. Music didn’t help. It fell by the wayside. Their friendship disappeared. She couldn’t cope with rhythms, notes or lyrics. Melodies brought forth floods of tears. Harmonies took her to painful places. She stayed away. She fiercely guarded her heart strings from melting. She preferred silence. Deep, dense, safe silence.
Serendipity stepped in. A musical friend who knew of her old connection invited her along for an evening of informal singing in a friendly group. She reluctantly agreed. The thought of revisiting Music had fleetingly crossed her mind on New Year’s eve. Her parents and friends had been gently pointing her in that direction. Her love of music was alive but its expression immediately exposed her fragility. Could she risk it?
She decided to go along even though she was filled with self doubt. Would she be able to hold a tune? Would she get the timing right? Would she run out of breath before the end of a line? Would her voice sound okay? After a long estrangement, would Music be her friend again?
On the morning, she meditated, prepared herself physically and mentally, determined to face Music and re-establish their friendship.
She did it.
It wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be. She went with the flow. Her throat welled up a few times. Her eyes got heavy with moisture. Every now and then she completely lost herself, disappeared. She came away smiling, feeling lighter. She reinstated a new, joyful connection with her old friend, who had been waiting for her all this while.
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Ref: Neuroscience of singing: http://upliftconnect.com/neuroscience-of-singing/
Having a couple of daylight hours still left after work is a luxury. This evening I was lucky. I walked aimlessly along the Southbank and ‘The F-word’ exhibition caught my eye. F for Forgiveness. Bold posters with simple, human messages from ordinary people from all over the world, telling stories that transform, offering a dynamic and challenging exploration of forgiveness through real life situations.
There is nothing ordinary about forgiveness. Forgiving others. Forgiving myself. I constantly struggle with it.
One mother said “When I was told that my son had been killed in action, the first words that came out of my mouth were ’Do not take revenge in the name of my son.’ It was a totally instinctive response.”
When Saagar passed away, one of the strongest feelings that came up for me was – no one should have to loose anyone they love to suicide. That was the driving force that kept me alive and goaded me on but forgiveness is a subtle and powerful thing that happens at another level. I am very conscious of the fact that it is something I really need to address but keep putting it off while it keeps gnawing away at me. Perhaps, it is not entirely by co-incidence that I chanced upon this exhibition.
Jalebis are the most luscious of Indian sweets . They are made from plain flour, ghee, saffron and sugar – the best possible ingredients. They bring back the sweet memory of home. Lately they featured in a Holywood film, Lion, as a trigger for a deep longing for home for a young displaced man. This longing grows into a desperation and then becomes a source of great suffering. Even though the body moves from one place to another, the heart can stay in one place for lifetimes, clinging on to sights, smells and sounds that mean ‘home’ and ‘love’. The power of the mind to revisit, relive, reconfigure and re-create life from all these stray scraps is tremendous.
This big blockbuster addresses issues of adoption, childhood trauma, migration and much more. The most interesting questions it has raised for me are – What is your narrative? What is the story you tell yourself? Do you ever question it? Are you willing to see how your life might change if you did question it? Are you willing to be proven completely wrong? Would that set you free? Would that empower you to change your direction?
The things we tell ourselves have more power than we know. They make the difference between life and death.
Saagar as Lion 🙂