His bathroom has 3 lights, one on top of the mirror and the other 2 on the ceiling. The switch for the mirror light is just underneath the mirror. The switch for the ceiling lights is outside the bathroom door. I sometimes found the mirror-light switched on, on the way to his room even when he wasn’t there. I would tell him off for repeatedly forgetting to turn the light off after use. Now, it is my bathroom. I still find the mirror light on sometimes when I go upstairs, even if I haven’t been there for hours.
It is so easy to forget to turn the mirror-light off. I know that now.
I would arrange mail-order deliveries for the times when he would be home. Sometimes he would be in his room on the second floor and fail to open the door for them, especially if they came very early in the morning. We would then have to go around chasing our parcels. Again, I would get a bit annoyed with him for missing out on the deliveries.
Now we sleep in his room. One morning last week, I almost didn’t hear the deliveryman’s knock on the door. I thought I heard something like a knock in my sleep but disregarded it, believing it to be a dream. An identical sound came again and nudged me out of my slumber. Had the man not had enough patience, he would have left us a note and gone to his next destination. But I did manage to bundle myself up and roll myself down the stairs in a semi-comatose panic to get to the door just in time.
It’s so easy to miss a delivery. I know that now.
They met on a bus, got along, got together and after a while things turned somewhat strange. They thought they wanted to erase each other’s memory from their minds. They thought it would help with the suffering, the pain. The memory was successfully erased, yet they met again, on a beach this time, got along, … “How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” Even after their minds forgot, their beings felt their connection, simply by being themselves and vibrating at their natural frequencies.
Yes, we watched ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ today.
I want to hoard each and every one of our memories. Erase nothing. I keep going back to Facebook to look at more pictures, his friends, their happy times, their life, their love.
A post from his first Anniversary:
“One year. It’s been one year today. One year since the lives of the many people you came into contact with had changed. A year where we’ve come together, grieved together, helped each other understand or at least try to understand the little we all knew. A year where we pushed on with our lives, hearing of other tragedies occurring around the world but not really caring as much as the day we lost you. A year where we tried harder and harder to make people aware of these mental illnesses and their symptoms so others don’t find themselves with the same heartache we felt. A Year where money has been raised for research to stop people from slipping through the cracks, yet some still do.. It’s been a year. A year of many changes. But even with all these changes there have been a few things that stayed the same. Our image of you. Our living memories of you, Our undivided love towards you.
Saagar Naresh, you are missed my old friend.
we’ll meet one day and have a much needed catch up. Xx”
– Juan Muriel Escudero
(Saagar playing Widow Twanky in Aladdin at Durham, Christmas 2012)
Recently a young man taught me how to save pictures from Facebook. I went to Saagar’s page and found a huge treasure! Smiles, fancy dress parties, gigs, hanging out with friends, pulling faces, playing the clown, doing a ‘Usain Bolt’, being on stage …
Memories warm me up from the inside but they also tear me apart. Sometimes they sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
They flood my mind with the light of a thousand bright stars.
A million memories. Countless thoughts. One person. One love.
Love you and miss you my delightful, beautiful boy!!!
(Comment: ‘Why can’t I stop myself from doing this at parties?’)
Jack Samuel on Facebook:
When I found out about the passing of Saagar Naresh, I had very little time to process my thoughts. Sitting on a train to Munich several days later, I was alone with my thoughts for the first time, and a memory of Saagar popped into my head. We were in the music room at Aidan’s, having one of our last-minute band rehearsals. At the end of a song, we realised that one of the porters had been standing outside the room, listening to us. He came in, and he said “I’m loving the music, but could you possibly play a little more quietly?” Assuming that he could hear us from his desk upstairs, we weren’t all that surprised that we were being a bit loud. What we hadn’t realised was that the porter had come from a conference in the Lindisfarne Centre at the other side of college. He had come to tell us that Saagar was drumming so loudly that everyone in the conference could hear him. By extension, Saagar was probably interrupting the whole of college. I wouldn’t be surprised if people in the other Hill colleges could hear him. Nobody drummed as loudly as Saagar.
This is a song I wrote for Saagar that day on the train. Even if Saagar and I sometimes had a different approach to life, he is such an important part of some of my best memories of Durham. He had a joke for every situation, a great awareness of the world, and the most powerful drumming style I have ever seen on a man.
RIP Saagar, this one’s for you.
Here is a song for someone who will bang the drums so loudly that we’ll always be able to hear him, no matter where he is. R.I.P. big man.
The night temperatures are below freezing. The weather forecasts are sending out warnings of frost and black ice. I thought a hot water bottle for the night would be a good idea for uninterrupted sleep. I placed it against my lower back as I drifted off in fetal position. It was comforting and sleep-inducing, resting perfectly still against my lumbar spine. I was wrapped up in my duvet and the bottle, in a thick white cotton towel under the duvet.
Sometime during the night, I surfaced to a semi-awake state and felt a small bundle next to me. It was warm and cuddly. Still half submerged in slumber, my mind floated away into the past. My hands brought the bundle up to my chest and held it close. It didn’t move. I hugged it and kissed it. The pain of the love and the longing came back. The absolute joy of cuddling my baby came back. The memory of how he slept with his bum in the air came back. The sense of the way he moved round in his sleep came back. The tears came back. The pillow got soaked but the eyes stayed closed and the attention went to the sobs, the sadness and the breath and then slowly…the sleep came back.
It’s come back. Last 2 years we sat on a beach and pretended it wasn’t happening. We ignored Christmas. Overlooked it. Avoided it. This year, we are home. We are here to face it in all it’s glory and brutality, helplessly watching the abundance of ‘missing’ it precipitates. For many years I volunteered to work on Christmas as I believed it meant more to my colleagues who belong to the Christian faith than it did to me. With whatever time we had together as a family we enjoyed the social aspect of X-mas.
When Saagar was eleven, I wrapped his gift in a hurry and left the roll of wrapping paper in the ‘miscellaneous’ cup-board. When he saw the gift from Santa, he gave me a quizzical look, like a cocker spaniel and said, “But…”. That was the end of it. Although we laughed about it, the Santa story was blown away in that instant. As an adult he thought it was unfair on kids to be ‘lied to’ by their parents. We took different standpoints on matters of wonder, mystery, magic and innocence.
After much internal resistance over the last week, I finally installed a postmodern Christmas tree of white and silver twigs with pink fairy lights right in front of Saagar’s picture. Milkshake loved it and immediately took shelter underneath it. He hasn’t budged in 3 days except for short food and loo breaks. Last evening 3 of Saagar’s friends had dinner with us. I was reminded of how much fun we would have talking about absolutely inconsequential things (drivel) for hours! The fabulous combination of a sharp intellect and a great sense of fun was familiar. Laughter filled the house. American, South African, Indian and Australian accents appeared and disappeared. Stories of travels, girl-friends, dysfunctional families, Facebook pictures and safe-spaces were shared. Opinions on demands for transgender toilets and identity politics were expressed. Future plans were discussed. B showed off her new elephant tattoo and I proudly displayed my Saagar tattoo. Food was polished off. Time flew past.
Wonder what he would have looked like at 22. Wonder what he would have done after graduation. Wonder if he would have had a girl-friend. The ‘missing’ is awful but ‘what might have been’ is killing too.
It was happy and sad. We missed him. Our love for him and his for us brought us closer together. That is the new normal – joyful and tragic at the same time – 2 sides of the same coin.
Back in Delhi for a few days. Any excuse.
The warmth in the air is welcoming but wrong for this time of year. I remember the city being submerged in a cold mist in early December, famously disrupting flights and traffic. In the absence of central heating, the houses used to feel the same as being out in the freezing open. Getting into bed was like plunging into icy waters. Getting out was the same. Electric room heaters had most of the family huddled around it in the evenings. Afternoons were spent on the terrace extracting some warmth out of a feeble sun, sitting around a news-paper, eating roasted peanuts and sweets made from sesame seeds and jaggery. Sweet masala tea was an essential part of every other hour and caloric intake, never a consideration. The multiple layers of clothing worn round the clock made everyone look uniformly shapeless.
Today most people are in jeans and t-shirts. Even a jumper is too much. The sun shines brightly and a blanket of smog smothers the city. The ‘normal’ Air Quality Index lies in the ‘hazardous’ range and yet life goes on as ‘normal’.
A lovely young lady meets me on the staircase and she is one of Saagar’s closest childhood friends. She has finished her graduation and has been in a job she loves for the last 6 months. We give each other a big hug. I silently give her my blessings even though my heart disintegrates yet again.