By Madhushree Ghosh
Seventeen years ago, I receive the call most immigrants dread. It is inevitable, and yet. The call announces that my Baba, my indefatigable, extroverted, positively enthusiastic father, was felled by a massive cardiac arrest. On a heart that was the most giving one among all the people I’ve known. Life in America at that second continues without a ripple. Only, my life changes, divided into before-the-call and after-the-call.
I ask my now-ex. “Will you come with me?” — like a child.
Awkwardly, he says, “Do you want me to?” — like he has an option and he could escape this uncomfortable moment. I call him my now-ex for a reason.
“My Baba is dead,” I say mournfully. As if saying it over and over would make it real. It wasn’t real. It still isn’t.
Journalist Aman Sethi talks about the burning funeral pyres that light up India’s cremation grounds in the New York Times. With over 300,000 new daily infections and over 21,000 dead in the last week in April, the pyres are lit in the parking lots of crematoriums. Author Rani Neutill writes about the pyres and her own journey back to cremate her mother five years ago. We both acknowledge these images transport us back to our own trauma of losing our parents, our loved ones. PTSD all over again.
Picture: U.S. Secretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons