I thought of myself as a very practical person. But there are some events in life that throw everything off-balance. G‘s death was that event for me. When I walked in to the house after coming back from the village, his things were exactly where he had left them. The bedspread was the one he slept on, the blanket he covered himself with. His clothes were in the laundry. Some shirts worn for a few hours were hanging in the closet. His shoes were near the door, shades near the TV where he always left them.
I had told myself I won’t be one of those people who sniffed at clothes and did crazy things like that. But I did. I didn’t break down ‘looking’ at his stuff. It was so normal that it should be there. I just went and poked my head inside his cupboard and pulled the first shirt hanging there to my nose. Nope, no trace of him. I tried others, and the blazer he’d worn just a couple of days before that fateful day. I even tried the clothes that were still in the laundry basket. Still no scent of him. It had vanished, just like him.
I wore his cologne to work one day, just to feel the way I smelled after he hugged me. But it just didn’t smell right on me. Perhaps it needed the touch of his skin, just like I did. Then there was this urge to hear his voice. So I called his phone. I knew it was lying in my drawer, I knew there was no one on the other end – not even a voicemail; but I still called. At least the phone was ringing, and I could tell myself that maybe he was busy. It’s weird the tricks your mind is capable of!
And then perhaps the craziest of all was saving a souvenir. I had only got back his shoes – the ones he was wearing that day – from the authorities and I hadn’t properly looked at them yet. I opened the package one day and along with the shoes, there were the blood soaked socks. It was something that was the last surviving part of him – his blood – rest all was ashes. I couldn’t wash them, that would be like washing away last of his traces. I couldn’t throw them either. The only way was to keep them.
There is a paper package that says ‘do not touch’ in my freezer now. And it’s going to stay there till I am able to let go. Till I stop looking for him in ‘things’ and accept that he is there with me in spirit. But that is a long road to travel, and I am already tired.