A few mornings back, or specifically the morning after Diwali, as was habitual, I accessed my inbox on my phone. I was scrolling through the messages in my inbox as I fixed myself a cup of coffee to start my day. Technology makes sure we hear what is up with the World even before we open the newspaper or fire up our computers.
I stopped short at an email that bore the subject- Bad news.
The sender of the message was a colleague from work. In the fraction of a second before I tapped that message to read the content, my mind raced with the possibilities of what could it be about. I had just returned from a week at ‘work’. All had been well when I left. The message had opened by then.
The first line of the email said it all. It revealed that the bad news I was just about to read was going to be shocking. I could feel the pit of my stomach cave in. I dismissed the feeling and read on further. The mail was written in short sentences of five words each. And the third line revealed the shocking bad news. My team member had lost both her parents in a tragic road accident.
I had to sit down to make sense of the news. How was it possible? Didn’t she tell me just the other day that they were coming over to spend Diwali with her?
The email outlined the scanty details that my colleague had on him at that time and that was enough to tell me that the accident had indeed been tragic. They were run over by a speeding vehicle as they were crossing the road, it said. I had to shut my eyes close to stop the world around me from spinning.
“My ma says that I don’t feed the baby enough. If only she knew how much my two year old eats! When she is here the next week, I will hand over my daughter and ask her to take care of her”, her laugh rang in my ears.
The email further detailed how the parents were headed to the younger daughter’s house. She was going to be a mother soon and they wanted to prepare for the valaikaapu function the following week.
“I am planning to ask them to move in with me, Arthi. It will be so much easier then both for them and me. We are looking to move into a two storied house soon”, she had said determinedly.
And now they were both gone. Just like that, while crossing the road, because a speeding car that was not able to avoid hitting them, had hit them and caused head injuries that had killed them.
The rest of the day is a hazy memory. I was listlessly floating about, imagining what was happening in her world every minute. I was unable to function. I was filled with a sense of remorse and intense helplessness. I hoped that she had said a loving goodbye to them when they left her that day. What was the last conversation they had had? Was she regretting that she had not said something she had planned to tell them? The whole day I stayed preoccupied with what might have been and what shouldn’t have happened.
I felt restless as the day progressed, and worse as the details of their accident trickled in. They were hit by a car while they turned around hearing the cry of a handicapped blind man across the road.
Could it be any worse?
I hate conveying condolence messages. I am bad at it. There is no right thing to say to someone who has lost a loved one or in this case, two; loving parents who had been killed in a tragic road accident.
I had to let her know that I had heard; that I knew she was broken hearted, not once but twice over. I had to send her my thoughts, love, prayers and strength. I had to remind her to eat, to be sane, to not fall sick. I had to remind her to be strong.
It has been only 3 days since the incident. My thoughts are with her, hoping that she will allow time to heal the wretched wounds from the nasty blow life has dealt her, that she finds answers to the questions she has.
For now I want to sit quietly next to her, sharing her grief, just being there if that can lessen the pain.
Hang in there, Kuppu.