Monday, January 8, 2018

More than words

I got some disturbing news this morning. One of our neighbours has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

My first reaction was why her? Here’s a woman with two sweet kids, a loving husband, great in-laws and a good career. She’s also someone who regularly exercises. She’s got everything going for her. But if there’s one thing I’ve derived from reading about cancer all these years, is that it can happen to anybody. There are no guarantees that a woman who married on time (ideally her 20s), had kids before age 30, and exercises regularly, will not get it, just as someone who hasn’t done all this won’t get it.

The next reaction was, I want to hug her. Because words cannot express everything.

When tai (my sister) died, I remember I was fed up of words. As a journalist and writer, having held the greatest value for them until then, for the first time, I didn’t want them. I wanted people who came home for condolence to stop talking. To stop mouthing their crappy, shitty words that truly didn’t mean much then, but which they said because that’s what we do in a society when we go to meet people we know, who have lost someone. I wanted them to stop talking because most of them were saying the same things we kept hearing over and over, from different people. I just wanted them to stop talking.

All I wanted, was a hug.

And then a neighbour, about 20-years-old then I think, came over and hugged me and my father. He didn’t say anything. He just gave each of us a hug. Perhaps because he had lost his father to cancer too, he understood? “Better?” he asked after hugging me. For a moment, it was.

Over the years since we lost tai, I have gone through the gamut of emotions. From feeling guilty about living, of breathing, and pushing those who loved me and those whom I loved away, I have done many things. I know I will never heal. But I think I am in a much better place since then. I am a work in progress.
Today’s news stirred up many emotions and memories. I also remembered the hug. I want to tell my neighbour that this is a battle she will win. That we're all there for her.  I don’t know when I will muster the courage to give her a hug. But I want to. Because sometimes you need more than words.


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