on grieving

the last time i met rojina and rabina became the last time i met them.

january, 2020, patan durbar square. we licked mango flavored ice-creams and watched the dust settle, together. people around in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties. one day, our joints will also stiffen, our skin will also wrinkle, we will also grow old. together, i thought.

rojina had landed that morning and i was flying out that night. but in the couple of hours in between, she still managed to fill me in, mansuuuuu, i want to see more of nepal. i told her, go.

that evening, she posted a photo of us wishing me a safe flight. but i never wished her that. i wish i did. i really do.

today, i am angry towards my country for being so poor that they have to use forty years old second hand aircrafts, angry towards the airlines, angry towards the weather, angry towards whoever took the decision that the flight could take off, angry towards the carelessness that resulted in the death of twenty two people. i am angry because this was preventable, only if.

if she had not gone to nepal this summer, if she had decided to go to mustang instead of jomsom, if she had taken the flight right after this one, if their entire family had gotten food poisoning from the night before and were in the hospital instead, if they had slept through their alarms

i am clinging on to all the “ifs” and creating possibilities which i know have zero chance of existing.

stay strong is the worst phrase i have ever heard all my life. why stay fucking strong and for who? rest in peace, rest in power, rest easy, fuck all that. there’s no peace here.

on a foggy morning, an entire family turns into mist
before the petals fall on the ground

and we want peace? may their souls find a better place? the best place for their souls was in their bodies, their fingers making fists, their lips drying from the edge, their feet cold under the socks, ready to walk.

there’s no glint of positivity here. these moving clouds. big suitcases in their rooms with tags. the notes they left. them laughing with us. our swollen hearts. none of that matters right now. nothing.

when i heard about the missing flight in nepal, my first question was, where was it heading to and from where? pokhara to jomsom. it wasn’t kathmandu or biratnagar, so i breathed a sigh of relief. human beings are selfish creatures and i am one amongst them. i just needed to know there weren’t any chances of me knowing any of the passengers. death is a landscape in the background if it is of somebody you didn’t know even existed.

the pain in my body right now is not the result of death in itself. since i was a ten years old, i have known that we are born and then we die. i hear ambulances’ sirens around me all the time. death passes by me, so close and so often and it never bothers me.

but this time it is rojina. and the death she had is the death that i have feared the most for myself. i don’t trust the planes in nepal and that is my most spoken statement.

when the plane started shaking, i wonder if she chanted gayatri mantra like i do. om bhoor bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

it’s been seventy two hours since i heard the news. i want to fold my body like a paper, peel my skin, pull out whatever is stuck in my throat, and ask myself over and over, “have you really understood that she has died?”

yesterday on my six hours bus ride from new york to maine, i cried next to a stranger, something i wasn’t able to do in front of my closest friends. i am learning, the only way you know how you grieve is by grieving.

her mansuuuuuuu has been reverberating in my ears. reading my poems she would tell me, the world needs more of these. the world needs more of you rojina. we all need you to make our lives better, to show us how to look beyond the monotony of everyday life.

this is a terrible world. but in the same world, rojina looked into the vastness every night to see where the moon hides. if any of the stars are lonely. and that is called being brave. brave like an ox, brave like a lotus, brave like rojina. why her, why now, why this way i don’t know but watching this happen is shrinking my gut from inside. to accept that i can never send a postcard to her or call or catch up, is devastating.

in the letter i sent her in january of 2019, i had written, one day i will introduce you to my sister and say, ‘she is my friend and her heart is made of gold’ and i will still do that, using present tense. i can never talk about rojina in the past tense. rojina is. always.

and for those of you crying, i will not tell you to stop crying. for those of you grieving, i will not say anything to comfort you. there’s no comfort here.

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