A tribute to Sahana
Mohana Narayanan | 21 Jun 2006

I woke up early morning and as a matter of habit, checked my mobile for any messages: what I read shocked me into immobility: My friend had sent me a message, informing me that she had lost her husband a couple of days before diwali. She ended the message with an apology for the wrong timing of the message.
I had made friends with her three years back, while doing a course. She had been the counselor; and she had become just that: a good counselor, a philosopher and guide. We kept in touch long after my course was over, and though we rarely met even though we were in the same city, somehow we always were in touch through e-mail or over the telephone. 
Numb with shock I immediately called her up. I did not know what to say: I am bad at condolences, but I wanted to hear her voice; maybe a part of me wished that she would deny the news as the work of a prankster; but one word from her and I knew it was true. There was nothing more to say, but to hold on; I was not in station, I would go to see her as soon as I was in.
The rest of the day passed in a haze: a pretence at normalcy, for I was on holiday and had no right to spoil the day for the rest of the family. But I was functioning on auto-pilot, still unable to assimilate the enormity of it all.
Not knowing details hurt: not that it would have helped in anyway I guess, but it was too stark for me to even think anything more than just that one line that kept reverberating in my brain: I lost my husband….
On the drive back to town, I steeled myself to seeing her, and was ready with the platitudes one normally comes up with on such occasions, though they sounded hollow to my own ears. The radio played the raga Sahana, her husband’s favourite raga; in fact, I had presented him with a cassette of this raga on the one occasion that I had met him; Since then he was always called Sahana. It brought a lump to my throat to think that I would never be able to listen to this raga without this association coming to my mind.
I rushed to see her on my return. I don’t know what I expected; but she was calm, collected, though I could sense the storm raging within; It was 5 days since the loss; she was spent and tired. But she held on, and she coped. She coped because she knew there was no choice; she was made of strong stuff and she knew she had to go on: so she had started the journey already. The loss was there: so was the hurt; but beyond it all was the sheer will and the indomitable courage and dignity that I would like to see in every woman who has to go through such mammoth tragedy. She had the social licence to wail, rave and rant if she wanted to: but she chose instead to mourn with dignity, silently and to live up to be a strong silent support for her widowed mother-in-law who had lost her only son and her young adolescent son who is facing a crucial examination. She draws on her inner strength to pull through and as I left her, I prayed to God, not for the peace of the departed soul, but for this living soul, whose vestiges of strength may reach the end if he does not keep an eye on her, and carry her in his arms if she becomes too tired walking on her own…