Grief

Arthur Golden, in his novel “Memoirs of a Geisha” wrote;

               “Grief is a most peculiar thing. We’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open on its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less, and one day we wonder what has become of it.”

Ladies and gentlemen,

Grief is defined is an intense sorrow especially caused by someone’s death.

So, here I am going to share about grief.

 Not about how peculiar it is, but how grief becomes a common thing to deal in our lives.

Personally, I believe that grief has an ongoing and an everlasting relationship with those who have lost their loved ones. It slowly builds up, reaches its peak and chooses to stay there a little longer in comfort before deciding to crash.

At the peak, we have to decide what to do with the amount of energy we are holding on to, in the name of grief.

Often, grief comes to touch our feet like the sea waves; choosing to leave only to return. 

So, do we deal with grief or choose to ignore it?

If we choose to deal with it, the next question would be “How?”

How do we deal with our grief?

What do I know about grief? I am neither an expert, nor someone who is going to share some glamorous ideas on how to deal with it.

Instead, I am going to share with you a glimpse of how I dealt with my grief and made it a friend.

Before I continue, let me tell you that the journey was a bumpy one. I kept falling down, hurting myself but I chose not to give up.

Just weeks after our 3rd wedding anniversary; I lost my husband. Things were tricky because I was in the position to decide to bring him back home. He was 36, in comma with nearly no chance of survival.

The fact that I was 30, alone and was taking this huge responsibility pushed me to a corner to have a face-to-face conversation with grief.  I had to ask grief to stay one step back till I did what I needed to do. By the time all the rituals were completed and I was all alone in our home; I took a deep breath and began listening to silence.

It took me another 30 days to finally accept the fact that he is no more and to sit down and cry.  I know that I was fully responsible to make my journey that time onwards to be a better one and not to fall back to the sadness alone.

The first step in dealing with grief of losing a loved one is acceptance.

I believe that acceptance of the events which has unfolded in life would be the key to open other doors of survival. I was having a mixture of bottled- up emotions which often led me to looking for answers for a series of  “What-if “ questions. “What is this didn’t happen. What if I didn’t do this and so on.”

Only once I have accepted that he was no more, that there is an empty space and I have no choice but to deal with grief no matter what; that I actually become calmer.

I knew what I did was the best for him and myself.

I chose to talk to people who were willing to listen without judging my actions. Eventually, it helped me to be contented and accept the fact that I was a widow at the age of 30.

Accepting lost is not easy but the heaviness was reduced and I was feeling lighter which helped me to look at things from a different perspective.

This led me to the next step. Taking care of myself. I began focusing on myself, paying closer attention to my eating habits and fitness journey. The more I pour energy inwards, the lesser I felt the existence of my grief. Trust me, I am again saying that grief doesn’t disappear into the thin air just like that, but it stayed on as a loyal motivator. I used my grief of losing my husband to lose 43kgs because health was one of my main concern.

Grief ultimately helped me to support my journey of making a dream of ours become a reality. When I first heard my voice filling the conference hall during the launching of a local album back in 2015, I said in my heart and I felt in my tears, “Here you go! I wish you were here listening to this, watching me getting these applauses from the public but I accept that you are not here.”

I made myself a better version from the one I was in the past with the help of grief. I began writing again after a very long time. This long-lost hobby of mine kept me alive by allowing me to pour my heart out through words.

Dealing with grief became so much easier as I focused inwards, instead of looking for an external factor to help me. Besides accepting the loss and to focus on myself I began celebrating his life in bits and pieces. Initially, it was a difficult for me to go on days like his birthday, our anniversaries and so on. These special occasions would make me take one step backward and lay low till I start to feel normal.

Slowly, as I work on myself, making grief my best friend I chose to celebrate these special occasions in life. How did I do it?

I began taking up some of his practices as mine.

For example, every Ramadhan he would donate dry items to a nearby mosque. In addition, he always bought food or drinks when he saw old, homeless people.

Every single time I do these acts of kindness, there is a joy and contentment within me. I felt like I was celebrating his life and our memories, even after he had passed away.

Grief, my dear friends, allowed me to explore life in a different way. It led me to be more alert of my surrounding, to be more giving whenever I can, in any amount I could and sometimes, it is just me smiling to a stranger or holding the door open for the next person after me.

By accepting and embracing grief, I know I have become a better and not a bitter person.

I understand that we all deal with grief differently and that it could act as a double -edged dagger.  We have the choice to use grief as a tool to help us grow, or the other way around.

We have the capability to use grief to build others around us, or to destroy.

Elizabeth Ross writes,

“The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one, you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole but you will never be the same again. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to.”

For me, this journey began ten years ago at the age of 30. I was younger, naïve and full of dreams. These 10 years has not been the greatest journey but an extravagant one which I celebrate on a daily occasion.

Obviously, I have made my share of mistakes, which I took up as lessons grief had taught me.

Constantly evolving; the whole process took me to sharp turnings where I learnt to travel in harmony with my grief.

I am going to be 40 soon.

I am older, happier, and still full of dreams.

As what Arthur Golden has mentioned, …one day we wonder what has become of it.

I know, I won’t wonder too long.

I know my grief build me, because I chose to allow it to make me who I am today.

So, I shall leave you with this question.

Do you deal with grief or choose to ignore it?

How Do You…?

How do you go about it?

Do you take it slowly or accept the harshness as hard as you could?

As great as you think you are, you may stumble. There may be some hiccups along the way but yes! You learn to handle the curves better, day by day; one experience at a time.

So tell me, how do you handle truths which do not fit your box of ideologies?

You may deny. You may accept. But how do you run away from the consequences you have created?

Slowly?

You have provided me with concepts, and I have molded them, reshaped them as the way I see the world.

Today, all those ideologies do not feed me.

They do not excite me.

But, you carved the path.

I am on it.

I am holding on to my reshaped self on this path with no where to go but ahead.

Live

When I write what I call as poems; I write what comes from within; a result of living, observing and communicating with a number of people from various walks of life.

When I paint what I see, it becomes something I wouldn’t know how till the end reaches and I know, I should stop.

Some interactions trigger many elements residing within. The emotion gets enhanced and the mind travels. Often.

These communications I’ve no words to describe involves the experiences somewhere in the past. A life I may have lived and forgotten.
A life with series of events, wants, desires and needs, triggering the colours and words.

For me, these are very spiritual. I’m creating something out of Love, be it in words or colours.

They are close to me and my existence as who I am.

They’ve been building, and rebuilding me from time to time and I never once expected anyone else to be able to relate.

My love, longings, losts, gains, and all the stories I keep telling are results of my 40 years of living.

I’m the product of myself.

I didn’t start writing, or singing or even painting because of my late husband.
But, he often reminded me I always should do what I’m good at. He often told me that it’s my responsibility to complete my own journey and be more than I ever was.

I’ve been labelled as writing out of my loss. My lovely, sometimes lusty, beautiful yet sad words are from my very own journey. They don’t belong to my widowhood of 10 years. They don’t belong to my yearnings and longings.
They belong to me, an individual, a woman, an artist as a result of my interactions.

Love me or hate me,
I’m Chelvi.

Not a sad widow who feels any hatred towards the journey I’ve gone through.
It made me better.

It made me silent.

It has made me full.

Complete.

And in this mad, mad world I have my own space where I cannot allow you to have a cup of tea or coffee.

The sacred space is mine alone.

Not even to the memories of him.

What remains is the way guided me towards this path I’m on.
I’m the living proof that he had made me. Or at least pushed me towards the right path.

I’ve accepted.
It’s going to be 10 years soon.

I’ve long ago accepted.

Don’t label and put me into boxes.
I’m not in any.
There’re no labels.

I love, so I write.
I love, so paint.

I love, so I love.

#chelviganesan #cgwrites

WHO?

“Masuk kandang kambing mengembek,Masuk kandang kerbau menguak”.

Tapi bagaimana pula jika aku bukan kambing, mahupun kerbau?

Mungkin aku boleh mengembek atau menguak beberapa hari. Beberapa bulan?

Adakah aku sesuaikan perwatakan aku bagai kambing atau kerbau untuk diterima?

Adakah jiwa akan tenang?

Apa jika aku mengembek atau menguak, akan diterima?

Bukankah dalam tidak sedar, perwatakan diri sebenar pasti akan tertonjol juga?

Why should I be where I don’t belong, and compete in a race I don’t have to?

Why would you want to be goat, when you’re the lioness herself?

#chelviganesan

Stories

When I was newly married and living in Butterworth, Penang, I was exposed to a totally new lifestyle.

My glass bubble shattered. My version of world seemed like a distant past.

That is where I grew up as an adult. The more people I met, came across, spoke to the more different life became.

Transvestites waiting for their clients, under the street light.

Men working odd jobs, peddling drugs.

Women with children with husbands who did not want to work, forcing the wife to be the breadwinner while they stay home.

Men, who gather daily at coffee shop for beer drinking sessions.

Cheap liquor.

Girls running away from home because of abuse.

Parents sending children out for work and not to school.

House being sealed for tenants were unable to pay rent.

They all had stories.

They all had their versions of stories, chocked down the throat.

Their stories were untold.

Their stories are not rosy, but full of thorns that you may bleed trying to hold it longer or stronger.

Their stories need a voice.

Act Of Giving

Many of us give. We give back to the society in different ways.

I have friends who serve free food for the needy. I have known people who go all out to save the strays and homeless. I have come across people who would move mountains to make sure their aid reaches people.

When one gives in one way, and not the same as ours, it does not mean they are not giving enough. or we are giving too much. There is never too much or too less.

My late husband used to donate to surau whenever it is Ramadhan. He will buy food if he saw someone hungry, or ask money; sitting outside shops or banks. From him, I learnt giving doesn’t need to be in the form of money. Giving is when you help someone, from your heart.

Sometimes, we get too judgmental about people who post their giving act on social media. I suppose it is very subjective. For me, it will be a good exposure and realization about what the actual condition around us are.

Today, I would like to express my gratitude for people who have been giving, in ways they never realize had been helping others.

Vasantha Kumari is a friend I have never met and I know her from Facebook. Every morning, she shares beautiful, motivational quotes in her Facebook and Instagram profile which I believe is a beautiful way to start off the day.

Hiridas Suberminam and wife Nesamalar Subramaniam have been saving and feeding many dogs with the help and support of others as well.

Puvaneswari Narayanasamy and her team of volunteers and not forgetting her family also have been going all out in saving many strays around Ipoh.

Sugitha Kanniaseelan and Nithya Kumar are two yoginis who share the beauty of yoga through their Facebooks respectively.

The whole team of CUMIG, are always sharing information regarding higher education opportunities within Malaysia. This has been going on for many years and they are doing a lot of sharing to reach out school leavers who may need help.

Syed Azmi is someone I look up to. He has been sharing a lot about child abuse, sexual harassments and related matters, especially through his FB Live sessions to educate parents and the public in general.

Giving does not necessarily be in the form of money. Sometimes, it is us , our Time and energy.

I’ve been thinking

I’ve been thinking, what is left for me to fight for?

I’ve been thinking, if rain is enough for my lonely days and maybe nights too?

Sometimes, I think of you, but mostly I think of myself.

I’ve left the old hut and the town of loneliness.

But, maybe I’ve carried you too long?

I need to put you down. I can’t be grounded. So I’ve been thinking again. And then again, where would I be accepted?

There has to be a space where I’m loved completely, with no questions asked and no doubts.

So, I’ve been thinking of places I’ve not seen, people I’ve not met. Oh, I’ve also been thinking of the touches we left on each other the other night, when the skies were full of stars.

I’ve been thinking if I will ever return but returning never becomes my priority.

But the truth is, I’ve been thinking if you miss me, because I do.

I miss you on this rainy evening.

With Love,

CG

The Rice Flour Putu

Putu, was never my favourite food.

I bought a packet of Baba’s Putu Flour and have Ben keeping it for some time to make for Appa.

After battling in the kitchen, while trying to recall the texture, I kept it aside waiting for him to come over.

Being a good cook and a foodie, in his first spoonful of putu, he claimed the texture of the flour was not as good as the one made from scratch.

Ah, and then! He asked me to pour his hot coffee into his plate. 😮 Looks like I don’t really know him. What a comfort food!

Quick Lunch

Appa has a bad habit. When he feels like it, he would take his morning insuline injection but won’t take his breakfast.

I’ve got so tired of reminding him not to do this. Today he came to my place at 9.30am. He said he just woke up, and didn’t take his breakfast. But, as usual his injection taken. After my few minutes of nagging, continued with my brother in law too reminding him about being hypo, he said “okay, just make me some drinks”. 😠

When I asked about lunch? It seems that yesterday he did ‘nasi goreng’ (fried rice). And today too he wanted to do the same thing. When I said, let me do the fried rice here, he insisted that he had already told my mom to cook extra white rice for his fried rice.

After a quick scanning in my fridge, I told him I’ll cook.

He went to talk to his friend, and I quickly prepared some rasam, potato piraddal, ladies fingers, and fried egg.

On time, he came to get his food at 11.30am.

These kind of incidents make me rethink of marriage. It may not work for me.

Looking at him, thinking of all the years he worked so hard to provide for us, I know one thing for sure.

You need to choose your partner, very correctly.