Friday, January 02, 2009

God Rest your soul , young Varun

Varun was a few days old when we first saw him. Ela and Bryan’s first born lay in his baby bassinet, at his grandparents house at Rest House Crescent, all crumpled, bright and fair, legs kicking, looking at us with faint interest in his beautiful brown eyes . A lovely baby, even given my bias being his mother Ela’s childhood classmate, friend and therefore by definition, his fond aunt. He was the second baby born in our close knit group, and I recall us bachelor girls crowding around a flushed, tired but proud Ela-Mom in some excitement and wonder. I think we just stopped short of prodding him to check if he was for real. They were great parents Ela, Bryan, and with a phenomenal infrastructure and extended family and grandparents. No wonder Varun flourished and bloomed as he did.

And then he grew. The sisters Veena and then Esha came along, each cuter than the other , beautifully mannered , with that happy heart , confidence and great charm we took for granted in the family . Varun was a great big brother , and his sisters quite obviously adored him. We watched as a tiny lil fellow stood out in sports, elocution and was so popular with his friends and classmates . We just didn’t know how much. I remember meeting him at age 13 at Kadambam on Manipal center for a dosa breakfast where he had come in after a cricket match at school , all sweaty and happy , and he walked right up to us , smiled with that delightful gap toothed smile we remembered so well, and said hello . A teenager typically would cross the road to avoid his parents’ friends ( I completely understood - they are so un-cool ! ) , but there he was ,as well mannered, fun and affectionate as always.

Years pass, we see him on and off. We read about his cricket and sports in the papers, and raise our eyebrows. He’s doing well, our Varun, we say to ourself. The next time we met that I particularly recall was when he had a small cycle accident with his sister and was at Lakeview Hospital with broken leg and abrasions . Eyebrows raised , and wryly smiling in teenage embarrassment , but tolerating with some good humor the ‘ almighty fuss’ that people were making , including his normally matter of fact parents. They are a lovely family, just perfect, and you see their love and easy togetherness in good times over Christmas and birthdays , but it shines through particularly when there is adversity .

The last time I saw him was last Christmas, when I was amazed how much young Varun had grown. There he was at home passing around the cake and eats , and generally being a terrific host in addition with his phenomenal height , great looks and easy manner , this was one handsome boy ( despite the fashionable and horrendous goatee that all teens seem to sport these days ! ) . And a right grown young man. Centered, rooted, matter of fact, and yet such a cool dude. We could talk as grown ups, and I was amazed that the transition had happened , and when my husband Raj and I drove home, marveled at this whole new person we had met , and secretly congratulated Ela and Bryan in our mind for raising such a fine young man. And I knew she would be even more proud of him. He was in Law School at Pune, and Ela -Mom was just starting to worry whether he would be okay away from home. He was.

Until now.
It is so sad to speak about this gorgeous young boy, the collective son of our entire group, in the past tense. Its intolerable cruelty to think a single minute in a car accident changed so many lives. Varun deserved to be spoken in the Present Continuous, in the very least. In fact, he deserved a Future, at the very least. I cannot bear to think that he stands in our minds, frozen in time , 19 going on 20 , and that we will never attend his graduation party , check how his first interview went , his first job, demand a treat from his first salary , congratulate him and the family on his marriage and family , not see him watch his sisters walk down the aisle one day , or be an uncle to their children or organize a slap up party to celebrate his parents golden anniversary . Or see him live to experience and conquer the world as he so obviously meant to do. That’s heartbreaking, it just is.

He would have been twenty years old on Jan 16th this new year , this little crumpled baby I saw nearly two decades ago, in my friends arms . I have no words to share how tragic this loss to the world is. However there is another side that can comfort us . Kahlil Gibran said ‘When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ‘ And its the truth , its our delight that we all weep for now, because its past .

Ela’s worst ticking off to me was entreating me not to ‘fuss’ ( the most scathing word in the vocabulary, I think ). Her children grew up happy and confident with her no fuss, lots of love approach as well as Bryan’s sneaky pampering. ‘‘Priya , no fuss now . No drama queen vibes, if you please".
You will have to excuse me this time , Ela , Bryan. You have your son to mourn and grieve, but we too have a young boy who we treasured , loved and will miss. We feel your pain, and we will fuss this time, with your permission. He deserved fuss, love and so much more.

He deserved life.
And the world at his feet.
Not a mound of earth.

God rest your soul, young Varun .

1 comment:

desigirl said...

I came here via a link from terri's and this post spoke volumes to me because of my own recent loss. On Oct 31 morning, my baby cousin passed away suddenly and my family and I are still reeling.

Sincere condolences to Varun's family and to you, who lost him. No words will ever suffice, this I know.