Of deaths and the power to overcome grief

Shihab Sarkar | Published: April 18, 2019 21:19:35 | Updated: April 20, 2019 21:15:24

Notwithstanding the fact that the dictates of nature are irreversible, some of its behaviour continues to perplex man. Many people find them to be erratic and without reason. The worst victims go even to the length of terming the grand design of nature as being filled with incongruities. Spells of desperation prompt a few to call nature's dealing with man cruel. Yet sages and wise men have urged man to remain calm and patient over the aberrations and exceptions resorted to by nature at times.

In reflections on nature and their manifestations in human life, the subject that receives the chief focus is death. The end of life is inevitable. A highly revered mystic, born in western Asia, was once asked about the signs of one's approaching death. He replied that they were clear. As he said, the first sign was the fact that the person was born. Others say the moment a baby arrives in its mother's lap with the longevity assigned to him or her by the divine entity, their progress towards death begins. It applies to all deaths -- be one's ending comes at the ripe old age or at a premature age, or when one is in the prime time of his or her life. The whole gamut of life is a great mystery; some unexplainable deaths add to the enigma. Most of the people find it hard to endure the death of a dear person. Instances of many becoming deranged over these deaths are plenty. But amazingly, nature has also given the bereaved man the power to bear with the deaths and the void that these endings leave behind. It has empowered man with the ability to forget the initial shocks sparked by a dear one's sudden death. An immortal proverb thus says: Time is a great healer. With the passage of time, the seemingly unbearable burden of loss goes on alleviating. What finally remain are faint traces of pain.

Some people cry their heart out over the deaths of close people. Many others remain composed, and take the loss stoically. A great example is Rabindranath Tagore. He had several offspring. Unfortunately, except Rathindranath Tagore most of them left this world at a premature age. In their heart-wringing deaths, the great poet has displayed a kind of composure and endurance which are seen rarely. Those around him haven't seen a single drop of tear in the poet's eyes. Even the day one of his favourite daughters breathed her last, Tagore was said to have attended a pre-scheduled discussion after her funeral rituals. But did he lack human feelings and emotion? Few will agree. After the cremation of one of his sons was over, he completed some of his routine chores. Night fell, darkness engulfed the whole neighbourhood. The poet was found missing. At long last, some family members discovered the poet sitting helplessly at the corner of the roof of his Jorasanko family residence. He was found weeping inconsolably holding the trousers of his dead son onto his bare chest. Many view his famous song 'Aaj jyotsna ratey shobai gechhey boney …' as a romantic song. In fact, it is a song that mourns the death of his favourite son. On one moonlit light, with Tagore in his reserved compartment in the Kolkata-Shantineketan train, his personal assistant found the poet singing the song in a low voice -- his tear-soaked eyes panning the 'Shaal' forest awash with the autumn moonlight.   

However, there were reverse pictures, too. The Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam became so shocked after the death of his son Bulbul that he was found tottering on the verge of mental breakdown. Upon overcoming the spell of mourning, the poet composed dozens of songs on Bulbul's death. Two immortal pieces of them are 'Ghumiye gechhey sranto hoye aamar ganer bulbuli …' and 'Shunnyo e bukey more phirey aai phirey aai …'   Both Tagore and Nazrul were great persons. They were gifted with the kind of creative genius that alleviates their grief through songs and poems. There is a poem by the great American poet Robert Frost which narrates the grief of a farmer as he returns home after burying his beloved son in a remote graveyard. Compared to the geniuses, the common men and women react in an instant manner. They break down in heart-piercing wails, and continue grieving until their tears dry up. Many of them are hardly able to return to normal life. A lot of people turn away from material and earthly routines, with some choosing the lives of a recluse or a hermit. Instances are plenty that show the grief-stricken people turn to mysticism or different ways to delve into things arcane. Although it doesn't befit men of stature like Rabindranath or Nazrul, both of them at one point of time turned to the paranormal. Tagore was said to have arranged spiritual sittings where the living could 'communicate' with the dead through a human medium. People around the middle-aged poet dismissed those 'sessions' as the outbursts of the extreme forms of grief. However, this extra-sensory spell did not last long. The poet could muster the strength to return to writing and other mundane activities. But he could not completely overcome the shocks caused by the successive deaths of his children.

Following the death of Bulbul, Nazrul also for some time turned to mysticism, especially 'Tantrik' school. He started travelling from place to place aimlessly or in quest of peace. Thanks to his flamboyant youth and creative bursts, Nazrul could also bring himself to poetry and music once again.

The crux of the matter is few people are capable of remaining free of the inner bleeding and the torments following the deaths of their near and dear ones. Great people have many outlets for a relief. The commoners like us are deprived of those. They remain overtaken by their personal sufferings and a pervasive gloom for long periods of time. Some carry the burden of grief till their last days.


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