Just finished seeing Phenomenon, starring John Travolta. And kept thinking about how it would feel to have someone die in your arms. Or, for that matter, do anything in your arms! Like, sleep, cuddle or cry their heart out?
I have had the quite a few of these happen to me. I have had a baby fall asleep in my arms. I have cuddled loved ones. I have hugged people when they have recounted sad tales, looking for comfort and solace. And almost held someone when they died. Let’s see where each of them led.
I now have a niece who is a few months older than a year now. But my first encounter with her was when she was two months old. And she was born two months premature! She was a bit restless, and because I was a relative outsider, she didn’t respond too well to me first. After all, mine was a whole new touch and feel!
But after a couple of days, she found her comfort in my arms. She would listen to me, become quieter when I rocked her, and relaxed visibly. This greatly helped my sister, the infant’s mother, because she could now have a meal with a few other members of the family while I ’managed’ the little one.
It was on one of these occasions, when I was rocking her and cooing to her (which I didn’t even know I was capable of!) that she dozed off. My first reaction was relief, because it meant that she would not bawl out again! All I had to look for were her sudden movements, and pat her on her belly and chest, so that she would go back to sleep again. And it was this action that opened up a whole new vista of feelings in front of me!
Almost in some primal, pre-programmed way, the little girl had learnt to recognise my touch as a safe one! She felt reassured by one, and I felt a surge of paternal, protective instincts at having put that little, shifty infant at ease! She felt that she had a little less to fear when she was in my arms, and derived safety, courage, peace and what-not from my touch! I guess mothers must feel this everyday, but it was new to me, and wholly welcome! It’s probably the most soothing feeling in the world!
The next, obviously, is cuddling loved ones. I do that! Put my arms around them, and squeeze hard. Not in any bad sense, mind you. But I try to put in as much warmth as possible.
Of course, if it’s a girlfriend, the style of the hug changes, and so do the feelings conveyed in them. Then, the hugs seem to tell each other things like I love you, I’m here for you, I support you, Trust me, and a whole lot of things that can’t exactly be translated be into words! They are best experienced, and not just spoken about. The human body can be amazing at non-verbal communications such as these!
Another kind of hug that girlfriends and wives can give you is the hanging-in-your-arms hug. They just seem to rest on your arms, look up to you as if they worship every part of you with every part of themselves! You can kiss them anywhere on the face, hold their face tightly against that place in your chest that feels like as if the entire warmth of the sun has been poured into it, or simply cuddle them, running your fingers gently through their hair.
Girls are most prone when they are in your arms in this position, but that does not mean I am asking you to take advantage of that! It’s just that they can be extremely soft like that, opening up to you in a way that makes you feel like doing something that makes time freeze, and let the moment last forever!
I have also had an ex girlfriend tell me how one of her maternal uncles had mistreated her, the way perverts mistreat girls. She then proceeded to jump towards me, putting me in her embrace. I hugged her back, but did not feel the usual exuberance with which she hugged. Instead, there were a few tears, and something that I once again fail to describe, which signified that she was transferring the entire sadness of that episode to me through that intimate touch. And somehow, I was able to convert it into equal amounts of love and care, and return it to her!
It surprised me, though. Here she was, speaking about how she had dreaded and loathed the very touch or glance of another male, and yet, seeking solace and reassurance from another male! And then I figured something out. At that point, she had crossed a barrier, allowing me into a world where I was a confidante, a lover, a patient ear, a sympathiser and a few more things first, and a guy later! Once a girl gets to that point with a guy, it’s a sure-shot sign of love, even if she does not acknowledge it! At least, that’s what I have experienced!
And last holding someone who is dying. That was what had triggered this post. I had not actually held my mother when she had died. But for some inexplicable reason, I was there on that Friday early-afternoon, when all of my friends were in school. Earlier in the day, my mother had told my father not to send me to school, and he had, for some reason, complied.
Only a week earlier had I come to know that she had cancer, and that her chances of survival were slim. Ideally, when a 12-year-old hears it, he ought to break down completely. It’s a sad thing to happen to the boy, but natural. Inexplicable, I just toughened up. I became a rock, and it was not a happy transformation!
That was the embrace of death my mother experienced. I was briefly called into the room, and asked to pour a few drops of water into her mouth. More of a ritual than her thirst. I moved to a nearby room, pacing up and down, and wishing to the Almighty to let the moment pass without any sad news. My prayers went unanswered.
What does a person want when her or she wants to die in your embrace? Reassurance? Peace? They know they are going to die. What goes on through their minds? The melancholy of leaving so many loved ones behind? A feeling that a lot of things were left unfinished, many desires unfulfilled? And what if the approach of death is known beforehand? Doesn’t that make a porcupine out of every moment? A porcupine whose quills pierce you where no ointment can heal you?
Then again, of recent, I have discovered another embrace. This one is so endearing, engaging and caring that I never wanna let go of the person who has offered me everything, and has purchased every part of my being with it. Such is the trusting submission in that embrace that it drains away every iota of my melancholy! But more of that later.
Folks, please feel free to comment on this post. Your comments, along with the above-mentioned hug, have been keeping me going through some pretty depressing times! The only regular person to comment so far is Shubhayu. Thanks, bhai.