When I was a child, I attended the marriage of my cousin’s sister, twenty years older than a 6-year-old me. After the rituals, when she had to start for her in-laws’ place, her mother (my maternal aunt), uncle, other aunties, including my ma, all started crying. I was so overwhelmed by everyone crying that I felt out of place. To my misery, I could not figure a reason for crying. I wondered should I be crying for a new doll or shoes or for not going to school the next day. I knew I had to cry, and the reason was not apparent to me as to why the rest of them were crying. I followed ma to the garden from where she watched the procession of in-laws leading the new bride to a beautifully decorated car. Ma was crying, and that led me to hold her sari and started crying. This time I was not sure should I cry loudly or simmer or have a smile–drop-a-tear kind. When things started getting complicated, I started crying my way, the whining way, as I would cry like a child to ask for food during our dinner or lunchtime. In a while, my ma noticed me crying and bent down to ask if all was okay, and all I could say was I am hungry, although the trigger was that collective atmosphere at the farewell bidding of a newlywed.
When my grandfather passed away, I wasn’t sure of what is passing away. I did not know what death was because that was my first encounter with losing someone forever. I knew the word death, though. And every year, whenever father would scold me for studies, I would tell myself that I would die in one year so that I have ample sympathy to squander in mud-sculpting, making dolls, and catching tadpoles. I was 11 or 12 when I lost my grandfather, but I wasn’t ready. I knew he would come back until the next day when someone said that he has passed away. At the burning ghat, I saw everyone crying. I knew people cry when something hurts, but grandfather wasn’t complaining of his pain; he was nowhere to be seen. My ma pulled me and started crying. Looking at my ma, I felt she was in pain, and to accompany her, I too started crying, but tears would hardly come out. I was still unsure that grandpa was no more which would mean I will have no one to protest when ma will punish me for my mischief, no more lamb and potato when he’ll get his pension. My ass-savior was gone. Later that night, people went for a dip in the cold pond and chewed neem leaves to fend anything evil as they just returned from the burning ghat. Post bath, they all went for their dinner while something bizarre possessed me, a certain kind of fear that my grandpa has come back. I was running a temperature, and for almost a month, I was bed-ridden and never went out for playing for fear of grandpa taking me along. Two weeks later the day, I contracted a fever that’ll not leave me, and yet my father would push me out to play and lock the door so that I am not home and brooding and sick. It was then when I cried, cried in episodes but friends came, and I played despite all fear.
I always knew that heartbreaks result in a lot of crying. When my heart broke for the first time, I didn’t have tears; I couldn’t cry for fear of being caught. I was sixteen and dating a thirty-two-year-old medical representative who I envied living an independent life and aspired that someday, I too will live alone. His balcony was adjacent to the point that we both shared the moon. So even if he weren’t there anymore, I would still wave at the moon, say goodnight, go to sleep, go to college the day next, then work and come home after a graveyard shift, and repeat. For four years, it continued that way until I changed states and moved to a new city. I never cried except when I would chance upon a movie where the actress will cry, and I’ll ask if it is unnatural for me not to cry? Then in 2010, he came and Liked my author page, and that was when I cried, and the experience was so new and strange. As a matter of fact, I still don’t know about his whereabouts. But stray tears come home nonetheless.
The above experiences are mere stories not necessarily to set any lesson but share them as they evolved to be my treasured moments growing up, certain peculiarities of my character. I am sure you, too, have many and would love to hear from you should you feel they can be shared, and there’s no shame about it. I have many more, and I’ll share it possibly from time to time, as and when I am ready.