Readers of Daily (w)rite, if you’re here, please welcome Anouradha Bakshi, my friend, philosopher and touchstone for more than a decade.
She runs Project WHY, a little non-profit with a large heart, in New Delhi. For this whole week, she’s taking over Daily (w)rite.
Please give her all the love and attention you usually give me, because she merits it far more than I ever will.
Today is the last day or the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Today’s prompt is GRIEF.
Grief is often associated to that intense pain often associated with loss. It is a powerful energy that has the ability to destroy you.
It takes over all the space in your life barely allowing you to breathe. And even with time, it remains deep in your heart ready to spring up at the prompt of a word, a smell, a memory…
I lost both my mother and father in the span of a year, more than twenty five years ago.
Being an only child, I was devastated and lost. I was unable to handle the loss and sunk into deep depression. The grief was so intense that I was unable to function. I became agoraphobic and turned into a recluse. Nothing seemed to help.
But the universe had other plans that were about to unfold.
I was told about a healer who lived in a ‘slum’! My desperation was such that I was willing to try everything under the sun. I did not know that my life was about to change. The person in question was Mataji, a lady about my age who presided over a minuscule temple where Gods and humans lived side by side. The energy she emanated was palpable and simply entering that space lifted my spirits. I felt comfortable after years. She gently asked me what was wrong and the tears I had not shed welled out unabashedly, accompanied by incoherent words. She took me in her arms and calmed me down then told me the words that would change my life forever: take your pain and transform it into something your parents would be proud of.
The rest is history. It is in that street where Mataji lived that Project Why took seed. It is out of my grief that Project Why was born, and I say so with all responsibility as I know that only a quasi-supernatural energy could make me walk the road less travelled and find within me a strength and determination I did not know existed. I was almost possessed.
The energy that had locked me up within myself for years took on a new life. Nothing seemed impossible, every obstacle had to be surmounted, there was no other option. We found the space we needed, and eager children ready to learn English. For the first time in many years I was walking with a spring in my gait and all the phobias and ailments were out of the window.
Project WHY allowed me to transform the energy of grief into the energy of hope.
Today Project Why stands tall, a befitting homage to those I grieved for, for so many years. It is where children and adults dare to dream, a place where only laughter and joy prevails, a place that is an instant feel-good shot! It brims with positive energy and happy occurrences. It is undoubtedly the one achievement I can be proud of, and it was borne out of grief, a grief I was able to transcend.
The Write Tribe festival of Words ends today. I am grateful to Damyanti for giving trusted her blog to me. It has been wonderful to write these posts based on prompts, something I had never done before. What was almost magical was to see how all these words could be so easily linked to what I hold dearest to my heart, Project Why, a journey that has made me who I am today and allowed me to come in contact with such wonderful people.
Thank you for reading my posts, and for your comments. Thank you for coming along on this journey. I hope you will visit Project Why some day, and keep us in your heart.
From next month onwards, Damyanti has invited me to write a post second Friday of each month.
I look forward to it, and hope to see you there.
What role has grief played in your life? How do you deal with grief? What advice would you give to someone paralysed by grief?
What have you thought of this series of posts? Would you like to visit Project WHY?
Anouradha Bakshi is the descendant of an indentured labour and a freedom fighter, and the daughter of a senior diplomat. She travelled the world before settling in India.
A professor in French, an interpreter and a conference organiser, she found her true calling when she set up Project WHY in the year 2000.
She is a wife, and a mother not only to her two girls, but also to the scores of children whose dreams she holds in custody.
Did you like Anouradha’s post? Here are her earlier posts on Forgive, Miracle, Serenity, Nurture, Influence and Trust.
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Thank you so much Simon. A bug hug
I try not to judge people who are incapacitated by grief. There are some losses that I cannot conceive although I have lost loved ones and friends. I find solace in writing about those people.
One should not judge people incapacitated by grief as grief is such a personal thing and each one processes it in a different way. I too found solace in writing about those I love and have done so many times. A. bug hug
Beautiful writing, beautiful story. How beautifully you channelised your pain into doing something wonderful. So great to read about Mata ji. Outwardly so ordinary, but so powerful yet so gentle inside. These are god’s gifts to us in the moments of upheaval. God bless.
Thank you Abhijit for your kind words. It took a long time to get where I am but ultimately I feel I have done something those I lost and mourn would be proud of. Mataji is truly amazing, a force of nature. She is like the wise women we read about in books. Sadly she is ailing now but still radiates so much love and energy. As you say people like her are God’s gift to us. project Why would not have happened without her.
Thank you for writing about grief, a subject so many avoid. I feel my adult life has been a massive lesson in trying to come to terms with grief.
I lost all seven babies I carried in my twenties, lost a breast to cancer in my thirties, then sadly all but one of my family died within four months in my forties. My only remaining family, my twin had a huge brain haemorrhage/stroke in our early fifties, and after two years in rehab is a shadow of her former self. I have in reality lost the twin I used to have.
Now in my sixties I am increasingly further disabled by several chronic, debilitating and degenerative diseases. I have lost all my independence and have no option but to rely on my truly amazing husband, for everything. I can rarely leave my home and can walk just a few steps unaided. It is a different loss, but I admit I do grieve for the active capable independent woman I once was.
So, I do still struggle with my losses, the what ifs and the what might have beens. A tune playing on the radio can immediately transport me back to a memory and so the grief overwhelms me once more. Not a day passes when I don’t suddenly ‘miss’ part of my past or part of the life I assumed I would have. I look to my future and wonder when my losses will turn to hope and when I can overcome my grief.
Thank you dearest Trisha for sharing your story. I know it must have been very painful but I admire your courage in being able to put it in words. Very few can do that and that shows how incredibly brave and loving you are, a big hug to you. Grief stays with you and needs the tiniest prompt to overwhelm you. I do say I have overcome my grief but must confess that it takes a whisper for it to appear again and I have to try and overcome it and lay it to rest. You have gone through so much and yet your words are full of love. Reading them made me want to reach out to you and give you the biggest hug. You have an amazing husband and I am sure he is your strength. Please give him a hug from side too. We rarely truly overcome grief but learn to make it part of who we are. For me I still mourn my lost ones: my baby brother I never knew and my incredible parents who were my strength. I simply have made peace with my grief and tried to move on. You will too. I know it in my heart. Lots of love to you and should you need someone I am always there for you.
A wonderful, positive, way of dealing with grief. Thanks for all your posts, Anouradha, and I look forward to reading your future ones.
What an inspiring story lies behind this beautiful project of yours, Anou’di! The post is a beautiful reminder to the rest of us of how we have it in us the capability to transform our grief into something much bigger and better that can heal not just our own but other lives as well.
Thank you Esha. Yes we can turn grief into something beautiful, something that those we grieve for would be proud of.
Your parents would be extremely proud of Project Why and all you’ve accomplished!
Thank you Alex. I do hope so. I have strived to do everything I could to make them proud of me. I hope they are:)
it is my belief that “One cannot cherish success unless one has known failure, one cannot cherish happiness unless one has know sorrow, one cannot cherish love unless one has known heartache.” (Larry “Dutch” Woller)
You are so right. You have to touch the bottom to be able to rise!
Reblogging this to my readers at sister site Timeless Wisdoms
Thank you so much Ana
Bright blessings on your beautiful work in the world!
Such an inspiring story, also a reminder that things change for the better when their time comes.
Thank you Betul. Things do change with time but it is a long process. As you say it happens when time comes and then grief can be turned into hope!