Metamorphosis and Grief

Article written by: Maria Varghese

Category: Creative Writing

I  dreamt once that I was in the airport and I was going back to Australia and even though I could not see them clearly, I saw the outline of my friends and classmates that I have known at school; and when me and this one friend in particular locked eyes we both started crying. 

We both had a common sense of understanding and a common fear: what if this is the last time, I see this’. This being my family, my friends, the place I grew up with. We were grieving & we just didn’t know it yet.  

So, here is a little background: I came to Australia at February 2020 for university and with the isolation that has been imposed it seems that I have no form of escape. I stay with my grandparents and my new home [that I still feel at certain days I haven’t gotten used to] are the 4 white walls around me and the window that is parallel to my door that has little to no view {privacy laws}. 

 There is little comfort with rushing cars and there is some comfort that no matter where I am, I always am fascinated by pretty clouds , the breathtaking colour of the sky , the sunlight that manages to escape and sit at the opposite walls of my room -it looks hopeful.  

As naive and optimistic it sounds , I came here with the idea and the intention that I will make my life somehow , I will find the pieces in my university ,that life will begin & that maybe I will get clarity of what I want and what I should be- its what gave me courage to walk alone out of the plane and into something unknown. 

But instead, I go for online classes with the idea that it will or might get me from point A to point B. But that’s it, there no ‘ oh ’ moment where I come into some form of realisation on what I want, it is now a bitter acceptance, a more ‘this is it I guess’ moment. It is still odd trying to find some comfort in this mess , this isn’t purgatory in my own making .The more I think about finding out what I want, the more uncertain I get with everything; And what this situation has taught me is that: everything is unpredictable. 

What was in-fact quite surprising is how much I surprised myself, I always thought myself as someone who wouldn’t compromise. someone who would fill the blank spaces in the white walls with art , postcards, letters from my friends , manifestos I wrote for myself, someone whose entire room told you what type of person they were , there is this constant reminder that lives in this space that says ‘ I exist, I live here’. Instead I have made peace with a lot of things, I have 2 pieces of wall art and one small preinstalled boomerang that was seen as ‘decor’.  

When I think of home, it was always a place of constant noise – my father playing old Indian songs that he says is what ‘real music is’, my mother’s conversation with her colleagues of how her work was, the faded noise of the show that my brother is watching on Netflix. Here miles away it’s a different story, despite the ongoing traffic its very silent and I am painfully reminded: I am alone and if all of my belongings could fit into a box, it would fit in the two suitcases that I brought with me. 

I found out that I enjoy having some structure [even though there is the lack of it at certain days] and I’m a bit of a neat freak, I like taking the lead despite being so scared of any form of disapproval. I found out I’m not so close to a lot of people and that I prefer only to have a small amount of people involved daily in my life. I always imagined a future where there were crowds, people constantly rushing in, where there is little room for silence and constant noise that fills up the entire house indicating life. 

But instead I have this: a version where I slowly have made comfort with my routines, the conversation with my friends and family that keep me sane, the loud silence fills my room that seems impersonal and sometimes feels empty to me. ‘This is where I can exist’ Is what I think to myself ,when I curl up in my bed on my bad-days and try to take little room, life is all about adjustments and compromises and this is one I’m willing to make. 

I try not to think of home too much: the last days before I came to Australia , my last hug with my family , a random Saturday in December last year where I basked in the warmth of the sun , the loud and open laughter that escapes from mine and my friends mouth , the feeling of arrival when me and my friends visit our coffeeshop that’s a 15 minute walk from where I live. I avoid it all costs as it seems going back is an idea that is far too out of reach, something that needs to be buried and forgotten. I am on this cycle of grief: mourning what’s lost, the idea of what I pictured myself and my life; As now something that I have known all my life and for so long tastes as something foreign. 

I don’t know how to process grief. I never did. When I think of grief I think of the quote by Anne Carson which goes like : “Why do tragedies exist ? Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief. 

Theoretically, I can understand that the stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Theoretically I can understand all of the stages except for acceptance. What are you accepting exactly? The life that you once had, the life you wont or the life that you are having? 

On the days that I do grieve I always end up thinking of different versions of myself. The past versions of myself that seemed optimistic and seemed brave in retrospection. The life that I currently have and despite its normalcy and the lack of unpleasantness, there is something constantly missing, and it gnaws right at my chest. And whatever it is, it seems out of reach and unattainable. The future self is now someone far calmer, maybe a bit tired, certain and confident but always understanding and kind. 

So when I think of trying to explain what happening now to a younger me, someone who was tired and drained and just wants some sense of clarity and hopes that things don’t go wrong. I don’t know how to comfort her , I don’t know how to lift her spirits with far too much false hope or ruin her naivety. 

But despite the grief, I try to be something or someone that my future self can look back at smile and has this look that says ‘this was the point where it all changed . Someone that my past self-admires or runs to at the face of difficulty. It’s difficult to be comfort of someone who knows so little or doesn’t understand.  

But mostly, I try to be hopeful, Like the sunlight that manages to illuminate my room despite the barrier. It has given me so much hope and comfort than I have ever known and it’s a good reminder and one that allows me to get out of bed and come into terms of some form of acceptance ; after all its difficult to provide comfort to something you still haven’t fully understood yet.