Purple Ribbon

I wear the purple ribbon.
I am no survivor,
merely, the survived.

The world lost a fighter,
but I lost my father.
It came fast,
and way too soon.
A week before, I was cribbing,
the way only daughters can to fathers,
about tugs of war with adulthood.

You looked at me with your omniscient face,
the reflection of my five-year-old self
in your gaze.
I am sure you struggled then,
to see me as an adult
the same way I struggled being one.

In your passing,
I finally triumphed,
hurled into shark-infested waters,
as I was learning
to wade in the pond.

Would you be proud
or would you be sad,
at this girl grown up too soon?

We were from different generations,
set 40 years apart;
but we were kindred spirits,
You, my best friend, my confidante,
the hand on my head,
the food to my soul.

Our starry eyes often sparked
as they met;
Now, there is just my gaze,
dull and distant,
smothered by a melancholic fog
of infinite spread,
Remnants of the great storm cloud of grief
that had only just settled in.
Its nature, like a snow globe,
stirred up at the slightest action.
Relics and memories flood
at a knock on remembrance’s gate.

A bittersweet smile is born and set in,
the warmth of it acidic.
Where once was joyful banter,
lies an endless chasm,
and only grief and longing left to fill it.


Just the word had made you shudder,
You curled up in bed,
became a shadow of a man.
You, of composure and faith,
the bravest man I knew,
lay broke and bare
before my very eyes.

More than your body,
it was will you lost,
Struggle never broke you
the way that prognosis did.
Then it all came, like an earthquake;
unannounced, unwarranted,
the breathlessness,
the hospitalisation,
the infection, the operation,
the sepsis.

And then, nothingness –
the gory aftershock.
You lay there, between death and life,
for a long long week.
Every day we prayed for you to wake,
and every day etched a darker picture
of you edging toward death.

Hope died. Faith followed.
And soon, you did too.

There was no time to grieve then and then.
There was grief for a lifetime too many.

I wear this ribbon now, five years later,
I wear it in awareness and solidarity,
in pain, hope and loss.
For the world is not made of my singular loss,
numerous familiar faces flash me by,
family, teacher, peer, stranger and role model –
a lot too many lives won and lost at war.

A battle with their own body,
with only hope and will at their grasp.
Unlike you, some are lucky to live on,
Unlike you, some get to fight the battle;
but alas, when body is a battlefield,
victory rarely comes unscathed.
You were lucky, you did not suffer;
They are lucky, they get to live on.

Shruthi Ramesh is a 29-year-old architect and writer. You can find her on Instagram @shruthi.arki.

Featured image credit: Barbara A Lane/Pixabay. Illustration: LiveWire