Trigger warning: This poem contains mention on suicide.

When someone dies
What is the procedure that follows soon after
Do you first delete their phone numbers
Or wait for them to call you back
Because yesterday you had no time to check on them
And today you just can’t wait to listen to their voice.

When someone dies
Do you first cry/wail/scream
Or run to a funeral home
Because chances are you might need to stand in line
So you rush through the crowd
And whisper scream once and twice
As your stomach curls inside
And bile runs to your mouth.

When someone dies
Do you wait for someone else to give you a shoulder
Or do you think about how you will spend the rest of your life
Waiting for them to knock at your doors
With same silly smile
Or do you just stay numb
Consoling others like a machine:
“This too is a part of life”.
Do you forgive, after someone dies,
Yourself and them
Especially when they have chosen the death for themselves?

Do you cry or move on with your life
Like the postman did
When father asked, “Did you hear about our landlord?”
And he just hummed a vague “yes”.
The apple orchard right next to my balcony stands all fine
The trucks are moving with their buzzing horns of latest Bollywood tracks
The building is too still with commotion
But who has the answer to why did he take the step–
The landlord who sat with my father on rare days
And talked about how this country was burning
How do I process this?

Suicide is not a monster living far away in caves of shining cities
It resided in my building
And came out just today to show its face
How do I process this numbness?

When someone dies and you don’t know why’s and how’s
Do you let the departed leave in peace
Or just wish for another answer
However wrong.
We are no more the mere tenants of a mere old building which didn’t have good doors
We have now received an identity
“That building whose landlord died by suicide.”

When someone dies
Someone who you looked at occasions
Greeted him and then not
Who talked to your father about the falling apple prices
How do you grieve for someone who is so distant yet held a minuscule space in your life
Do you cry again
Do you put on the music and listen to nothingness
Do you let your confused heart grieve
Or do you write another poem
That just doesn’t say anything much.

The hushed humdrum of this building will haunt at nights
I know I know
The tenants will leave
I know, I know
But the door will forever remain closed
The room where the landlord lived and perhaps cried himself to sleep.

Bharti Basal is a 22-year-old poet from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Featured image credit: Pixabay