‘Wakanda Forever’ and Moving On

I recently watched Wakanda Forever, which was a poignant tale about grief, loss and moving on. The film was stuck in my mind long after I left the theatre. It was far different from most Marvel movies because its constant focus was not on what or who was on the screen but on who wasn’t. The spectre of Chadwick Boseman’s passing loomed large over the entire experience.

Loss is universal. If you live long enough, you will inevitably experience painful losses. Moving on is less universal. While many people would say that you eventually move on, it is incredibly difficult and not always possible. Watching Shuri, Queen Ramonda, Wakanda, and the audience around me trying to move on from Boseman’s passing reminded me of the little ways in which life has moved on for me and my family over the years after each painful loss.

I see life moving on in the shoe cabinet of my house. All the shoes belong to either me or mom because dad no longer needs shoes or slippers. His old shoes have been packed and kept in the balcony’s storage space.

I see life moving on in fading scratch marks on my mom’s bedroom floor where my dad’s bed once stood. It used to be my parents’ bedroom and held two beds. Now, there is only one and I can scarcely remember how it used to look when there were two.

It moves on in my old cupboards where I once used to store my certificates, books, and clothes. It is now filled with surgical equipment, medical records, and tablets that will last months (we buy in bulk since it’s less expensive that way).

Also read: The Slaying of Grief

Sometimes I’m reminded of how we move on in the way my mother hugs me when she’s sad. Usually, she’d call up grandmother, but that’s no longer an option now. On days she feels especially low she calls out to her mother. I too stop and listen when she does this, half expecting a reply that never arrives.

The weeds growing around my father’s dream project (a homestay) in our native reminds me of it. Sometimes I feel that the land is calling out for its son whose only dream was to live out the rest of his days amidst the farm and jungle he grew up in. He now stares out through the same window at a concrete jungle. The visiting cards he had printed in batches now lie unused in the cupboard, buried under his medical records.

I am reminded of moving on at family gatherings too. Gone are the “if she was here” or “she would have done this”. They are now replaced by the mundane conversations of everyday happenings. In a way, it’s better, because hypotheticals only muddle the realities left behind.

Life moves on also on the terrace of our apartment where our dismantled dining table lies. It used to be the centre of our house, where we gathered each day for breakfast, snacks, and dinner. The centre is now occupied by an assortment of clothes and bags that belong to me. A makeshift personal space in the ironically named living room.

Sometimes I feel life moves on within me as well. The scar I swore I could still find till yesterday no longer seems to be there. My old Manchester United and Real Madrid jerseys don’t seem to fit me anymore (duh). It’s unsettling sometimes, I no longer recognise the body I live in.

Also read: Notes on Grief

Despite all of this, the grief of loss lingers on. It lies in wait within a cocoon of timelessness, waiting for when it can break out. It breaks out in the way new silences are born. You stumble upon it sometimes when you are playing cards with your mother and instinctively turn to where your father would sit and play his turn.

You find this grief in the way your mother and uncle discuss what to do with the ancestral house grandma left behind. You might even sometimes find it buried deep within a family album. In a photo of you with your grandmother at the Dona Paula beach.

Life moves on and grief lingers. In between, you play a game of hide and seek, hoping never to be caught unawares by the grief that is seeking you.

Featured image: Brandon Mowinkel / Unsplash