Surjeet-Sarabjeet mix up: What must it be like spending a lifetime separated from loved ones? June 27, 2012
Surjeet or Sarabjeet, what’s in a name? On days when life hands you lemons and you barely glance at the news, it is hilarious to see that the hottest debate of the day was about two names that sound similar and belong to two very different people! What a storm this has raised and what a goof-up!
A few days ago, I had wondered what it would be like to not see your family for decades, to know you have children somewhere and be separated from them. There are days I have a morbid imagination. And the death of near and dear ones is a recurring thought (no idea why). Sometimes I project myself into that situation and see myself as resilient and strong, other times I watch myself pose a tough exterior while I smash myself into smithereens inside. So this time, I thought the separation thought through and decided it was a fate worse than losing someone to the certainty of death.
Well, I grew up hearing stories from my father of how things were when his father disappeared. He simply never returned home one evening. My dad was a baby and only made sense of this later. But it took a while for the family to figure out that my grandfather was murdered. The stress and the trauma (of waiting, realizing, experiencing widowhood and being a single parent to 4 boys) changed my grandmother’s personality forever, streaking her behavior with obsessiveness, guilt-ridden self-punishment and a certain type of stubbornness we have all learned to love and respect dearly.
I’ve known friends whose family members have simply walked out of the home and never returned, and the fate of the missing one was never ascertained in any definite, proven way. My family was at least lucky to get some closure on this disappearance.
My father spent the last few months of his life penning his autobiography, which was dedicated to his mother- Ayee, Ajjee to us grandkids. His complete admiration of her and dedication to her he attributed to her resilience and tolerance of a rapidly changing world around her, despite the extreme trauma that life meted out to her.
Not everyone comes out a winner, as she has. She continues to inspire us all today. Even so, I wouldn’t wish on anyone the trauma of someone who has to spend many years away from loved ones. Or of the loved ones, who spend years pining for the one who has left and not yet returned.