When the eldest of my Mamas (maternal uncles) suddenly died in 2004, the extended family had an impromptu conference discussing a seemingly serious matter as to who all had cried, how much, with how wild frolics and who had NOT. I was not witness to it, but someone told me about it later. Apparently all the family members unanimously concluded that those who failed to shed tear or show antics at the obvious sad incident were less human, loved Mama less and needed overwhelmed condemnation. And those who did shed tears abundantly are better human, loved Mama more and should be praised wholeheartedly. Ironically, the widow had fallen in the first category.
Those were the time when Facebook had not become the universal vulgar, perverted platform of vindication and show off. Social gatherings like death, birth, religious ceremonies and the occasional visit to the house of friends and relatives were the arena where we tried to outperform each other. Your grief was my secret happiness even then. And boasting of achievements used to take shape of a new piece of jewelry or cloth that you wear to the occasion to show off, and small talks limited to topic like the marks your children had scored, the college that he/she secured a place in etc. Parent felt unhappy if their children were not as smart as those of others. Wives felt unhappy if their husbands were not making as much money as the husbands of others. But, on the face of it everybody showed perfect happiness at the achievement of others.
Shedding tears or crying is possibly the first emotional outburst that human being register after being born. As they grow, learn the ticks of life and acquire the so-called civilized norms of social behaviour; they learn to control this emotion. We teach our children how to control tears. Not because, we hate to see tears rolling down their cheek, but because we want them to be strong – at least emotionally. We were taught males do not cry; at least not in public. There are also people who are structurally incapable of showing this raw emotion in public. Yet, not being able to show your raw emotions becomes a yardstick for measuring your social status, your upbringing, and your character.
The widow had more practical issues, more pressing worries, and more immediate priorities – like how to raise the sixteen-year-old son alone. She possibly could not afford the luxury of giving vent to the raw emotions at that time. And who knows how much did she cry in private? Even if you cried out loud once the dust - created by the storm of sudden and untimely death of someone who had ever been the fulcrum of your life - have settled; does it make any difference?
Twelve years down the lane, the scene has not changed much. Only that the social gathering has been replaced by Facebook. So, you do not have to cry in public, just click a photo of you crying at your own leisurely time and post it. If someone had died in the family, just take a selfie at the crematorium and post it with a comment like – Me, at cremation of my uncle, feeling sad. Social etiquette of Facebook says you ought to comment on the photo of me with my wife in Singapore with line like – oh! sooo cute. Although, something inside you would continue smoldering in jealousy until you can you post a photo of your being in Las Vegas.
Your grief will always remain my secret happiness, my vindictiveness will always catch you peeking at the photos of my being able to savour better material comfort then you can muster. Just, do not hesitate to call up your friend and relatives to tell how much you cried. And of course, do not forget Facebook.