Irrfan Khan died today. It is supposed to be a neutral statement. Somehow, it doesn't feel right. But to say that he is no longer with us would be stupid. He is! His life's work is a testament to that. I'm not much of a movie buff, and honestly, I have hardly seen his movies (I have seen one or two). Mostly, I've seen him through music videos, cutscenes, and advertisements. He is - unlike others - different, in a very nice way. The song 'khoobsoorat hai two itna, saha nahi jata' might have been picturized on him and it would still be apt. 'On his face is a map of the world' is the feeling I got on seeing him. But something clicked today with the news of his demise. Actually, not the news, but a tribute video someone shared on twitter. And here I am, talking about mourning.

When somebody leaves us forever, we mourn for them. The period of mourning varies across cultures but is present in some form or the other. It is a powerful cathartic tool developed to protect the mental health of those left behind with the loss. I don't want to generalize but talk about something personal.

Aesthetic Blasphemy | Mourning candles
Image credits

One of my uncles suffered from a rare and aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis. He withered away in a matter of a few months. No doctor, no medicine, no alternate medicine, no prayer, no faith healer, no one could save him. My mother is still angry with the village Goddess she prayed to for him. His mother didn't cry much. She held an extremely stoical calm. Then, she lost her memory, had a few manic attacks, refused to or failed to recognize her other children, and after six months, went to wherever he had gone, just like that. In another six, his father also went looking for them.

In those periods of mourning, people came to mourn - family, extended family and the village, friends, and acquaintances. Some came because it mattered; for some, it is a custom. Some came with their sorrows - because shared sorrow is a sorrow halved. There would be people chatting and even sharing a joke. There would be people crying because they were reminded of someone dear that they had lost. It is a strange scene - the allure of macabre or the commiseration of a commune? It is a time when all expressions of sorrow are allowed. Men cry, women cry, children who have a clue of what has happened, cry. Some of you might have seen in the movies that the widow is silent, as if in shock or denial, and others are imploring her in their sobs to release the emotion, to cry. That happens. Sometimes, it takes great strength to be vulnerable like that; sometimes, it takes great strength to cry. Crying is important. Crying, even though leaves us with a terrible headache, lightens the heart. It would put you to sleep. Toughening up takes a mental toll. If one doesn't mourn sufficiently, it will come back as a haunt, or it might never leave. A friend of mine still hasn't really fully mourned for her mother, and she hasn't let go yet. Please, do.

There is a funny kind of release in this strange kind of sharing. Sorrows can't even be compared. Yet, it is effective. Chester Bennington coped with mental depression and finally took his own life. I lived my formative years of engineering playing his songs because they were my first brush with English music, and they were energetic, and always had this self-sustaining curve - down, absolute down, and up. It is like somebody has kneeled down beside you in a pit, sat with you, cried with you and then said, "hey! it is okay, let's get up now, together".

"I remember what they taught to me
Remember condescending talk of who I ought to be
Remember listening to all of that and this again
So I pretended up a person who was fitting in
And now you think this person really is me and I'm
(trying to bend the truth)"


"Memories consume like opening the wound
I'm picking me apart again
You all assume
I'm safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again
I don't want to be the one the battles always choose
'Cause inside I realize that I'm the one confused"

I didn't have much sadness or worries, it was just upbeat music for me back then, or maybe, a romanticism of sorrow and putting up a fight. A lot of people - youth mainly - found a tune that was cool at that time, but which also programmed us to relate to him on a whole different level as we grew. Some grew out of it. Some, like me, grew into the songs. Some unfold a new facet every now and then and I am like, 'Oh!'

I miss him sometimes. Sometimes, I miss him a lot. He never knew me. For a long time, I just knew the band name - Linkin Park. I don't really get into the details of most things. It is a stupid trait (I guess it is a guy trait [1][2]). I like what I like, and the rest doesn't really seem too urgent to be known off the bat even when I would very much want to know it inside out. His songs were of being lonely, of being misunderstood, of being isolated. His songs were a coping mechanism. When Chester went, the social media was awash with 'his songs were his suicide note'. But in that, he has kind of immortalized himself. And also, he has become a companion in the sorrow of any kind. His sorrow expressed as songs sometimes wraps around the listener and soothes. It is, to me, a demonstration of how sorrow actually lessens when shared. I'm letting a song share my sorrow! And I am sharing the sorrow from a song, from the music! It helps me feel, helps me touch the hurt and tells it that it is okay. Sometimes, I don't need a happy song. Yesterday, it was this song that had pulled me out of a delirious state that being roused from an evening nap sometimes brings along. Even today, those songs of Linkin Park are a safe harbor when I am under the weather and don't seem like bouncing back.

But, it is his last song which I'll give to anybody (Irrfan, you too)

"If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone's time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We're quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do"