My brother and grandfather experienced a very difficult time trying to help my uncle survive, with the emergency landing, mourning the loss of our family member, carrying the deceased body around, that too on a Sunday. They had no visa, no accommodation, no transportation, no contacts, and no extra money in this new country. If that was not enough, the officials in this corrupted country left no stone unturned to give them a hard time, demanding bribe to get the work done faster instead of empathizing. What my brother and grandfather thought would be a 4-hour flight back home from Hyderabad to Bangkok took them 4 days to reach.
It would have been my uncle's birthday few days back. If he were alive, he would have been excited for his birthday a week beforehand. But on the day of his birthday, he would be more excited for all of us to gather for dinner together, regardless of having a cake to cut. There was a child in him. The kind of child we all have within us who we suppress.
Since this day fell while I was visiting my family, I decided to honor my uncle by celebrating his birthday even though he is not alive today. So I announced that we'd prepare special food and invited other family members over for dinner, after which we lit candles beside his photo frame and I had everyone sitting in a circle and share memories about my uncle. Some stories that most of us did not even know about, some that made us laugh out so loud, some that refreshed our memories of him.
After 2 hours of that wonderful nostalgia, we sang 'happy birthday' in front of his photo while cutting the birthday cake I had baked earlier in the day. Because if he is watching us from above, or if his soul was around us because of the aura that we created, or if there is life after death, or if any of these things exist at all - instead of mourning over his death every year, I want to celebrate his birthday and want him to know how much we love him, miss him, and respect him.
Because these feelings are the only things that don't die when our loved one does.
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