Of losses; big & small

Experiencing loss, one memory at a time.

I was in school when I first felt loss. I couldn’t find my favorite pencil that had a scented eraser at the back. Before leaving the classroom, I had kept it on my desk. After lunch break was over, I went back to my desk only to find it empty. I was hysterical. I cried, and cried. I asked my friends, who shrugged and then started a search for the missing pencil. We looked everywhere; under the desk, inside the dustbin, I also raided everyone’s pencil box. It had disappeared. This wasn’t the first time I had lost something in class, and this wasn’t the first time I struggled dealing with the loss of something I cherished. As a child, getting attached to inanimate objects was easy. Loss, as a concept, seemed confusing to me, and somehow I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. My teacher complained to my brother one day, annoyed at how sensitive I was. She said, ‘Your sister starts crying every time she loses something,’. I was baffled at my teachers’ lack of understanding. Crying was the only way I could explain what it felt. How else was I to make her believe how much it meant to me? For a seven-year old, it seemed too real, too personal. Sure, it was something I could replace but it was loss nonetheless. As I grew up, the losses took the shape of a lost tooth, of a lost book, of a lost friend, of a lost dream. One day, it was a pet rabbit that didn’t survive, on another occasion, it was a plant I had forgot to water. Each time I lost something, it hurt less but I felt like I had changed. The losses represented something I no longer had, but whose absence felt ephemeral. The losses didn’t stop. They only kept changing shape, presenting itself in unique ways, intensifying in magnitude. The response to these losses also changed.  Grief, somehow, found an outlet. It channeled its way every time I mourned the death of a fictional character, every time I would hear about a child learning to hear for the first time, every time I would cry during movies & every time a person I looked upto passed away. It would mold itself like water; fitting, squeezing, expanding & contracting wherever there was enough space. It ebbed & it flowed. But it kept coming. 

Nobody grows up learning how to mourn. No one teaches you how to weep. Grief is universal. It can be found in every household, in every corner. The death of a loved one, the death of your old self, the collective loss of our identities. Loss makes you confront your worst fears, it brings out everything you hate in front of you, and asks that you dine with it. Your worst fears, your worst self, is suddenly out in the open, staring at you, almost smiling. But somehow, you deal with it. You look grief in the eye, and shake hands. You discuss what must be done. You’ve felt loss before & you’ll feel loss again. You’ll grieve over the things you could have done, the dreams you can no longer dream, the loved ones you can never bring back. But then one day, you feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and you learn to walk freely, you learn to dream big dreams. 

Loss is inescapable—it’s a fair-weather friend that keeps coming in and out of our lives. We just learn to accept it. 

Author: Shumaila Taher

I am Shumaila Taher, editor and writer. I exist in between the pages of a book.

6 thoughts on “Of losses; big & small”

  1. i actually could relate to this just so much. i remember crying so much back in school, when this guy hid my pouch. i also would cry a lot when i was asked to change seats after sitting w someone i got rather close to. and it was after reading you today, i realized that I was crying because i was rather sensitive. thankyou for this, really.

      1. indeed. but so is love. let’s hope the next time i stumble be you, the only feeling that i feel, will be of love. wishing you the best, beautiful.

  2. Wow! This is such a lovely write-up on loss. While I had never lost anything in school, The first one hit me rather hard. It was a really small eraser. And while much of my childhood is a hazy memory, I remember this instance vividly. How I cried after seeing my Mum at the end of the school, and how she smiled and said it was nothing really. I was seven then.

    It was really insensitive for your teacher to have said that. Then again, not much has really changed now in that respect. Except a few of us, who have changed or trying to vhange themselves in order to see the world from a different and more sensitive, understanding perspective.

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