Christmas, Interrupted

Every Christmas, I go to church with my mother. It means much to her and doesn’t take much except a couple of hours of my time. I listen to the sermon for a hook, something to ruminate on. It’s a habit now, this soaking in of words and letting the message surface whether in a book or when listening to someone.

This year, the priest was talking about Christmas being a celebration of interruptions. And I found my hook. While the season is one of celebrating family and loved ones, the first Christmas disrupted the trajectory of many lives. Mary was told she would be the mother of God, Joseph was asked to accept her and the unborn son. Many mothers lost their children to the purging of a fearful king Herod. Shepherds and the wise Magi were filled with joy. Jesus himself was born in a manger, a displaced birth from the norm. Tidal waves that forced a turn in all those lives.

A crib in my mom’s neighbourhood

Interruptions have a negative tint in their etymology as it implies a break. Mostly they tend to be a rude jolt to one’s plans and become a focal point of displeasure. Aversion. Sometimes there are pleasant ones but those usually get labelled more benevolently as ‘surprise’.

2018 was one of interruptions at many levels and in many ways. It seemed like a big mess for a large part of the year. On the outside, there have been some drastic changes but the insides saw a tectonic shift. And like all those movements of the planet, it takes a while for a new normal. The continents went through their upheavals before they rearranged themselves as we know it today and the change still rumbles unseen.

My lowest point came the day after Geetaji’s passing away. It saw me crumpled and crumbled watching a repeat of all that I finally broke away from. Perhaps, that was a necessary catharsis, that piteous, animal howling of sorrow for another’s pain through which I could find expression. Eventually, that moment passed and endurance kicked in. One which allowed the pain to coexist even as the body worked and memory woke up.

I remember Geetaji everyday, fragments of her instructions through her books and talks serve as an encouragement. Yet, I grieve, a strange grief. Perhaps, this mourning is an acceptable one for another grief that cannot be acknowledged. It was a Christmas, interrupted.

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