The whole structure of life seems like a fractal, complex and never ending. The more we think about it, the more we realize how fragile and helpless we are. Often we find that this thought takes a deep root inside us, everything seems to be meaningless and this thought crumples all the beautiful little nuances that life offers us. I would like to stress on ‘little’ here because often in retrospection we think of life as a whole, as an accumulation and forget about the little details that make the frame complete and rather in reality it’s always the little details that make the difference.
Yes, this thought is poignant and overpowering and it renders everything around us as useless but it is not as powerful as you might think, it all fades away in the face of death.
So if life constantly reminds us how fragile we are or how impermanent we are, it is the thought of death that I find more liberating, actually it is the aftermath of death that I find more liberating. Depressed and hollowed by these thoughts, I randomly stumbled over my dad’s belongings, who passed away nearly 12 years back and I realized that the dead are always alive in what they leave behind. And here I don’t just talk about physical objects rather also the notions that are associated inside us in relation to the dead, inside us as memories and notions.
Slowly the stagnation inside me regarding life started fading away and I felt rather ecstatic wondering about the things that we will leave behind. Before I start exploring the residue of my father’s life I would like to talk about death for a while. I guess no one can deny that it is the recent aftermath of death which is the most piercing one, it is dangerously silent, it is infinitely deep and the worst bit, time moves excruciatingly slow here. Everything you interact with, you will relate it to the loss. The bigger the vacancy the person has lift inside you the higher will be your pareidolia with respect to that person. You will realize what a ‘second’ means and at that moment you will hate time for its existence you will loath it with all your heart but of course after the worst is over you will learn to respect it. For sure, death emotionally manifests a black hole inside a person. However just like everything else, time fades death too. It forms a bubble over those memories and you are gifted with a new pair of eyes, a pair of eyes which will make new memories and let go of the old. At this point of moving over death we can quantify it and understand it.
Although the dead are alive in our memories, yet as time passes by the memories peel off from the walls of our conscience and we realize this phenomenon somehow and it scares us, we are scared that we will lose out on the notions that we had about the dead, this fear seems to us like a whirlwind that will carry all the memories away. So we hold on to everything that was related to the dead, their photographs, whatever they made or even touched everything we try to hold on to. And this is why I think the dead are never dead as they are always alive among us, inside the little vacancy they created, inside the little empty space they created.
Our lives keep on moving long after we are gone. Our memories continually live inside others, even after we die, through them we interact with the world. In their actions and their thought, the dead are still alive.
I know this thought will still just be a consolation in the face of death but it is rather a strong notion to live by and to let go.
So next time whenever you think how useless life is, think about all that you will leave behind, all things you will be remembered for and you will surely find all the stagnation seep out of you.
Like I stated earlier, I lost my dad 12 years back, I must have been ten or eleven years old. To be honest, at that time I couldn’t comprehend the gravity of the loss and now after years have gone by I have an idea about loss and the way it affects you. Now that I am 22 I understand the vacancy more than ever, I still find him alive in the half remembered memories from my childhood, in his briefcase, his watch and slowly as times goes by I can see a much more clearer notion of my dad in me.
In search for texture and memories, I found a little bit more about my dad.
This is all that he has left behind and the rest can’t be captured into a photograph.
So yes, he is still alive in these things. In his briefcase, in all his works, in memories and most importantly in me. These are the things he left behind.
Just like textures, he is now a layer of memories, drifting within the physical and intangible.
The title “All that you leave behind” is inspired from U2’s Walk on.
Pictures clicked by Aadit Basu