Valar Morghulis

Though I’m no stranger to deaths these days,
Though this year alone I’ve lost so many,
My mind goes into a darkened maze,
The moment I come to know of any
Demises of people I used to know,
Of people with whom I have spent some time,
Of the little ones who were yet to grow,
And the grown ones who were in their prime.

“Valar Morghulis,” I have often heard,
“Memento Mori,” as the Stoics said.
I often repeat Lord Krishna’s word:
“Don’t cherish the living, don’t mourn the dead.”
And yet the sight of a person hanging,
The quiet violence of a suicide,
Had the bells inside my temples clanging;
I stood there stricken and dewy-eyed.

What is the trigger that provoked me so?
Is it things I try to forget but can’t?
“Suicide runs in the family, you know,”
Frivolous words of a garrulous aunt?
Is it that pictured newspaper clipping
Of Grandpa hanging from a banyan tree?
Or Uncle’s letter, with creases ripping,
Penned while poppies set him free?

No matter! No more of my sanity
Can I spare for this tumult inside.
Despair, like hope, is a vanity
To indulge in either, a sin of pride.
No point in dwelling in this darkness deep,
No point in spending this moment in fright.
I am grateful for every night I sleep.
I am grateful for every day I write.

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