V.V.Ganeshananthan has written a moving article on dealing with grief on Granta magazine. As an Indian Tamil, who has helplessly watched an unbearable human tragedy unfold to his brethren in Srilanka, I am still struggling to come to terms with what my grief means and whether I am even eligible to grieve.
Ganeshananthan leaves us heavier with unmourned and unshared grief.
You may never have heard of these deaths before, and you may never hear of them again, but in the spring of 2009, tens of thousands of civilians who were ethnically Tamil, as I am ethnically Tamil, were killed in Sri Lanka, the country where my parents were born and I was not.
As I watched what was happening, it seemed to me unbelievable that I could stand knowing about such a large atrocity in such depth. It seemed unbelievable that I had not died from this – that this level of grief was perhaps only a first circle.
It is a way of humiliating people, to say that their dead are not dead, to say that people are not even allowed to mourn. There was little room for the legitimate expression of grief during the war, and after it was over, what little was there dwindled.
I do not want to be defined by disaster. I do not think this would help anyone, and it seems another way of letting disaster win. Still, it is important to me to keep the solidarity I feel not only for the living, but also for the dead, whose deaths were not necessary.
My grief will not destroy me. In some times and places, we are given the space to build our memorials. Perhaps in others, we must learn to become them, even as we go on.