(I wrote this blog post 2 days ago, but I just couldn't find myself to complete it, I cried every time I tried writing, especially while looking for photos to put on this post, so please understand)
The worst part about staying away from home is when your loved ones pass away in Mizoram. Today I lost my childhood friend and loving brother Matea.
And what makes my grief even more agonizing this time is the fact that I had just left Mizoram and came back to Pune this morning. I spent so many moments with Matea just a few days ago, and he was totally fine. There were no hints of suspicion that something very bad was going to happen. On the night of my departure, Matea was even cracking jokes at our WhatsApp group, asking for a group picnic since I was leaving.
Yesterday, on my way to the airport, I received the sad news that Matea's father-in-law had passed away. He had been battling cancer for a long time, and if I wasn't already halfway to the airport, I would have paid my respect to Parteii before leaving.
I reached Pune at 1 AM this morning and went straight home. I didn't even unpack, I hit snoozeville right away. Woke up at 8 AM and rejoined work grudgingly. At around 12 noon, just as I was about to order lunch, I received the shocking news in our WhatsApp group that Matea who was admitted to Durtlang Synod hospital earlier, had become worse! And then just an hour later, around 1 PM, H announced in our group that he was no more! Just like that. I couldn't breathe, everything happened so fast.
And then other members of our group said that the doctors were able to find a pulse, that he wasn't gone yet. I kept hanging on to the last thread of hope, staring at our WhatsApp group the entire day. Everything else around me was spinning and hazy. My colleagues in office understood and nobody disturbed me.
After much tension and many prayers, my friends finally reported in our group at 4:20 PM that Matea was no longer with us, cause of death: Internal Bleeding.
Time just stood still for me. I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. A part of me was cursing Matea, why the f**k did you leave us! Another selfish part of me was bemoaning, why did you have to go just when I left Mizoram? Not that I wished it happened while I was there, but I wanted so badly to be there with him and my friends right then.
Just a few days ago, we were hanging out and having so much fun. Our group of friends would always hangout at his house after Church or waited for each other there before going together to our "ruaitheh", our big locality feast. This time was no different either. It felt just like yesterday when he pointed at all the thin white cigarette buds in front of his house and accused me of dirtying his compound and I would protest saying they were mine but I wasn't the one who threw them there as many of our friends tried out my new Esse cigarettes. :)
During this year's "Kumthar ruaitheh" we stood in line together, waiting for our turn to eat…
Muansanga, Hriatpuia and I made fun of his shirt which was hanging out below his jacket from behind…
That day, Matea and I sat together in our community hall and we had a hearty meal. We "gossiped" about the old lady next to us who had impolitely kept her "sachek and antam tui" cups on the bench meant for people to sit, hence making us squeeze together tightly. Neither of us were brazen enough to ask her to kindly place them on the floor, and so we just laughed silently as we sat down uncomfortably, lolz.
Little did I know that that was going to be the last time Matea and I would ever sit together for a meal again :(
Looking at some of the photos we took together this vacation filled my eyes with tears.
Some of you may have seen the Facebook group photo I uploaded, where I mentioned that I asked my friends to send me our group pic and they sent me the one where I looked the worst, lolz. Yeah, it was Matea who sent me that image.
Lazy ass didn't even bother putting in a proper subject line :) His younger cousins and their friends were playing FIFA on the PC that day, and they had to pause their game so he could send me this image. And they were taking his trip the whole time as he kinda forgot how to login to his gmail. Oh such joyful memories, we laughed so much.
Happier times indeed, still can't believe all these pics were just a few days ago.
It's devastating to see how the arms of fortune can turn so suddenly, that too within such a short gap.
I feel extremely sorry for Nu Rozami who has now lost all her sons. Maremtea, Mapuia, and now Matea. I even wrote a tribute to Mapuia when he passed away three years ago. To bring up three boys on your own as a widow and now having to burying all three must be extremely excruciating! :( I promise to keep visiting their house whenever I go home even with my three brothers now gone, just like old times. Nu Rozami is one of the strongest women I've known and I pray that she can pull through this.
My utmost condolences to Parteii as well, who lost both her father and husband in two successive days. This must be the highest degree of pain and torture one can experience. Little Amanda will now grow up without a father, but I promise she will not grow up not knowing him. We will fill her with all the wonderful tales and stories of her father and the crazy things we all used to do together as she grows up.
There's so much to write about Matea, but the more I think about it, the more it hurts. He's not just my childhood friend and neighbor, ever since the start of my education at Neuhof school, he, me and another guy called Rosang something, I don't remember his name now, the three of us would always compete to get the first rank in class, and it would always be one of us bagging that coveted title every term. Even though I moved out of Mizoram from class 4 onward, we continued to keep in touch, and played basketball together whenever I went home for my vacations.
I was a part of the Vikings basketball team and even though we never won any tournaments together, playing with my friends was definitely worth it.
Likewise, we crossed paths so many times outside Mizoram in the coming years, like the times I stayed at his house in Cal during my IIM summer internship at British Petroleum (and ended up missing my flight to Mumbai where I was supposed to present my 2 months research report to the bigwigs of BP. Matea who was working at Hyatt back then, was supposed to wake me up as he came back from his night shift, but he forgot, lolz). Or those memorable 2 years in Delhi we spent together, back when Maremtea was still alive. I have so many photos of those days, but for now, I don't think I have any strength left to put up any more pictures of him. Maybe I'll save that post for another day.
For now, I'll end this post with some of the funeral images my friends shared at our group. It pains me so much that I am unable to be there with the rest of my friends. Since I've been writing this blog post for 2 days now, the images below were taken on 8th and 9th.
Our RYDERS group of friends. Apart from his family, Matea's demise affected us the most :'( Every year, our number grows lesser and lesser...
My blog friend Muantea messaged me last night to tell me the attendance of people from our locality (YMA) who turned up at Matea's house…
Zanin Ni 9 January 2018 Khawhar In kal dan (Malsawmtluanga) Y-I Section Zan khatna:
Y-I: OB - 4, Member - 86, Total - 90
Y-II: OB - 4, Member - 54, Total - 58
M-I: OB - 5, Member - 61, Total - 66
M-II: OB - 4, Member - 33, Total - 37
A-I: OB - 5, Member - 52, Total - 57
A-II: OB - 5, Member - 19, Total - 24
Br.OB - 5
TOTAL - 337
Very impressive numbers indeed. Matea was loved by all within our locality. Such a huge tragedy and loss for those of us who knew him well.
Rest in peace, my brother. You will never be forgotten. We'll ryde again soon on the Otherside.