Love, loss and beyond
Nothing quite prepares you for it
Dear Community Members,
I am writing to you because I am not sure what else to do. Normally the newsletter on Wednesday focuses on new ideas and mental models in business, technology and the world of work. Today is different. I want to reflect on love and loss.
Albert Camus's The Stranger begins with “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know.” My grandmother died on Monday and time has ceased to make sense since then. I had just woken up and was going through my mails when I received the ominous message. She was on the ventilator, the doctors had managed to revive her until they couldn’t.
After she fell and broke her leg last year, she had a number of surgeries. She fought through them and was on the path to recovery. She even danced at my wedding from her wheelchair. That image will be etched in my memory forever.
My grandma was the epicenter of all my pursuits. Her strong presence in my life etched this sense of adventure and possibility about the present and future. I wrote my entire book sitting next to her late at night for months. One day, in the middle of the pandemic, when the first copy of the book finally reached home, she was the first one to open the box and start reading it. My parents and I had gone out for some work. When I opened the door, she was laying on the bed, the book in her hand. Writing never felt so meaningful.
Success has never been about metrics to me. Subconsciously I always tried to make her smile. Life derived its meaning one evening after another. It was comfortable, even amidst struggles. With her departure, the words ‘comfort’ and ‘able’ feel divorced from each other.
I don’t think I will be able to move on but I hope to move forward, taking all the memories along with me. Grandma lost her husband (my late grandfather) before I was born. They had a cherished bond and a celebrated love story back in the day. She always told me that my birth gave her life new meaning.
I spent the first three years of my life with her. My parents had jobs in different cities back then. I spent my early years running around the garden, accompanying granny to the university and falling asleep to her songs and stories. I know a fair bit about epics, religions and philosophies, thanks to those nights.
There was a large community around - one that helped nurture me. I basked in its warmth and intimacy. In my own small way, what I do today is an attempt to curate a similar community for learners. A fond Network Capital memory of mine was organizing a summit to celebrate the work of her beloved late husband (my maternal grandfather). Thanks to all of you who joined us that day.
In the last few years, many of us have lost loved ones. War, pandemic, disillusion with established norms have made things even more tricky. We can’t outwork it, we can’t distract ourselves beyond a point, we can’t ignore it, we can’t suffer alone. All we can try and do is to rebuild ourselves - together.
Losing someone hurts but it also teaches us what we really value. I lived my life thinking she would always be around. I wasn’t wrong. She is still around, even more so, with her absence and all the memories we had with her as a family.
She was loved and celebrated by all. Her students and mentees all around the world will look at Feb 28, 2022 as the day as a new beginning. Perhaps they will go back to the values and ideals she inspired. Amidst the sadness, perhaps there is room to look at death as a journey back into time and a star far ahead.
I am filled with gratitude for all time she spent on this earth. Her name was Dr. Asha Kishore. Asha means hope in Hindi. My family and I will set up a foundation in her memory. Meanwhile if you lost someone special and want to talk, this subgroup is for you.
P.S. This was grandma preparing to dance. She liked to kickstart parties.