Atta Ikede

February 2, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 9:01 pm

My aunt is going to die soon. At this point, her being alive is .. a technicality.

She was so sweet. Probably the sweetest person I’ll ever know. Really good hearted and helpful and just ..a very soft personality.

I remember going shopping with my aunt and my mom. My mom always made all the decisions in these cases because my aunt couldn’t decide anything because she was always very happy with all the choices. My aunt telling me she liked Marie cookies for breakfast. I’ll always have a few vignettes like this in my heart.

I found out about what happened over email this morning, when I was at work. I was logging into gmail so I could send some mockups for a charity website to a friend. I saw a note from my brother and read it.

I called my mom and talked to her about 10 minutes. I got the facts and it kind of sunk in. I wasn’t going to see my aunt again. I couple tears fell out. It was weird, being in my cubicle, shedding a few tears over a family member on life support in a timezone 12 hours in the future. A cubicle offers a strange sort of privacy. There’s no door to close, no blinds to shut, but coworkers are so used to ignoring other coworkers that there’s like a pseudo door and pseudo blinds, both of which are almost always shut. Today I was thankful for that.

I wasn’t sure what to do after I hung up the phone with my mom. I sent the email to my friend with the wireframes I’d worked on.

After a while I messaged my friend and told her about it. It felt unreal typing it. “Something bad happened.” What? What? my friend asked. “My aunt is going to die.” I wonder how many conversations like that happen over IM. It must be a very shocking message to receive. It certainly is a very strange message to send. Death. How does the receiver know it isn’t just hyperbole?

After chatting with my friend a bit I went for a walk. I walked to the Embarcadero, a wide boulevard that goes next to the bay. I got a hot beverage and sat there on a cement step on the sidewalk for a while. It was really beautiful there. The water was a silvery blue today and the air was clear but a little hazy. I started remembering things about India. The twins who ran a photography store. The way taxi drivers had to tie our luggage, just normal suitcases, onto the luggage rack on top of the car because it was too big to fit into the trunk.

Later, I moved to a set of metal seats. I sat there for a while too. A guy offering free samples of cookies from a sandwich shop nearby came around. I took a sample. He said it was a free cookie but it turned out to only be 1 quarter of a cookie.

At several points today I had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to go to Bombay and see my aunt. Hold her hand. Have I ever held her hand before? I just wanted to see her. But at the same time, I knew I wasn’t going to go, and that it wouldn’t make sense for me to go. It’s practically inappropriate to go. Because who am I? Me showing up there .. I’d be a morbid tourist. Nothing else. Who would I hug, or comfort? Who would hug me? Would anybody think I even needed a hug? Even my parents aren’t going to go, and probably didn’t even consider going.

This phrase was in my head quite a bit today. Morbid tourist.

It kept popping into my head every time I had that urge to go to Bombay.

The truth is I’ve only been to India twice as an adult. I’ve only really met my aunt 3 times as an adult – the third being last summer when she and my uncle took a trip to the states for the first time in their lives. I met up with them in Illinois at my cousin’s place. The times I went to India as a kid, those trips were marred with problems between me and my parents, problems which unfortunately have a prime spot in my memories of India. When I was thinking about India today, there was a part of me wondering if I avoided visiting India as an adult because I was afraid that if my memories of India involved all these stupid negative family memories, my Indian relatives probably only remembered those things about me too. I’m sure there is some truth to that.

When my grandmother died last summer it was exactly the same chain of thoughts that went through my head then as they did today. That same feeling of wanting to go there but knowing it was not appropriate, and the same feeling that I was only sad because I was supposed to be sad, because it was a close family member, and in fact, I was sad because I did not have sufficient memories to be genuinely sad. That feeling was more pronounced when my grandmother died. I realized that day that I’d only really had one decent conversation with her. It was in 2000, when we stood together in the balcony of her apartment and she told me all kinds of things. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it was a good conversation.

I don’t really know what I think about all this. I was sad today and could feel myself moving slowly and heavily because I was upset. A few people asked me if I was ok. I said I was fine.

Then I suddenly realized I was humming like the Umbrella song while waiting for the bus. While I was humming, I wondered how that got into my head on a day like today. The bus ride got me a little depressed again. I was clutching my magazine in my hands, to the point that when I got up to get off at my stop, the magazine unpeeled from my hands like a sticker.

But after I got home and had dinner and tidied up a bit, and went over to get a hershey’s mini chocolate bar for dessert, I realized suddenly that I was feeling normal again. I was feeling exactly the same reaching for the chocolate today as I did yesterday.

I guess I’m feeling normal again now.



  1. Glad to see your post and hear you felt ok last night. :)

    Comment by picnic buddy — February 3, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  2. I’m sorry to hear what’s happening. These situations are always difficult.

    Comment by Julie — February 4, 2009 @ 7:01 am

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