An Electronic Death

I finally did it. I deleted his email addresses — all three of them — from my address book in my computer. I will not write to him again, ever. I can’t. He is gone, he is dead. And now he is gone from my address book too.

He died more than a year ago, but I could not bring myself to delete his name and email address from my address book until yesterday. That would have been a second death for him — so I thought. And then yesterday, I just did it. After all this time of seeing his name every time I turned on my computer to use email, I finally deleted all three entries with his name and addresses. He was gone from my address book, just like he was gone from this world.

I had known him for four years, I went to his wedding in India. He married my little sister. He brought love to her life and happiness to our family. He was the proud father of a loving son. Then he was gone, leaving a big hole in my sister’s life, her son’s life, and in our lives.

Ever since he became a part of our family, email had been a trusting source carrying my thoughts and wishes across the seas to him and my sister. He would write such affectionate emails to me describing the pleasures and pain of early married life, the hectic pace of life and work in the up and coming computer industry in India, and the joy of fatherhood. Humor was a big part of his writing style. His emails not only carried the news but the joy and excitement a young person feels about his advancing career, his loving family, and life in general. His emails carried that great feeling of ‘life is wonderful’. He would often describe in vivid detail a recent movie he saw with my sister, the new restaurant they had been to, or the new sari he bought for my sister. After the birth of his son, most of his emails were about him — the joy this little boy brought to their lives, the smallest details that only a loving father can observe about his son, select words from the cute and often incomprehensible vocabulary infants have — all these details reached me when I missed playing with my young nephew in person.

And then there were those pictures that often accompanied the emails. Pictures of their honeymoon, vacation at a newly opened resort, pictures just because… Pictures of their son — a day old in the hospital, few weeks old at their house, his first birthday. While nothing can replace the happiness one gets by physically being around their loved ones, his emails made me feel close to him and my sister through this maze of the information superhighway.

No more emails from him now. No more emails to him now. No more of him now. It has been almost a year since I got back from India after my final goodbye to him. I left behind my sister, nephew, parents and rest of the family in pain, while I brought my pain across the seas. The pain has slowly started to go away, hope is taking its place, life will go on. Life has moved forward. But there will be no more of those emails that always brought a smile on my face. There will be no more of those funny details of his happy and rich life with my sister that he so frequently shared with me. There will be no more of the way he lovingly addressed me in his emails — Dear Didi… No more.

Until yesterday, there was a part in me that resisted deleting his name and email address from my address book. This part kept telling me that as long as I can see his name every day, may be one day I will receive an email from him. And may be one day, I will wake up and find out that all this was a terrible dream, that everything is just the way it was before, and that he is still around. But yesterday, a voice said to me — no more. I found myself opening my address book for no other reason but only to delete his name and address. I wanted to finally do it. He is gone, he will never write to me again, I will never write to him again.

Now my sister has taken the charge, she writes to me frequently. She tells me about her life, about her pain, about her hope, about her future. She writes to me about her son, and her dreams for her son. Dear Didi still carries the same meaning, may be even more, but there is one less person in this world I can be a big sister to.

He died twice for me — once in the real world, once in the electronic world.

First published on Sulekha 20 years ago

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