Kemon achish? How are you?


How are you? This is such a loaded question, isn’t it? How easily I answered this question before May 10th of 2021. Despite all anxiety, despite occasional sadness, sickness, anger, despair, I was well. I was doing fine. People I love the most, people who were my center, were alive. Covid 19 took that away. I have climbed up a steep hill of hopelessness and grief but when someone asks me “How are you?” I stumble. Do they really want to know? Do I really know?

A dear friend from Kolkata asked me today, “Tui kemon achish?” I gave her the rote response, “Bhalo achi.” (I am well). And that is the truth. I am well. I am just not as well as I used to be. How can I?

Mary Oliver’s poem Heavy has taught me to carry my grief well, reposition it, balance it, bear it. Yet there are times, so many times, the resilient muscle that I am trying to grow goes limp. I have to start strengthening it all over again. A friend who lost her dad to Covid told me about ‘resilient muscle’. We are both trying to make it stronger. But a certain memory, a certain slice of my past life, certain song, certain smell is enough to break down resiliency. I have accepted that though. I know this is my new state of being and I will try to remake this new me and despite all, I will be well. I am well.

But this is such a beautiful question one person can ask another. How are you? Tell me. I really want to know. I want to sit by you and hear how you truly are. I don’t want to give you advice, or sympathy or pity. I just want to be with you and listen, truly listen to how you are. Tell me. I care. I am here for you.

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