This assignment was to create a head prosthetic based off of a memory. My prosthetic is made from wire and black net to show the burden and dread after learning about and experiencing my grandfather’s death.
In May of my senior year of high school, I spent a weekend with my brother in Rhode Island. We had a great night; I met all of his friends and got to see his apartment. I woke up the next morning to my phone ringing; it was my mom. I picked up with my gruff voice, “Morning.”
“I have some bad news,” she said. “Dada passed away this morning.” The line went silent. I went over to where my brother was sleeping and told him what I had just learned. Within a few hours, we were on our way down to New York to make our flight to India for the funeral.
The average person feels anxious whenever they’re on a plane, whether it’s from their fear of planes or their excitement to reach their destination. My anxiousness came from having to brace myself to witness the funeral and cremation of my last grandparent; from seeing my parents in pain; from counting down the hours until I’m standing in my spot alongside the rest of my family in India.
As I stepped into my house, I could sense the feeling of despair and utter sorrow. My aunts and uncles came out of their rooms to greet us with tears in their eyes and their legs weak. I went to bed knowing that the next morning, I would be seeing my grandfather’s dead body.
I woke up the next day, took a shower, put on my white clothes, met family I didn’t see the night before, then finally walked into the room. He was lying down on the living room floor covered in white sheets up to his neck. I sat beside him as tears rolled down my face, thinking that I was never going to be able to hear his voice again or that I’m never gonna see his face again. I ran memories over and over again in my head knowing that I had to hold on to them because I wouldn’t be able to make any more. As I was crying I felt exposed and open in front of my entire extended family. It was a strange feeling because I’m usually not one to cry in front of others. I felt transparent and defenseless. I wasn’t sure if it was because everyone could see me or because this had happened and there was nothing I could do about it.
After spending a week in India, I learned so much about my family, my culture, and my religion. I felt like myself, but a better version. I felt that just the fact that I was in India made it an even more intense experience because I’ve been to Indian funerals in New York, but they’re not the same. You don’t have the extended family that you have in India, and being around all of them taught me so much about what it meant to be a functional part of the family and what it meant to give something back to family.
Coming back to reality was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I went around with this feeling that there was a sudden void in my life. I was in this deep depression that I couldn’t brush off. I started to feel the need to escape from reality and show people what they wanted to see rather than what I felt. I thought of ways I could stop feeling what I was feeling, but what I soon realised that the only thing that would help me was time and nothing else.
So I felt better and I no longer had to show people what they wanted to see. I showed them what I felt, which was acceptance of the fact that people pass for a reason and that their time on Earth is over only to because they’re needed elsewhere.