Mission Delhi – Protiti Bhattacharyya, West Kidwai Nagar
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She is young and living through intense grief in this season of collective loss. Protiti Bhattacharyya, 22, a history student in the University of Hyderabad, kindly agrees to share a glimpse of her current life. Connecting on WhatsApp video from her house in Delhi’s West Kidwai Nagar, she is sitting on the chair that belonged to her father.
You lost your father and grandmother last month.
Baba had Covid and had been on the ventilator for a few days. The news of his death came in the way of a solemn phone call from the doctor, one of his colleagues from the same hospital he worked in. Ma has respiratory issues and so does my elder sister who lives in Noida, so I saw it as my responsibility to do the needful. I only cried once, when I had to recognise him at the morgue. Thampu (grandmother), who had the symptoms but had tested negative, died in her sleep a few days later at home, which meant that this was a very intimate death as compared to how baba left. I went to the same cremation ground that I’d gone to for my father. While the staff hadn’t been too cooperative the last time (maybe because I was alone and more importantly, an unaccompanied woman), they were extremely empathetic the second time. I felt like I was a regular, familiar in the most grotesque of settings.
How are you coping?
I have people who have constantly checked up on me, friends who’ve sent me jars of peanut butter and tacos. All I want is to bury my head in someone’s chest and sob. Ma is diagnosed with Covid as well, which has made all of this tougher.
How are your days?
I’m addicted to my morning walk accompanied by my colony dogs and the morning phone call with my boyfriend. Sticking to yoga has helped me breathe better. I made bhindi ki subzi yesterday. Getting back to (online) classes has helped with structuring days better and also to take my mind off things. My professors, classmates, friends and didi have been my pillars of strength. Heartbreak does not cut it any more, my heart is severed and shattered in so many pieces that I don’t think I’ll ever be whole again.
What are your hopes from the coming months?
I hope we are all able to lead more meaningful lives, and I never want to take life and my time with someone for granted ever again.
[This is the 403rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]