First, I called my husband. I gave him the news I had just received. Our home had been burgled. He was away in one place and I was away in another. Our children were with me. I called my father.
My laptop, my data…I realize that’s what I am afraid of losing the most from my home. I put a lid on the rising panic.
My next reaction is to cancel work. Postpone meetings. Call my editor and tell her I won’t be able to write this column for next weekend. Something stops me from doing that. Hold on to the writing. It will help you heal.
I pack our bags. Make a few more calls. Friends in our neighbourhood, friends who will deal with the police, a friend who will visit to make sure the children and I eat when we need to. He will make tea for the forensics team later and distract the children with stories. Keeping up the semblance that this violated home is still our home.
My mother arrives to meet me. She hugs me. My first tears well up. Being held by Mum is the first sign that I have permission to feel anything other than strong and calm. I am allowed to feel grief.
We drive back home with my father. Mum has handed me her iPad to take home with me. My brother helps me change my passwords.
My house has been burgled. I don’t suppose they could have taken the rose plant, I think to myself. And the photographs on the wall.
“Do you still never lose your earrings,” Radhika had asked a few days ago. We have travelled together for years, video journalists with our backpacks and camera equipment. We would leave behind traces of us everywhere. Books, spectacles and lens covers. Once, even a video tape. Apparently, I never lost the earrings that I would match to my mood every day.
Well, all my earrings may be gone. But I’m holding my daughter’s hand, as she sits beside me. She turns to me. She seems stunned. I realize I am looking at myself as I look at her.
We are crossing an expressway. Papa is driving our car.
“How is the car running,” I ask him.
“It’s good,” he says nodding. He approves. I am pleased.
2012 has been the year of letting go. I weaned our youngest child. I hadn’t realized how much that would depress me. I couldn’t get along with anyone. Later she started school. Mothers have a bodily reaction to separation. Just like lovers. You can keep talking to yourself to calm down, but your body speaks it own language. I was lost.
I haven’t lost anything, really. I come back to the moment. Our children are with me. Everyone I love is safe. I didn’t feel any fear because I was not at home when the thieves came.
I close my eyes. My history. My favourites. My open tabs. “Shut up,” I say to myself. No one can steal your Internet from you.
We reach home. Friends are already here. The police arrive. As I walk from room to room, I begin to take photos with my phone. Lists, FIR, phone calls, logistics. Send someone to get milk. The recovery of some things I had forgotten we still had.
The children stay outside to play in the garden. I call my husband to describe the scene to him. Drawers and cupboards are open, mattresses are askew, everything is heaped on the floor. He is relieved. We are safe. I want to be held and reassured. He makes jokes. I want to cry a little. I want him here. I can’t have him here. I’m going to snap at him.
I let go of this moment. We are in different places. We have different emotional responses to the fear and relief we are feeling simultaneously. Let go.
I spend the next two days in a daze. A friend tells me I am brave. I think bravery is our default response to crisis. I want some space to be weak. I can’t write unless I express that too.
I talk to friends who listen. In the middle of the night I send my husband a message. He may or may not be able to come back sooner, but I want him to know that I want him home. I’ll let go of whatever it is that comes in the way of reaching out to each other when we need it the most.