I didn’t die.
I broke many parts but I survived.
All of me didn’t live either.
I carried the dead weight with me for years.
That’s also why I cry.
At funerals where everyone else is dry-eyed.
When the bride begins to walk away.
In school, when children get on stage,
Crying brings me back from my dead.
For people who were gone before I was born.
I cry for children silenced by abuse.
I close my eyes not knowing where the tears come from.
I cry because no one else did.
Parents who hate and try to pass it off as love.
Learning to be indifferent because feeling hurts too much.
We must move on.
We must get up and dust our hands.
I cry because it is an ocean inside.
I didn’t know it.
It surprises me.
Tears come in waves.
I struggle to remember the faces for whom I cry.
I cry because he never did.
I cry because he learned to laugh when he wanted to cry.
I cry because I want to stop him but I cannot.
I cry because it bothers him.
It jolts him.
It might make him cry one day.
We had just left from Dr. Dhama’s clinic in Kotla and were on our way to a CNG station near Nehru stadium.
At the first red light, we saw pigeons. Pigeons, oblivious to the harsh afternoon sun, perched on wires and bars in front of us. I took a photo through the dashboard.
Get your yellow teeth whitened, I said to Afzal after taking his photo. Then shuttuped myself. What kind of person am I becoming, I thought to myself.
Naseem was screeching in my ear. Take my photo, take my photo. Of course. The purpose of my life is to take Naseem’s photos. So I did.
Next, I took a photo of Sahar. She is 9.
One Saturday afternoon, in the summer of 2009, I said to Fr. Os, Aliza is so fragile. The smallest things make her breakdown into extreme reactions. (Like me suggesting a different sandal or offering a pink bottle instead of the leaking red one she wants)
Fr. Os interrupted me sharply and said, Aliza is NOT fragile, its YOUR Child Ego state which is fragile.
I understand that a little bit, but not totally.
It does help me turn the focus back to myself, though. If Ali seems to be in trouble, look into your own state of mind first.
The other question I want to go to Fr. Os with is this: Why is Sahar so angry? Not all the time, in fact when the stress levels are high, she puts up a great Adult performance, sometimes Parent too. But when everything seems to be normal, sometimes without reason, she seems to wake up crabby and return from school angry. And she lets me know by pushing Aliza around, so that Aliza will ring the alarm bells…Sahar is pushing me, she took away my crayon, she called me crazy…..something like that.
So I suppose the question is likely to turn around to me: Why do I think Sahar may be angry or dissatisfied?
Or, what am I angry about?
I think part of the answer may be that Sahar holds up so well under stress and looks out for me and Afzal so much (being the one gifted with extreme empathy) that we tend to take her for granted too much. We forget to appreciate her and cuddle her and thank her in time….which leads to a neglected Child in her who then becomes resentful-deprived Child.
The first year of her life, when I was a somewhat timid, tense new Bahu, holding on to my baby for comfort. The second year of her life, when I was expecting Aliza and frustrated at work. The third year of her life when Ali was born, Afzal had a bad accident, we moved to Greater Noida and I lost myself somewhere.
Baby Sahar, I OWE you.
This visit home I understood something a little better.
How she coped with everything putting her best efforts into it, because she tried to give Dad everything like he wants it, she tried to keep things peaceful for us, and she insisted on surviving.
I think her childhood script is: Make the best of it girl, Survive.
Strange that her daughter should have come so close to Giving Up.
She doesn’t cry, she doesn’t protest or complain…she almost never has throughout her life. I wish she would break a little sometimes, we’d hold you, Mama. We’d hold you.
She almost never smiles for photographs anymore…. I took some recently, almost always with a new grandkid in her lap. I ask her to smile. A very feeble movement of the lips that stops too soon. She never looks like that in real life.
Or at least I don’t see that expression.
Dad was showing me some figures on an excel sheet, stating some financial facts, asking me some questions. Savings. What I have, what I don’t.
Tears welled up and started rolling down my eyes. Quietly.
Papa continued to say and show what he had to.
Mum tried to stop the proceedings. What happened? What happened to you? Why are you crying? She expressed as much agitation as sweetly and safely as she could.
“Nothing, Mama, nothing.”
Later she followed me into another room. Explaining.
“Listen, its just the way he talks. You know how loving he really is. What can I do, I’ve coped with it all my life.
You tell me if there is another way.”
“He gives me everything he earns. Then he speaks harshly about what I do with it. But he’ll still hand over everything.
And this big Diwali gift that we’re giving to all three of you this year. Its his own idea. He got it from the bank himself.
Then he’ll say I don’t know what you do with all my money.”
“If I started taking all this to heart, Neeru, where would we all be.”