That was the best thing about them.
We began to live together when we began to fight
We began to fight when we became unafraid of losing.
What were we afraid of losing?
I know I was afraid of losing him.
I was afraid I would be hurt
Now I treat words like falling leaves, not a sharp knife.
When I have no words to counter the barrage from him
I leave the room.
Sometimes I stay and make faces at him
I let him fight with me.
Because that is love
Love slicing through silence like curtains pulled suddenly.
Too much sunlight makes us wince
Sometimes the view distracts us.
Why are you fighting with me, he says
You know why I am fighting with you, I say.
We fight because the silence stifles us
We fight to find out if we are still friends.
I fold some fights in the pages of time
Letting them mature over years.
By the time I bring them out between us
Some of them have become stories to tell.
Sometimes we start fighting as soon as we meet
As if we must accelerate everything.
There isn’t time for everything
It was a really random question I asked my mother. We were finishing dinner, she and I. The children had already eaten, I could hear a music based reality show on the TV in the other room.
“She’s back home, didn’t I tell you,” my mother said with alarm in her voice.
“Oh, she had a terrible experience. The man she was married to was already in a relationship with someone else. He even had a child with that woman.”
“Yes. He used to go out alone for long walks after dinner to talk to her on the phone. He would lock his new bride in the house, telling her that it was not safe for her. She didn’t even have a cell phone.”
My mother’s friend is a smart, rich, modern Indian woman. She has no children of her own. Her niece lost her father when she was a child. She has been raised by her mother, her grandmother, her aunt and her uncle (her mother’s brother)
One child among 4 adults. One young, pretty, educated, Delhi-born and raised working woman to be married. An arranged marriage is arranged. And botched.
How did they manage to do this? How did they meet and check out a young man and his family and not get a whiff that they were going to be cheated so badly? I want to know.
My mother tells me more. The in-laws had lied about their property and income. They had been greedy about the dowry they expected. There had been rudeness. Now the girl’s uncle has hired a detective who brought the news of his lover and their child.
No, no, no. Don’t tell me this happens all the time in India. Tell me HOW? Tell me how you guys do it. How and why do you betray your own children like this? Answer me.
What do you do with your brains? What do you do with your love? I know you felt love for your daughter when you were raising her. What did you DO WITH THAT LOVE?
Did you bury it in a shallow grave and pat in down with your shoe? Put it in the back of a drawer and let it die in the darkness? Leave it whimpering in the dark till it lost its voice?
My mother tries to calm me down. I ask her, “Mamma, when they could see that the in-laws were being greedy, that the groom was acting rude, then why didn’t they probe deeper then?”
“It’s not easy to tell these things,” she says.
“They hired a detective now, right? Why didn’t they hire one earlier? Oh I know that’s not how these things work.”
“People can’t tell these things,” she says.
“How can they NOT KNOW? People show so many signs, why do we overlook what is OBVIOUS. Or suspicious.I can SEE IT.“
“You were like this even when you were a child,” my mother says.
I know I am screaming for me. I am screaming for all daughters. I am screaming to release the muffled voice inside me. Inside my mother.
I also wanted to live, Neeta screams at the end of Megha Dhaka Tara. “Dada, ami baachte chai.”
Rescue me, she says. Let me live. Give me permission to live. To love.
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.
Makes the most atrocious (embarrassing) PC. Unapologetically.
Is masseur par excellence.
Expert at cleaning the bathroom he uses…. he dries the floor with the wiper…. even if the effort makes him bathe with sweat.
Hates make-up. (But not made-up women)
Is excellent with our children…. even though he insists vehemently that he “Hates” children related chores. Brushing teeth, going park, attending school functions.
(‘Why should I travel by bus when I can afford a car? Get a maid, Natasha!’)
Has a special something with Nam Nam, although he dismisses it as my desire so strong that I imagine it.
Worships his Ammi.
I told him today that he is a conservative liberal.
Dreams up what Chris (our XXLsize English friend) used to call Beg Plans.
Dreams up these dreams and while others are silently praying that he may get over it, embarks on doing them…….. and pain or no pain, gain or no gain ends up doing them.
Some kind of a financial maverick. I cannot elaborate on that yet.
I’m beginning to realise that he has some strengths and talents of genius proportions (calibre)
I can’t quite put my finger on it yet…… but I am slowly getting a sense of it.
(partly from all the suffering he himself endures…. and partly from the suffering caused in me as a side effect of loving him and being true to him as intensely as I am)
Sounds a bit off, I know, but I am saying that even all this misery, pain, heartache and hidden diseases point to something big brewing inside. It wouldn’t hurt so much if he weren’t aiming so high and working so hard. And stretching himself all the way from Adilabad to God knows best where.
It may well be that in some way he is stuck. On his own, he is not being able to make a breakthrough. Or he isn’t ready for it, yet.
We’ll find out.
So what the hell are we two doing together? We don’t know yet, but we’re keeping at it. God guiding us.
He is so silly, he doesn’t even know yet that we have the same God. I mean Af is silly, not God, of course.
Is an artist. People artist. Self trained. Sometimes frustrated, but then this path is hard.
Meanwhile he continues to make atrocious PC.
And brush their teeth at night even as he can’t stand anymore with that pain in his legs. Then massage three pairs of little feet to put them to sleep.