If only I could view him merely for who he is devoid of my own baggage.
If only he could view me for what I am because of my baggage.
If only he could understand that when you keep yourself emotionally closeted for over 25 years, then even once the walls break down, it still takes years before you actually feel free. Like having a ghost limb.
If only we were not looking through such different looking glasses, his crystal clear with only black or white, mine murky in shades of grey.
But then when has life or love been that easy.
I love him for his simplicity. He is without any hidden agenda. But his simplicity makes it hard for him to accept my complexity. He doesn’t understand why I cannot think like a ‘we’. I want to. But I have been an ‘I’ for so long that I don’t know how to be a ‘we’. Talking it out before taking a decision is a couple thing to do. But when you have spent years having to have all discussions within the confines of your own head because its too risky to vocalize every thought, and then had to weigh every word before delivering it, and more importantly take every decision yourself because there was no one else to lean on – ‘discussing as a couple before deciding’ is almost counter-intuitive.
We have a lot to work on. And lucky for me, he’s willing to put in the work. We talk about it and work it out.
I must stay the course no matter how coarse the path.
I’ve learnt to pay attention to the details. When you are confined to a small room its always better to let the fox have a first go at the meal. Accrue some good will so that he wont snap as hard when he gets into one of his extrememoods. It has recently occurred to me that this perpetuation of state is my choice and not some imposition of poverty. I could have chosen to share the trees with the monkeys or lived in the pools with the fish. But living in proximity with those strong jaws and steely eyes makes me feel alive.
He finishes and walks away with a condescending snort. Still playing to a one-person gallery. There is a rib left for me. I start chewing. I must accept this concession as a gift except that this concession is no gift. He needs me just as much as I need him. There can be no predator without a prey.
For the umpteenth time and probably not for the last he asks me, “Momma, have the germies gone yet?”
I wonder how much longer I can keep up my story. The empty streets have started to fill up again. Shops have opened. I dismiss the yellow busses as buses exercising but it is hard to explain other children heading towards the park or walking their dogs.
Tuffy’s been a gem. He wants to go out but he won’t go without his best friend. The expectant eyes and wagging tail go together.
“No Mikey. They are still out there waiting to sneak up on us as soon as we let our guard down.” The eyes dim and the tail stops wagging.
Their trust is implicit and I feel like a miserable cheat. A weak miserable cheat who is hanging on desperately to some despicable virus to save her from having that dreaded conversation. He thinks that daddy can’t come home because the germies are out there.
How do I tell a five year old that his daddy won’t come home ever?
I am the beast that soars in the sky… wings so large that I block out the sun… eyes so sharp that I look into souls… talons so strong that I shred the hardened. I feed on the snake… the vicious venom that flows through souls. I scavenge the carrion… the conscience that is long dead.
I am the man who floats upon water… who cuts across the seas. I leave ripples in my wake that touch every shore. Everything here is mine for the taking. I create, I protect, I destroy.
The above are a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem Gitanjali that were seared into my mind when I was a young girl. I guess I was at my Another brick in the Wall phase. The poem was written in the early 1900s when India was still under British rule. Naturally it was viewed as a chant for freedom. But Tagore was not just a freedom fighter, he was an intellectual. His goal was not just the freedom of the body, but freedom of the mind – freedom of the conscience and of expression. Most people miss that point.
Yesterday I was listening to a talk by one of the political satirists who I follow. While explaining what attracted him towards satire, he read a few articles written during the 70s and 80s, critical of the administration of the day. Ironically, most of those words apply just as well today. There are those who would say that while we have become more socially conscious, when it comes to political dogma, we may have even gotten worse.
Over a century later, we are still nowhere near Tagore’s Heaven of Freedom.
Pure malice emanated from the scar that ran across his face rendering me gorgonized. Jagged rocks digging into my back told me that I was trapped in the tunnel. My death was imminent. I should be considered lucky if it was a quick one…
The National Journal had sought submissions from amateur photographers. The top three pictures would be featured on the front page of their annual digest edition. This was the opportunity that I had been waiting for.
It so happened that I had gotten wind of an abandoned vicinage overrun with wild shrubbery alleged to be home to some dilapidated erstwhile landmarks and possibly a ring of marauders. That there was almost complete and very intentional suspension of movement to that place had convinced me that I had found my perfect location. With the zeal of a crusader, I had put my pedal to the metal and set off on my quest.
Here I stood, several hours and lifetimes later, face to face with my executioner.
Perhaps the only picture that I was getting was my own in the obituaries!