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Sometimes!!! No actually every time, I feel so alienated in my own house. My world melts into a sorrowful gloom every time I think of my family, just the way everyone has turned out to be. I shudder the way my family turns a cold shoulder on me, to them it’s like I am a nobody. So, I come here every day, to the world of the buried.
Its ironical though, but this world of the dead is filled with more life and lives than the world of the living. The wild plants grow and the flowers bloom the way they feel like growing and blooming -unrestricted! It’s as if the blooming and cheerful flowers are the periscope for the buried to peep into this world from their haven. The stray cats and dogs wander in this world with a sense of pride and ownership. Large trees act like the big giant angels providing the needed shade to the tombs and shelter to birds and squirrels. There is so much of harmony and order to this wilderness. Everything, living and dead, in this place seemed content. Not one soul seems to carry the burden of having to belong and hence fit-in into a skin. There is a sense of freedom, freedom from the burden to fit in. When I come in here every day, as I enter the big magnificent iron gate, it’s as if I am shedding off the stifled and cramped skin of the other world and this world gives me the carte blanche I yearn for.
It’s really funny when I think of those days, when I held on to my dad’s hands in fear as we crossed this gate. Those days when we used to be one happy family. Alas!
Its seems so far away in the distant past and makes me wonder if those days existed in real or was it always a piece of fiction in my imagination. I do remember vividly the laughter of my mother, the embrace of my father, the games we played. Even as I run them through my memories, my eyes twinkle and my lip curls into a smile.
Ah! A large tear drop is bringing me back to reality clouding my eyes as those wonderful scenes of memory float away as a mirage. I do want those days back and when I go home every time, I do try. May be not. Sometimes it’s better I leave it as it is instead of trying hard to get back.
One small accident. One small accident is what it takes to change my life, just one small childish mistake, nothing lost but still everything is gone.
It was just the day after my baby sister Eva was born. I was at Granny’s when dad took mom to the hospital. My dad was to come to Granny’s and take me to see Eva at the hospital and we were to take Eva back home. I was more than excited.
I asked Granny for the millionth time if Eva would know me? Would she know that it’s been me who has been singing lullaby to her every night for the past 9 months? Would she know that it was me who used to give my mom the milk and medicines so that Eva came out a strong baby? Would Eva remember that it was me who kissed her good morning every day? I have also felt her baby feet on my mother’s stomach. Would she know? Would she remember? I really can’t wait, I wore my new white frock with red floral print, mom had an identical one stitched for Eva.
My dad came in just after breakfast, and I was so glad he didn’t want to have a cup of coffee at Granny’s. The drive to the hospital seemed so long and walk along the hospital corridor much longer. I stride with pride, not everyone gets to become an elder sister and I somehow knew that Eva would be the best baby in all the world.
My mom was anxiously waiting for me, she had dressed Eva with the same white frock, she also had put a small bow on Eva’s head, the bow I had made with stain ribbons. Eva was really tiny, seems like she didn’t drink the milk I gave her every night after all.
“Mmm…one naughty kid, and I had to keep a watch on her”.
Mom also told me that Eva didn’t speak yet and would be taught to speak. All that lullaby and talking, she remembered none.
“Seems like one lazy bum, one spank in the back will set her alright” I thought.
Mom lifted Eva, so very gingerly. Eva made a funny face at Mom. I smiled.
Mom looked at me, “Come her Mia, do you want to hold your little sister”. I was really eager to hold her. I took the baby bundle in my arms. She was also very light as I held her, he skin was as that of a fairy. I ran my fingers across her face, dainty that she was, he skin felt like a feather. It felt like a touch and not, at the same time. It was amusing.
It was at that time, to the shock of the world, my sister Eva, started to scream and cry. I could feel my heart thumping, the blood boiling, my face getting to the colour of the brightest red rose, a lump developed in my throat, tears swelled in my eyes and started flowing my embarrassment out. My mom almost snatched Eva from me and tried to console her. My dad, held my hand and virtually dragged me out and put me on his lap and held me. He said “Eva didn’t cry because of you, she cried because she was hungry, she loves you better than anyone”. While he tried a lot to console me, my tears would just no stop flowing.
With a sinking feeling in my heart I helped my mother pack all the stuff. Mom looked very sick and tired after baby Eva was born. I was a little concerned but its better sometimes not to talk everything. Eva had gone to sleep and we wrapped Eva into a tiny bundle and we walked down the hospital corridor to the basement car park and got into the car.
I was a little confused. I just wanted this sinking feeling to go away.
My mom hugged me and said, “You are such a wonderful sister”
I looked into her eyes, I could feel the tiredness in that, her eyes had sunken into a deep hollow.
My dad always knew the right way to lighten things up, he played my favourite music and pulled out a huge bag of goodies. It had a tag, ‘Congratulations, to the best Big Sister in the world”. I could feel my pride slowly sneaking back in.
He gave me a peck on my cheek and said “We want you to have an eye on your little sister every day, every hour, every minute and every second, she is tiny and she would need her elder sister so she grows into a wonderful girl just like you”. A wee bit of joy came along like the silver lining in the black cloud and the music kind of made the sunshine. I was starting to feel light.
The sunshine outside peeped through our window and it was like the sun was vaporising all my fears and filling me with the radiance of love. My sister Eva is coming home. Before I knew it the love transformed into words and I started screaming aloud
“Eva’s coming ho..oome; Eva’s coming hoo ome”.
I could see my dad and mom lighten up, they looked at each other and to better things up we were all laughing. The spirit of the laughter was too much for my body, I started to jump.
Jumping with joy…in the car…shouting “Eva’s coming hooome”.
I could hear my mother screaming “Mia sit down, you can’t jump, sit down now”. Just that instance I went tumbling over and fell on my dad and he lost control of the car... the car wheeled and crash. Before I could realise anything, it was all over. One jump of joy!!!
When I opened my eyes, it was all very dark. Real dark, my head was throbbing. I could hear my mother sobbing in the next room and my father whispering.
I remembered the accident, I got scared, what happened to Eva. Did Eva die? My heart pounding and lip filled with prayers, I walked to the nursery, saw Eva sleeping there so calm so quiet, oblivious of everything that had happened. She looked a lot bigger, better and cuter. I whispered unto her, “Eva I am there for you every day, every hour, every minute, every second”. I rocked her cradle slowly and started singing the lullaby mild and softly. I could see Eva turn to my side and render the sweetest smile ever, my heart melted.
What happened to Mom and Dad? My legs were becoming weak. I tiptoed near their bedroom.
Mom sat there staring at nothingness. I could sense the void radiate from her. Her head was still bandaged, her eyes sunken into the deep holes. Her hair dishevelled. She kept murmuring something. I went closer so I could make sense of her murmurs
“Mia, why are you so excited. Mia stop it.” She kept chanting again and again. In between she gave out a hysterical shriek. It was as if her internal clock had got stuck in the moment of the accident.
I whispered slowly “Mommy…..” my voice was eclipsed by her murmurs. She continued to stare into the nothingness. For a second, I could see her fleeting glance meet my eyes. She seemed to recognise me, and then her glance drifted away. While I was there right in front of her, to mom nothing ever seemed to exist. I saw dad walking to mom’s room, his head hung low and shoulders drooped weighed down by the burden of mom’s sickness. I looked helplessly at Dad. My dad stopped, I wasn’t sure if he was seeing right into me or just beyond me.
I disappeared into my room. I just realised this was the right thing to do at the moment. I heard Dad’s footsteps coming towards my room. I lay still, closed my eyes and pretended to sleep.
Dad came into my room, knelt beside my bed and I could feel his tears as he spoke softly “Mia, why did you do this? Mia why did you get so excited? You have ruined everything for us. How can I get your mom out of this?” I could feel his shoulders shake. My heart grew heavy. I opened my mouth to say something. Nothing seem to come out of my mouth. I just continued the pretention of sleep. I just wished I could just erase this and get my life, our life, back to normal.
Dad was beside my bed for long and then he got up and left the room. I think I had also drifted into a sleep, and When I woke up, I was back into this craziness. Could hear my mom’s murmur and hysterical cry.
I got off my bed and walked out of my room, and out of my house. Tears filled my eyes, and drops rolled down my cheeks. I could see it evaporate into nothingness as it touched the ground. I remembered, the accident was real bad, Mom had head injuries and that accident had made mom sick very sick. I knew that on seeing me, mom would become hysterical, I decided to stay out of her, out of the visibility of my family.
I didn’t matter anymore, how can I reason out to mom that I jumped in joy and I did not have any intention of hurting anyone, how can I tell people that while there was an accident, now that nothing has gone wrong we can all get back to our lives.
That accident, seems to have pierced my parent’s hearts and yanked out any bit of love they had for me ever. I was in my room for most parts of the day, just by myself. When I opened the door, I could hear mom’s hysteric cries. It frightened me. It seems to continue from dawn to dusk. The only thing that seem to calm her is the sleep that creeped in secretly and occupied her unknowingly. The graveyard at this scenario seemed to offer more solace than the house that was oozing out craziness end to end.
So, that’s when I strolled with a heavy heart into this large iron gate, just to find a place to be invisible. I knew that people are in general scared of wandering around here, so the chances of me bouncing on to someone was practically negligible. This graveyard has become the place I spend most part of my days in. I have even slept here one night, and somehow no one seemed to know and no one seemed to care. I had arranged my pillows in such a way that makes people believe that I am sleeping in my bed. I was running away from my mom’s sickness, I was running away from Dad’s dropping shoulders. I was running away from myself, that one craziness that ruined it all.
Just one accident. While I sometimes wish, I can go back and just make that accident vanish from my life, I have started to see a new peace here. A new peace of leaning to life with a family and yet without the family. Slowly this has become more my home, my heart sinks when I have to leave here and go to that house, which I used to call a home.
I don’t know if it is guilt that is creating a crater so big, that I just don’t want to talk to anyone anymore. It made me feel better to think that my parents ceased to love me, it was lot better than the burning guilt. I could go and talk to Dad, may be offer some help, to get some normalcy back in place. But getting myself to do it was like moving a mountain.
The only solace in that house which pulls me there every day is Eva, and her beautiful smile. Every time I sneak to her nursery when my mother is not noticing, I can see her happy, she reaches out to hold me, she smiles when I sing to her. I don’t try to hold or carry her just to be safe.
Today the day seemed different, I think I am going to set right all the things I had made wrong. The sun was setting, I had an unsettling urge to talk to my dad. I don’t know how many days, weeks and months have passed with each one of us living like this in isolation. I was going to talk to him today. After all nothing was actually lost in reality. Determined, I looked up, and not far, I could see Dad walking towards the graveyard. That day seemed different.
My heard leaped, I felt this was the moment where everything would just go back to being normal. How I yearn that normal!
As I saw him walk here, I was forming the sentences. He knew all along, he knew all along that it was the place I had frequented. He was coming here in search of me. In an instinct I wanted to hide from him, just hide from immediate vision till I had the right words to utter.
He stumbled a little, I could see him search for me in vain. I wanted to shout out to him, I refrained. I would not make this an emotional outburst. I was determined to portray the dauntless I was once again. I was already a big girl, an elder sister and I knew exactly what to say.
Dad was searching for me, he walked behind the big shady tree. I realised that I had never explored that side, just seen a kitten sneak in there.
But somehow, I felt everything is going to change for good at this moment. Sometimes that’s what happens in life, it’s that one moment where everything just changes. I could sense that good moment there, just around there. Behind that tree. I was determined to make everything fall into place. Just to make everything normal. Much that I started liking this place, I know that I should come here less.
I wanted to scream out to dad, I held myself.
He walked up behind the tree sat down like he was exhausted and could not bear to walk anymore. I walked up to him to hug him and let him know that we together can set it all right.
He was staring at something and there it was, my heart was racing very fast.
I saw my name itched in golden over an epitaph
“Mia, 23rd March 2006 – 4th May 2016; You will always be with us – Love Dad, Mom, Eva”.
The world around me blurry but my vision clear, it was me that I had lost. Something in me just shattered, shattered beyond repair! 4th May 2016, it was two days after the accident.