Photographs from the family album III

Dear me,

It’s 6:40 in the clock right now. The sun sank long ago, it’s just one of those days. Mother is about to let you out to play in the nearby garden. You are eight, your bicycle is blue and shiny, except at the rear end because Tarun keeps crashing his cycle into yours. For fun. Do you remember this day? I think you do, it’s unforgettable in many ways.

You are about to leave, and so is mother. You see her leave and you can’t remember the last time she welcomed you home after playing with her magic lemonade. She’s too tired, she says. You want to tell her that it’s okay if she can’t add magic to it, only lemonade will also do. But you don’t say anything. She leaves and instructs you to head to the park and nowhere else. She doesn’t turn back to check.

Father taught you how to ride the cycle. One of the lessons was, to never leave the society. Never venture out on the road without him. But you follow mother this time. The trainer wheels somehow cause more commotion than the evening traffic as you try to speed up, to keep track of mother. It’s December but your t-shirt sticks to your sweaty back anyway. I am writing this letter to you, to tell you, don’t.

Don’t do this. Don’t follow mother. Don’t kick the trainer wheels off at the next traffic light. You don’t really know how to ride a cycle yet. Don’t try riding the cycle without training wheels because you are going to fall against the gravel, and when your father asks you will have no explanation to give. Don’t follow your mother, because you already know where she’s going and you won’t be able to live with the memory of it. I am writing this letter to you, begging you to turn back. Find the park, find your friends, find your games, find your innocence again.

You are not going to understand what you see. The familiarity of Ashwini’s house is going to feel strange today, because Ashwini is your friend and why would mother ever visit her place without you. Turn back now. don’t try to solve mysteries that don’t belong to you. Because when you do that, you hear things and see things that fall on your insides like acid, that numb your ears till all you can hear is the sound of utensils crashing on the floor like rain. You will not understand what mother was trying to do, with her back on that dining table, her legs spread apart, her face contorted with a pain that didn’t seem all too painful.

You are going to be haunted by your mother’s scream all life, every day, every night. When father asks you look tired all the time, you are going to have no answer to give. When he asks mother, she is going to have no answer to give. She thinks of your cycle, lying on the road outside Ashwini’s house. She knows you know. You know she knows. You will never look at her again, she won’t be able to meet your eyes again. Father won’t understand this silence, this cold war. He is going to blame himself. You have to stop him. You have to turn back. Don’t follow mother. Don’t find out.

Because you are going to be fourteen when Tarun lends you his favourite magazine.  The cover girl’s glossy breasts are going to make you feel uncomfortable. You are going to want to throw the magazine away but you flip through its pages anyway.  And you are going to come across a graphic you’ve seen before, the one you see every time you see your mother, or Ashwini, or her mother. You are going to switch the lights on to read more. Whatever you feel right then will be a welcome break from the sadness that had possessed you since father’s suicide.

It is going to take a while, but you are going to understand what had happened that day. You are going to understand mother again. And you’re going to want to tell her that. But words will fail you everyday, until it becomes too long a silence to be broken. You are going to move out and move far far away, trying to escape your wordlessness. You are going to miss father so much. You are going to miss mother so much more.

I am writing to you, begging you to turn back. Because today is my wedding day and I’ve fought so long and so hard for this day. A court of law has only just validated the legality of my emotions for another human. You turn back because today I need my mother to walk me down the aisle. I need her to hold my hand, and lend me her strength. The man of my dreams will be waiting for me, in a white tux I picked for him. And my battles have just begun.

from the near future,




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