You often wish that you could go back in time and erase that few odd minutes from your life. You wish you could unsee what you had to see; you wish you didn’t have to know what you knew; you wish you had not lost your innocence and optimism even before you had a chance to comprehend the essence of life; you wish you were not trapped in this cynical, hopeless existence, the one that you have grown to hate more with each passing second.
My mother watched silently as I continued to brush my hair. I tossed the comb on the dressing table and grabbed my bag. She silently followed me into the hall where my father sat, looking helpless and weak. My parents exchanged a nervous glance as I walked towards the front door, but neither of them dared to ask me anything.
Since I have moved in with them, it has been like this. My parents never talked to me until I asked them anything, which was indeed very rare. My mother dutifully followed me from room to room, in pretext of carrying out some errands, probably making sure I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Dr. Shetty must have warned them. He wasn’t very happy to let me go. But I was persistent and my test results were good. He couldn’t keep me in if I didn’t want to stay. My parents were too eager to take me in; they perhaps wanted to make up for all the things that had gone wrong in the past. I am sure they didn’t have any idea at the time about what they were signing up for.
When I lock the door to my room from the inside, they would linger in front my room, listening intently for any sound of distress. I often see my mother wiping off her tears and I have never seen my father look more pathetic. I know they are worried about me, I wish I could be more sympathetic. But they have lost all their right to be concerned about me years ago, the day they refused to believe me, the day they left my sister to die.
Perhaps I was being cruel to two old souls who had suffered enough in their life. But I can’t help myself. All these years of delusion and guilt has left me empty. I can empathize with no one. I feel nobody else’s pain. How am I expected to when my own pain is more than what I can handle?
I closed the door behind me. I paused for a second and closed my eyes. This could be the last I see of my parents. They were good people, they deserved better. I was surprised to feel a drop of tear roll down my cheek. I haven’t cried in years. I quickly wiped it off and headed towards the gate.
As I kept walking, I saw her face again –her face stained with tears as she pulled me closer and whispered-“You should not tell anybody Aanya, promise me that you won’t.”
The ten-year-old-me was perplexed. I had raised my shivering hands to her head and said-“I promise, I won’t tell anyone” .She had buried her head in the crook of my neck and sobbed while I stared at the blank wall and tried to make sense of the things.
It is that same tear stained face and red eyes that have haunted me all these years, day and night.