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I remember the afternoon as if it were yesterday. Sitting on the cold floor of my bedroom I had cried uncontrollably, heartbrokenly. Please, please let me overcome this, I said to no one in particular. Please let me not disintegrate, let me just have the strength to bear this. That’s all I ask. I don’t know who I thought would grant me what I asked for. I did not believe in the power of a God to wipe away the impossible situation I was in. I knew of no human who could help ease the unbearable sadness I felt. Holding secrets in my heart that I could not spill, I cried, that afternoon, for myself, for what I never had, and yet was losing.

After some time the sobs that wracked me gradually stopped, so did my tears. But my heart was unbearably heavy still. Something rising from my heart was stuck in my throat choking me. An innate desire to scoop out its contents and free myself from the pain took hold of me as if what caused the pain was something tangible. The tears welled again. But the intensity had dropped. Now they flowed in silent helplessness down my cheeks.

The sun shone outside in all the brightness of a sunny December afternoon. But it was setting in mine, bringing on an early twilight. For no reason at all the title of a book I had read long back came to my mind, constricting my heart, sending fresh waves of pain all over my battered body. If it’s not forever it’s not love. I had picked it off the shelf simply because I liked the title. Yes, I am a fool that way, a romantic fool who goes by what her heart says. This time my heart had gone down the wrong alley. I hated it for leading me astray like this.

The red kurti with tiny unequal-sized checks in beige that i was wearing was rumpled. I smoothed out its edges and started counting the tiny squares. I don’t know why but it is something I do when stressed, start counting. I remember the many fights with Raj, the late nights when I couldn’t sleep. I kept counting the seconds in my mind, obsessively, my eyes following the needle of the clock as it went on its round. 1-2-3-4-5. I wanted my ‘5’ to coincide exactly with the needle’s completion of five seconds. Then I’d start again. It went on and on, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5 all night long till sleep finally, mercifully graced me. That afternoon, I counted the squares on my kurti, horizontally, vertically, tried to group them according to shade, size, looking for a pattern to emerge.

That’s another thing I do, look for patterns in everything. Where was the pattern in my life? There was none. Tears welled afresh. Once again a plea rose from my lips. Please take this decision out of my hand. I cannot bear this life of reliance any longer. I did not know what to do, so hoped something would happen, something that would free me from taking a decision myself. Probably someone somewhere heard it. Or perhaps it had just been a random happening and I am succumbing to the human tendency to attribute reasons to everything, connect totally unconnected events. Whatever it was, I rather think my pleas were attended to, by someone with a weird sense of humor.

The man who came at me hadn’t been drunk. He was driving safely and on the right side of the road. But he had a cardiac arrest. I happened to be standing in the car’s way as it swerved dangerously and came the wrong way, right at me. How long does it take for a life to change? Not very long, I found. Mine changed the very second I was banged against the concrete wall behind the pavement. Probably so did the lives of the man’s family members, for he died on the spot. As for me, I wasn’t going anywhere any more. Not on my own anyway. The decision was taken out of my hands. My life was going to be one of dependence, after all. From my bed it looked like one too long. I wished the nurse would soon finish with Raj and come move me to a new position. My back was itching.

Linked to 3WW CCLXVIII

Prompt words: kept, dependence, rumpled.