It has been raining every day since she left. The poetic might think of it as the sky crying its heart out in empathy. But right now, I hate the sky for pouring down. All I can think of is of the rainwater seeping into the freshly dug soil. She must be feeling so cold and wet in her grave, I think, My rational mind immediately takes over and tells me where she is she does not feel a thing. Still I wish the rain would let up. What if the sun shone, would that have made me feel any better? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. I would then have hated the sun for drying up and hardening the soft soil while she lay in it. I chide myself for being foolish and fanciful. You should know better, I tell myself. Yes, I should, but somehow I don’t. Not now.
In the dark of the night I hear her crying in agitation like she used to do the last few weeks. She is not there downstairs, I know. It is just my mind playing its trick on me. Unknowingly my ears strain to hear her loud snores. Where is she, I am tempted to ask when the L&M comes up the stairs with my evening fruit. She used to follow him at a much slower pace, dragging herself up one step at a time. Passenger train, her dad teased her. Zombie walk, was what I called it. Why do you have to come upstairs, I used to ask her. Stay where you are, I will come down. She wouldn’t listen. I took to spending more time downstairs these past weeks so she needn’t drag herself up all the steps. When she did come up, I postponed whatever chores was needed to get done downstairs just so she didn’t have to go up and down again.
Yesterday when the L&M came back inside at night after locking the front gate I impulsively asked, ‘Where is she?’ thinking he had left her outside. That half a roti from the two I have for dinner has no takers anymore. Now I get to eat the whole custard apple with no one pawing me for her share. All the good seedless bits from them were hers, while I labored over the bits with seeds. But now the whole fruit is mine. I make sure I don’t have to go to the ‘work area’ behind the kitchen after dinner because she is not there to do a reconnaissance for me and give the all clear. No mice, mom. You can step in. Returning home is a sad affair. No deafening barks in welcome, there is only a deafening silence.
Her dad cleared away all her medicines from atop the sideboard, there was a bagful, also removed her mattress and blankets, put away her bowls. No, my heart cried silently. Don’t! I want them where they are, to see them. I am not ready to see them go. But people grieve differently, so I let him do it his way. Instead I flipped through my phone, looking at all her photos and videos, remembering, smiling. Her voice, just the sound of her breathing in the videos, calmed me. Her water bowl in my room remained where it was for days till the thought of mosquitoes made me throw the water away. On my table I have her orange duck, the only thing I now have left of what belonged to her, apart from the memories. A keepsake for all the good times we had together.
© Shail Mohan 2021