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Asavari Bhattacharya

Abstract Others Children

4.5  

Asavari Bhattacharya

Abstract Others Children

Beats Synchronized

Beats Synchronized

9 mins
389


I folded the letter into a neat little rectangle, closing the corners into tiny triangles absentmindedly. I had this inherent paranoia since childhood that if you didn’t take some extra measures, a letter would lose its essence through the little tears and corners of the paper on which it’s written. It’s like keeping soup in a polythene bag. It is essential for me to take care of these little details, especially for my letters, for they’re a physical form of my thoughts, and no matter how humble you are, you wouldn’t like your thoughts to lose their way into nothingness, would you? It’s ironical. If I took such care about other things in my life, things that seemingly affect me, and very realistically affect others, I wouldn’t get into as much trouble as I do. But if you were someone who knew me, you’d give up any clinging hope on that matter. For I’m too lazy (perhaps indifferent?) to change myself. Besides, what’s life without a little drama?

I look at the letter and I smile. This is going to be my last letter to my mother. After that there will be no more. I hope I’ve written it alright.

The August sun is a bit harsh nowadays. I was thankful for it for the first few days, but now it is just exasperating me. I wonder why the weather is so moody nowadays. Frankly, it’d give me a serious competition, for a change. It’s very odd, having the May sun in an August morning, but we’ve to thank ourselves for this change. I wish people would stop acting so stupidly and simply take global warming and climate change seriously.

Dear Maa,

I want you to know that I’m sorry. I’m sorry about the way I spoke to you yesterday. About my behavior. About hurting you. I’m sorry. You’ve done so much, and you don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve this at all.

I wonder if mum is awake yet. It’s 7:45 on my watch: she needs to reach her office by 8:40. I wonder if she’s going to be okay, if she’s going to make it on time on her own. Especially since I won’t be there for her.

The bus is a fascinating place. There are so many people, young, old, and middle aged. I look into the eyes of a grumpy old woman, who is thankfully spaced out for the time being. She is tiny, like a squirrel trapped in a human’s body. However, you certainly wouldn’t say that about her eyes. They were of a basilisk’s, bitter and true, like death.

I try to picture this woman in the same age as me. Nineteen, hopeful and not knowing what the future holds. Or was it like this for her at nineteen? I’m a privileged dreamy brat born with a silver spoon in an upper middle class Bengali family. I wouldn’t know desperation or hunger or sexism or discrimination that easily. All I know is a glimpse of real life brought to me via Facebook and WhatsApp. That’s all I’m ever going to know at nineteen.

A lot of things are happening. Things I’m not used to. Things I won’t ever tell you, because it hurts my pride to know I couldn’t deal with these things. I’m sorry. I’m weak. I’m not the daughter you deserve. I could be proud to just say I’m trying, but I’m not doing that either. I don’t know why, but I’ve given up.

It’s raining now. Splish splash down the little alleys of the bus windows. A drop falls on my arm, snaking its way to the dark triangle of my elbow. I eye the teardrop, fascinated and then blow it off.

I wonder if Maa has seen my letter.

I’ve been doing this from my childhood. There were often not enough words to express what was in my head, through my mouth. But I found faithful companions in ink and paper. They were my Hermione and Ron through all the treacherous Voldemorts of my thoughts. And they have always been like this ever-since.

I find speaking a great hassle. Why can’t people understand things, simple things easily? It’s not like I’m an introvert. It’s just easier for me to speak only when required. Or just pen down what I think.

Never mind why I’ve given up. That’s the standard rule of most human beings nowadays: to give up. Same with me I believe. And I’m even more blessed. Whenever something unpleasant happens, I run away from it. Nice. Must have been a deer in my previous birth. But I want you to know that I’ll stop doing so. I can’t see myself in the mirror anymore. Which is a real pain, considering the amount of effort I have to put in, in order to look human after I get up.

Good lord!! basilisk eyes on me! The tiny woman catches me staring at her, eyes point blank on her shriveled up old forehead.

I have a very direct gaze, which makes it impossible for the person I’m staring at to feel at ease after my forgetful eyes choose to bestow their presence on him or her.

At first, she was mildly intrigued. Then seeing that my vacant eyes would not budge, she stared fixedly back at me. Before long I feel a burning sensation in my eyes, and then understand that I was staring into the eyes of the devil herself.

I look away. But something’s amiss. The burning sensation is still there. When I look back, she’s still staring at me, an evil glint in her eyes.

 If that’s what you want old mum, I say to myself calmly, then be it.

And then I lock eyes with her.

It starts from Sinthimore. We were like two gun men from the West, the desert being the hot glare of the sun reflected into our faces, the guns being our eyes, as they continue to sear into each other.

That, the first one to get off the bus is the loser, is a given. Somewhere near Tobin road a man gets up on the bus. Finding the vacant place in front of her, he proceeds to stand there, only to be greeted with an unexpected hiss from her. It was positively a hiss, I swear. The poor man fumbled helplessly through his way in the bus, while his slightly older counterparts shrank away from her.

The conductor tries to intervene, but met with the same fate.

I see her getting tensed now. What is it? Then I understand. The next stop is Paikpara. She has to get off there.

She’s violent now. Her gaze becomes like steel. An effective method our Indian adults use to quell disobedient children. The ultimate nightmare of docile people like me.

I want to give up. But I’m tired of it. There are some places, where you’ve to put your foot down. It’s not to prove a point to anyone. It’s to help yourself get outside a certain sofa-like place you've jammed yourself in, which doesn’t let you get forward. Besides once I make my mind, no one wins against me.

She continues to dissect me open with her eyes. Paikpara is now but a few hundred meters away. It’s funny, but I somehow understand that if she could, she’d stop the bus and time itself right now, to put me down.

Paikpara.

She gets up. Her eyes are still on me. I calmly return her gaze, the intensity of my eyes decreasing as hers increased. Right up to the end huh, old mum?

I still feel her gaze as the bus pulls out of Paikpara.

The passengers look at me, incredulous and half-shocked at my redoubtable self. If I were younger, I’d have probably made a gun out of my first two fingers and blown imaginary smoke over them.

I see a lot of people nowadays Maa. And what I see doesn’t please me. Everyone looks the same. 

There are people who try to blend in. Poorly made up faces, half tucked in clothes (style I believe). I feel sorry for them.

But there are faces I look away from. Big frowns, permanent unhappy lines on the faces, dis-colored washed up faded countenances, like half blown-out candles. I don’t want to look like them. Not because of a fear of growing old. Because all these faces, they just have one thing written on them. Given up.

This is my last letter. Yes, I won’t write any more letters of apology. Because there’s going to be no more hurt. No more half-finished arguments. I don’t like regrets you know. I’ve decided one thing. When I grow old, I want to look like you Maa. If people look at my face, they’ll feel happy. And that starts from now.

This is my last letter.

I smile to myself, a bit sheepish. The eye battle was a draw, in fact it was cut short, but the victory’s mine. Personal victories, no matter how small, always make us feel big.

My dear Ma,

 I am sorry too. I am very sorry for one thing. I am not angry. But I am very very worried and afraid for you. You always doing something, that makes me worried. And you are adopping (adopting) this habit. You are a learner. You should learn how to overcome or handle a bad situation. How to self motivate for own. Always you stay unhappy. I am not tolerating this at all. I want you happy. You are my only daughter. You are better than me. You have a strong personality. Be strong. 

And one thing, this is not last letter. You will always write me. You express your thinking with this writing. One thing you always remember. Always bad thing will be 90 % and good thing will be only 10%.

You see this 10% of good things more than 90% of bad things. That will help you not to give up. That will help you to become a lady, if you adopt this. Always stay happy, be strong, cultivate your thinking in positive way. We are always with you. We love you very much.                                                                                              Your dear Maa.

I wipe the tears from my eyes. In my hands were the words of my mother. And her heart. I don’t understand. Broken English, bad grammar, spelling mistakes. Yet how does she know how to touch my heart?

 I guess you can cut the umbilical cord right after we’re born, but it stays, binding us till our deaths.


I really don't like my Maa sometimes. The woman knows how to make me cry. She really knows how to tug at the threadbare emotions I have, and how to seek the bare minimum warmth they have. And she reminds me that we're connected. Connected by beats synchronized together. 

 

 



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