The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life11 mins 486 11 mins 486
18th Apr 2016 10:00 pm
I wish I could go to sleep, even if it is for an hour. I keep tossing and turning in my bed. Tears roll down my eyes until the pillow case is drenched completely. I get up, wash my face and then crawl back into bed, hoping that my tired eyes would give me a break and would finally want to be done for the day. I miss my mother. I wish I could run into her arms. I wish she would hold me and run her hand lovingly on my head, asking me to stop shedding tears. I wish she would speak to me in her soothing voice and impart her wisdom on how futile it is to cry. I know I would have caught her crying every time she thought I wasn’t around. That is the kind of person my mother is-Strong but tender-hearted, sensitive and understanding but Strong willed. I wish I could go home.
This is how Rhea was spending her nights nowadays.
Irritated and fed up of trying to sleep, Rhea got up and rushed out of the house. She began to run, slowly at first but gradually she picked up pace and started to run really fast. She stopped for a second to catch her breath and then realized that she was dressed in her nightdress. Unperturbed by this discovery she began running again. She knew that she had to reach somewhere. Shashank had said that he would wait for her but she just couldn’t remember where. She stood at the center of some road trying to think where she wanted to go. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She shut her eyes tightly. Suddenly some kind of background noise began playing. It was a chorus of sorts. It was the sound of the chirping of birds.
She cracked open her eyes and could hear a familiar sound. It was dawn and birds had begun to chirp outside. Rhea then realized that she had been dreaming. Relieved, she let her hand fall on the other side of the bed, hoping to touch Shashank as he slept. It was empty.
It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.
Yet another day without him had begun.
She picked up the journal that she had begun to maintain recently and started sharing her sorrow with this new found friend.
19th Apr 2016 10:30 am
I found the courage to get out of bed finally around 9. I kept looking towards the other side of the bed. It held no proof of someone warming it up at night. I wish I could see some creases on the white bed sheet on the other side too. I would give anything to have those furrows on my bed sheet, each one holding a part of the warmth of his body.
I could barely sleep the entire night and was up in the morning even before the rays of the Sun streamed into my room. This had been our room. I still cannot bring myself to believe and accept that he has left me. The rays of the Sun no longer felt good.
Every morning she would wake up when the first rays of the Sun entered their room. She would then smile, looking at him lying next to her wrapping his arm around her waist. That is the way he liked to sleep, touching some inch of her body all night. She would then slide out of bed gently without disturbing him.
This is how her days began until sometime ago.
She made a cup of coffee for herself, gulping down the warm liquid, hoping it would warm her heart a little which at this point of time seemed so cold and barren.
While Rhea was wallowing in her sorrow, music by the Goo Goo dolls started playing.
‘And I don't want the world to see me 'Cause I don't think that they'd understand When everything's meant to be broken I just want you to know who I am”
It took her a few seconds to realize that the phone was ringing.
‘Good Morning Mumma’, said Aaliya.
Rhea quickly calculated the current time in New York ‘what are you doing up so late beta? How are your classes going on’? Aaliya, her only child was doing her masters from New York University.
‘Everything is absolutely fine. I wish I could be there with you. I get so worried about you. Have you eaten anything since morning?’
‘Don’t worry about me beta. I am a big girl and can take care of myself. You just concentrate on your studies right now. I shall try to visit you soon’
‘Yes ma. Has anyone from Shashank’s family spoken to you in the last few days? ‘asked Aaliya
‘Yes. His son had come to collect a few of his belongings. He did not say anything to me. With him gone, I guess there is not much left to say now’
‘You take care of yourself ma. I shall speak to you tomorrow. Let me know if you want me to come. I promise I shall try to be there with you as soon as possible’
‘Bye Aaliya. I love you beta. Take care of yourself’
With that, the call got disconnected. Rhea smiled faintly remembering her daughter. She still wondered at times on how quickly her little daughter had grown into such a fine woman.
This was the first time she had smiled in a long while. Aaliya was all she was left with now. She felt like a little child who was alone, lost and scared of this world.
She knew that she would have to eat something substantial very soon but she just didn’t feel like eating anything. All she felt like doing was lying in her bed and crying.
She picked up her pen again and continued finding solace in the scribbles made in her journal.
‘Note to self:-
This just can’t go on. You have to overcome this fear. It is not the first time you are feeling this deep sense of loss.
She had been in a lot of pain before as well. You don’t just grow old and wise without experiencing pain of different sorts. It had hurt when her marriage with Gautam didn’t last. It had hurt a lot when her mom refused to accept her decision to move in with Shashank.
‘Are you crazy? Have you no shame? Why can’t you marry him and then stay with him. We are broad-minded people. I want to see you married again’, she had said.
‘I don’t want to get married to him ma. I just want to share my life with him. Both of us have had our share of marrying and children. Now we just want to enjoy companionship. What is wrong with that?
‘I would not support you in this decision’, she had said.
She had known pain in a lot of forms but this one felt so different.
This was a pain, which just enters your heart, sits there, digging its claws into the soft walls, eating it up, little by little until there is a big hole inside your heart. This is the kind of pain that creeps up every time you feel a little brave, ready to overcome it. You feel that you just might be able to win in this battle.
That is the kind of ache that had gripped her since the last 7 days.
She began to think about her marriage with Gautam. She thought of the sense of loss she had felt when they had separated. She was devastated and disappointed with herself because she was unable to make her marriage work. Marriages were supposed to work-at least her marriage was. She had done all that she could but she had started to feel miserable. The thought of bringing up her daughter alone scared her but she knew that she just couldn’t continue being miserable. She would have never left Gautam and would have tried some more but finding out about his affair was more than she could take.
Thinking about how different her life with both these men had been, she started to scribble in her journal again.
19th Apr 2:00 pm
Divorce and Death
Here I am, alone again. A broken marriage that had lasted for 5 years. The death of the man I truly loved. I was foolish to believe that our happiness together would never end. We may not be a married couple but he meant more than Gautam had ever meant to me.
She still remembered the first time she had met him. A year after her divorce raising her daughter as a single working mother looking for a new and exciting thing to learn. That is when she decided to join a painting class. Shashank was the one teaching the class she ended up joining as a student. He was an animator with a passion for the arts. He was a divorced single parent too, bringing up his son, who was around 10 at that time.
They were not sure of what drew them to each other. There was no one particular thing. It might have been the timing or their similar situations. It might have been the fact that they had both learnt what is needed to make a relationship successful the hard way. It is so ironic that how in one relationship’s failure lies the secret to the success of another one.
19th Apr 5:00 pm
All things just keep coming back to me. I spend the entire day thinking about the times we have spent together.
Why did I meet him so late in my life? Why couldn’t he be the one I got married to in the first place? If I had known that I would lose him so soon I would have not spent a moment apart. I would have sat next to him watching him paint. I wish I knew.
She finally closed her diary, got up and walked across the drawing room to the room he had used to keep all his paintings. A few were hung up on the wall and some were resting against the wall. In the center of the room was the painting that he had been working on. It had been mounted on an easel. The easel had been placed slightly tilted towards the open window so that the painted canvas was lit up with a lot of light. This was the one he had forbidden her to see unless he completed it. He had not known then that he would never be able to complete it. In that moment, she wished she would have died with him. She went towards the piece of cloth stretched on a frame, mounted on the easel in front of her. In the center of the painting was a long tree with a thick solid trunk and thickly covered branches. A few of the leaves on these branches were painted, while the others were still naked, waiting for their creator to adorn them. Next to this tree lay another one with bright red flowers popping out of it
At first glance she just couldn’t understand why this painting meant so much to him. She took a step back to take another look at it. She began studying the colors and the strokes on that canvas. Then she saw what lay beyond the open window. She saw what he had wanted her to see. The half-grown mango tree stood there –the tree that they had planted together. The tree, which, like their life together was still half grown. She looked at the one in the painting. This one had grown fully. It had thick branches and was full of leaves. It just stood there waiting to be completed.
She instinctively knew what was needed. She bent down and picked up a brush and a tube of color from the box kept on a chair near the easel. There were so many tubes in that box- some new and some squeezed till their last breath. Then there were those that had been pressed in a weird way altering their shape and form. She dabbed a little yellow color on the palette lying there. She then touched the tip of her brush wrapping the yellow color on it properly. Bending forward she began painting a bright yellow mango hanging from one of the tree’s branches. At that moment something inside her changed. She had begun to learn that life would never be the same without Shashank but it could still be made worth living.