To Be Worried About
To Be Worried About5 mins 373 5 mins 373
To Be Worried About
yes, I like golden, local-fair, glass bangles –
the kind my mother, my family label as cheap, for they
are supposed to adorn the hands of the lesser privileged,
but I love them, I hold them close
the kind with gleaming paints, glitter-coated
for they assure me, that wet, dark shadows
is not the legacy of all of humankind
and some leave glittery trails
and footprints of shine and shimmer
upon the ground on which they tread
and, in my life –
this glittery trail, this golden shadow
is the legacy of your presence
I am three years old. Or maybe four or five, but not a year older than five. In fact, I am scared of being even a minute older than five, for the fear that it may rip open the soft, carefully cushioned layers of my dreams. I’m running the courtyard of your house – your house, mind it not my house, and I’m looking at the clouds, my toddler’s eyes trying their best to capture the shape shifting brilliance of these balls of wool. Suddenly, I hear the sound of your car’s horn followed by the sound of you concluding a call with someone. As I hear your footsteps, I turn around – spin around – abruptly, and without caring about who’s listening, because people don’t usually judge a five year old, I cry out in joy on the top of my lungs, and fling myself into your arms. And, just like Aamir Khan lifts Ishaan in his embrace and throws him into the sky, and the way Ishaan’s spread out hands and stretched out palms aim for the stars, my hands and palms behave the same way. And, as I stay in a suspended mid-air position, I know there is a pair of strong arms waiting to catch me. I know that this pair of strong arms won’t let me fall. After this, I run away and indulge in a game of hide-and-seek choosing one of the darkest places under the staircase. Of course, as always, I am scared of the rats, lizards and mice that lurk in this pitch darkness, that hold the darkness on their backs, a darkness that is so dark, there is no space for a single star. But, somehow my three year old heart is completely assured that I will not have wait as long. I know you will pull me out of this dark place, and hold me to your heart and laugh. I wouldn’t know why you were laughing, back then, but seeing your eyes flicker with light, light that goes on and off, and my toddler’s heart does not hesitate to create a direct analogy between the lights of your eyes and stage-lights. After all, the lights of your eyes are what shimmer upon my part of the world, upon my stage. In short, your joy is my joy. Suddenly, as your laughter comes to a stop – I burst out laughing.
But today, after I have counted till two hundred and twenty-two, you don’t come. I don’t know where you’ve gone. As I emerge out of the dark, my eyes clouded with emotion that is most definitely too strong and too intense for such a young heart, but as they say, an emotion is an emotion, no matter how strong or weak. The emotion that clouds the whites of my eyes is despair.
How I yearn to tell you that all the times I rejoiced after ‘winning’ a game of hide-and-seek against you was not the joy of victory, but the joy of watching you look for me, the joy of hearing you call out my name, and I’d especially revel In the times I couldn’t be found and watch the way you’d frown, the way your voice would touch a point of shrillness, which was in simpler words, a point of urgency. And, just when your face and your expression would teeter on the point of crumpling into tears, I would reveal myself. There is so much of joy in watching you look for me.
Look for me . . . . .
Cut to eleven years later
I am sixteen. My eyes brim over with dream, as I go and make eye contact with the world around me. I want to become a writer and even though the world isn’t with me on this, you are.
But, from a distance.
Is it because I am a young woman now, a young woman who cannot be held close, because you never know what people might say. At the end of the day, you aren’t my father or my mother, or any close relative, so to speak.. And, as a horrifying pandemic grips the world in its iron-cold fingers, I feel as though these iron cold fingers are sifting through the layers of my being, I feel these fingers highlighting the voids in my heart. My friends idolize actors and sportsmen, and cover their walls with glossed-up posters. I think I’m very lucky, that I found my superhero within the close circle of my family. And, as the world shut outside, I opened within, and I became that five year old kid again. I ran through the courtyards of your house, despite being confided within the courtyards of my abode. I feel tiny wings pushing through the spine of my pen, as within the four walls of my room, I feel these wings beating to a rhythm, a rhythm that creates a new, beautiful world. It is this world where I exist the way I wish to, and you exist the way I want you to exist.
You exist as my superhero. In fact, you are my superhero.
Even though I believe that this is the strongest relationship in the world, I wonder, how much does it count? Most importantly, does it count at all?
Today, I want to tell you that I am lost. I am in the dark spaces beneath a staircase that I have constructed, carved for myself. How do I tell you that I want to be looked for, and I want to be called out for? And, how do I tell you, that I want to notice that expression, that twilit pause between two emotions, when your face that is otherwise confident, is on the verge of crumpling into tears, simply because it cannot find me in a game of hide and seek.
Is it possibly crossing a line when I tell you that I want to be worried about?