Brown eyes stared back at me and I was forced to blink rapidly to see clearly. Worlds had shifted and suddenly I could hear the blood pumping through my veins, the drumming of my ears became louder and breathing became heavy. I could see my reflection stare at me desperately.
I stepped out of the washroom and there he was. Bleeding from the head, unblinking and clouded eyes looked as if they could see the coveted light of peace. My insides wanted to scream ‘Dada, Dada’ but like one of those nightmares where our voices betray us, I stood glued to the floor.
One last look at myself before I hurled my breakfast into the sink. Ugh. Sick all over. Brain and mind and body. The rotten smell of the disgust with the nausea from the blood I had cleaned seemed to render all sane thinking coherent.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Wake up! Dada has fallen down! He’s bleeding! My mom rushed out in her nightclothes as a pale faced brother of mine followed. Servants emerged out of the shadows that they are trained to be in, to help two screaming women and a teenager pick their bleeding grandfather off the floor. The ambulance was on it’s way.
Sirens in my head and prayers in my soul. First thought to enter my mind, you ask. Oh God, why does this have to happen before my birthday? A piece of my conscience raised it’s eyebrows as I mused – God is too cruel. Everything is ruined now. A funeral on my birthday? No thank you.
‘Thank you, thank you so much.’ Sputtered my father as he shook the doctor’s hands. Papa’s eyes had dark circles beneath them, owing to the late night flight from Dubai to India and many a sleepless nights before that. His ever present smile had been replaced by a worried frown and a prayer to hold on to the last surviving member of his original family.
Family should be enough. No friends and no party but yeah. Mum, Dad, Dada and Brother. Good enough. I couldn’t believe that this is what it had come down to. My birthday. God I remember college. Such attention, such love and so many gifts. Now that is what I call a celebration. Not this year. Not now.
Not now. Not yet. He prayed fervently at his Father’s bedside. Papa turned, feeling a hand on his shoulder. Our driver had got Dada’s favourite. Pineapple juice, for him. Tilting the hospital bed upright, Papa tried to make him sip it. Suddenly his eyes flew open and he smacked his lips, Papa heaved a sigh of thanksgiving.
In my own time of thanksgiving, I sat in the temple on my birthday. The peace gave me space to think of the past week. So much had happened. A life had been saved, a family had been strong and a selfish girl had been born. Sometimes, as humans, we are too hard on ourselves for our shortcomings. And sometimes, we should be. On the outside I am understanding and forgiving, while on the inside I can, I admit, fall to any depths to be the centre of that attention.
I have learnt that if I think of what should, what would or what could be, I lose sight of what is. I lose sight of who loves me in search of all those who don’t anymore. And for this, my soul asks forgiveness. In silence, I pray for all those who could forgive me if my behaviour has caused them pain or hurt. I accept all and thank Her for all that She has given me.
Freud can probably explain it better than I can, for I cannot. I have learnt to be less surprised at the grayness inside of me. But I have also learned to be graceful about it. We’re all guilty of thoughts that we ought not to be. Of silent hopes of someone dying or living or falling down stairs or of someone failing the test we know we screwed up. But in the end, it is our self awareness that defines us. The most human thing is to make a mistake but the most diving thing about humans is the ability to accept them, to forgive selves and better them.
Brown eyes smiled back at me and my cheeks lifted as my lips curved. They spoke to me. It’s okay they said. It’s okay…