VOIDS by Pruthviraj Madne

…what I do know is that it is easier during the day than it is at night.

I think the day, with all its cheerful brightness and lively sounds, is god’s way of deceiving people like us into believing they’re not alone in this world; and it is a good one too: it fools me every time; it is the ultimate deception. And I do not mind being deceived. It’s better to be deceived than being crushed by reality.

All good things, however, must come to an end, and the day is no exception. It fades away, little by little, taking away its brightness, and all those sounds that help me believe, and I wake up from my waking dream in an empty house, and I can hear my breathing, and the beating of my heart and I wonder if it has, like me, had enough of this life. It hasn’t.

But I am not entirely alone – my beloved children made sure of that. They would never let their mother suffer like that. They love me very much. How could they have left me alone after the death of their father? They arrived not twelve hours after and held me till tears drained my grief, and I am thankful for them. They wouldn’t let me suffer. They love me very much.

It is easy to lie to yourself, what’s difficult is believing those lies.

They had arrived within twelve hours. And remained for thirteen days. But they hadn’t come alone. They had brought what they thought was enough to make up for the absence of their father: a maid servant, Anu. They said she’ll keep me company. And look after my needs. I asked them how she wound up here, is she not too young. Her family needs the money, they told me. I smiled and thanked them for being blind to their mother’s needs. They left feeling
triumphant.

Anu lives with me now, and keeps the house clean, and the plants watered, and massages my feet, and cooks for me, and does everything else that my body needs to keep going.

We don’t speak to each other. I have tried. But there’s always a room that isn’t clean enough or a jar of milk that needs to be filled or a meal to be prepared: a way to decline politely. We’ve
never been in the same room for a minute longer than needed, except in the evenings when I sit on the porch watching anything and everything that the world has to offer and she – her hands sewing or peeling or folding, unconsciously – watches it with me. One day I notice how her gaze doesn’t move, how it remains fixed on a park around the corner, on a group of girls playing tikkar billa. I tell her she can go play with them if she wants. I discover the beauty of her smile that day. She has made friends with those girls now and plays with them every day. She is
really pretty when she laughs. I don’t feel alone when I watch them.

All good things, however, must come to an end, and the play is no exception – it ends, day fades, sounds die.

And it is easier during the day than it is at night.

Anu sleeps in the den. Often times I have found myself wondering if I should ask her to come
sleep with me, but I don’t. I am afraid she wouldn’t want to; she wouldn’t refuse, but maybe, she
wouldn’t want to. I don’t want to find out. So I lie on my cold bed, eyes closed, hoping for sleep
to come, for a way to escape nonexistent existence.

Anu, she works and plays and keeps to herself.

***

I’m shivering in bed on a cold winter night. I am missing him, and them, and it is easier during the day than it is at night. I can not sleep. My voice quivers through the night’s bitter, crushing silence and hails Anu. It is a little after twelve. I hear her shuffling in the other room. She is at the door faster than I expect.

“Yes, Aai,” she calls.

“Why don’t you sleep with me here tonight?” I ask, scared of the refusal that I think is about to come.

She reasons with herself before finally taking a step forward and starts walking towards the bed. She passes the window and walks over to the cupboard. I cannot see what she’s doing till she turns around. My lips shiver themselves into a smile. She covers me with another blanket before lying down beside me, facing the other way. We sleep through the night

Comments

comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here