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What was loss? A four letter word that held in its tiny, circling arms a whole world of meanings.And most of them went beyond the left side of a Balance Sheet.Loss.
A physical deprivation? Yes, she felt that now-her body curled inwards,seeking to hold back the heat,bracing itself for the onslaught of icy droplets of Seattle rain.
A sudden lack of purpose? Yes, she knew how that felt too. Vacant days, interrupted only by bodily needs, long hours spent doodling on paper,flipping channels, leafing through piles and piles of trash that came in the mail.
The fading away of a dream? Perhaps not.She still had her dream. If you could call an oft-held thought,deepened by longing, battered by reality, weakened by circumstance..a dream.
She walked on, pulling her jacket tighter against her chest, propping up the silly hood to shield herself from the mild,exasperating rain. Another mile to go. And then she would have a hot mug of the season's favorite, Pumpkin Spice Latte, in her hands, warming them and her frozen insides till she felt real and human again.
Behind her, a sad-looking dog trailed behind a tall blonde woman who seemed least affected by the weather. Sanvi slowed down and let them pass. As she walked,she noticed the sorry little tail of the dog, down between his legs and wet as a sponge. One of those potty sessions, she guessed. She was overcome with a sudden pity for the little thing. Then she shook away the thought. He was probably yet another one of those pampered pets here in this country that had their own insurance, their special Pet Co stores, their range of dazzling products-edible and otherwise,that you could not even dream about back in India. It was just the weather that was getting him down too. She sighed, marvelling over how man and dog came together in their united despair with the clouds.
Lately she had taken to naming the plants on her way to the nearest Starbucks. It was just a way to keep her attention away from the increasingly despondent voices in her head. When she reached the little cluster of pale blue butterfly peas, she called them ' The Dancing Girls', she knew that another 100 steps would bring her to her destination.A coffee and an escape.
The cafe was more crowded than usual. A woman with an iced latte typed away furiously at her laptop. She'd kicked off her heels, flung her oversize shoulder bag on the floor next to her chair and had seemingly forgotten to zip it up,for its contents were practically spilling out-pencils, a folded newspaper, some granola bars,a comb...
The table to the left of the laptop woman had two middle aged men engaged in an earnest discussion on a house in Kirkland. The taller, louder one,possibly the real estate broker, kept up a constant flow of the merits of the kitchen, the nice long porch and the "absolutely beautiful" master bedroom. The other one listened and nodded mostly, but it was evident even to a perchance-eavesdropper like her that he was not 'sold out' quite yet. In the far corner sat a young couple, poring over what looked like a magazine and talking in low voices. They looked the kind who had just got married and clung happily to their shared intimacy,oblivious to the world and its prying eyes.
Sanvi reached the counter and after stepping around the familiar "And how are you today?" ordered her coffee and asked for the pumpkin cream cheese muffin as an after-thought. Why not? She had just walked two miles and would walk the same distance back. A calorie-laden muffin was not going to hurt. The barista smiled at her while brewing the coffee & pouring out the sticky brown liquid from a plastic bottle. He recognized this lady with her large eyes and faint smile, she came almost everyday now,same time in the evening.
Coffee in hand,she settled into a chair by the window,and drew out a thick tome from her bag. She called this her tome because its size demanded the elevated status. She'd struggled through 300 pages over the last two days, but there were still 400 to go and she was getting weary. For one year,she had tried. Tried to drown her grief in books, television & the vastness of the internet. Only books had survived as a worthy companion. They had drawn her into their fictional worlds, their own miseries & joys in life-sized helpings, and she had allowed her own existence to fade away against the canvas of theirs. Till now.
It was that time of the year again. When the bright hues of summer burst into the orange and gold of fall, when the warm cocoon of the sun is rudely snatched away to be replaced by the equal-in-strength embrace of the cold. It was at this time last year when she encountered her loss. And all the colors had dimmed till only nothingness remained. A gaping hole. And the whole essence of her being had gone hurtling down,down,down.A shell was what remained.
There was a tiny commotion at the door when a woman with a small boy walked in, bringing with them a whiff of the cold breeze, the iciness curling up her neck and sending little shivers down her spine. Sanvi reached for her coffee, held it against her face and watched the mother & son as they ordered. A cookie for the boy, a decaf for the mom. She smiled, as the boy pulled out a plastic toy car, no bigger than his fist,and ran it along the glass display with its bagels and muffins strutting themselves. The mom chided him, he sulked & pushed the car back into his pocket. She took in the way the mother held him against her side, juggling bags, her coffee and the brown paper bag with the cookie. She looked tired, yet totally comfortable being who she was. Sanvi turned away, flushed, angry with herself for feeling a pang of jealousy.
When her labor pains had started,she'd tried to smile through them, always choosing to go to her 'happy place', her baby in her arms, gurgling, kicking, screaming even, to announce its presence, demanding to be fed, changed, petted, cuddled...
she never knew what really happened, her only recollection was a crushing blow, a wave of disbelief & grief washing over her,and then-she was in a silent, secret place. Alone with her grief, her emptiness. Her glaring loss.
Rohan had been so relieved to have her safe, that his own sorrow seemed forced and pretentious. She pulled away everytime he tried to comfort her, her numbed mind felt betrayed and refused to let him in. Now, after almost a year, he had been gently suggesting they pick up the pieces and move on. She listened stone-faced and only nodded. She didnt know what she wanted anymore.
Today was the day to let go. One year she had mourned her dead baby. Her creation. Wiped out before its time.But today, she felt her emptiness ebbing away. Rohan's face flashed before her, the lines hardened, the light in his eyes switched off. She'd dragged him into her suffering, and he had silently borne. Her unfairness glared at her and she shuddered. She could reclaim her life..their life, if she made tiny efforts. A little at a time. Small steps. Little gestures.
She got up with a purpose, wiping her eyes and breathing in deeply to drown back the tears that were threatening to spill out. Brownies. He loved those. She ordered two. To go,please, she added. She had no time to lose.