My last post was in January 2015 which is embarrassing. I’ve had painful reminders about my inertia. Statistics from WordPress, coaxing from friends and my inner voice chiding me regularly. It’s like not calling a friend for longer than one should have – you intend to, you think of her often but just don’t get around to picking up the phone. The longer it takes the weaker the resolve. Inertia very quickly turned to insecurity. Was everything I felt irrelevant? Everything I wanted to say inconsequential? I was emptied out. Did my last post take everything from me?
Perhaps, I’ve been too comfortable. My hypothesis (possibly flawed) and past experience is that a certain level of complexity is a prerequisite to passionate writing. The last year was spent in simple domestic bliss and a challenging yet successful year at work. I was too happy or too engaged with life to pause and ponder. Happiness has always made a guest appearance in my life. Short, sporadic bursts and then it was gone. Leaving only a gentle reminder of its presence and a desire to pursue it some more. So, for the first time I reveled in it. The generosity with which it came – I splashed around it in.
I light a lamp each night. I’m not religious but I have faith and the simple act of closing your eyes, and bowing your head in gratitude, the feeling of surrendering to something is in itself calming. Every night I thank the Lord and implore him not to snatch this away from me. I feared that this absolute happiness, this unadulterated contentment, the feeling that everything around is just right, was almost impossible. As I bit adieu to 2015 I was almost wary of what the next year would bring. Turns out I was right.
2016 got off on the wrong foot. In January, my sister was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. All of a sudden that happiness started dissipating. Our phone conversations were now cloaked with anxiety. Since I’m not yet a parent, I experienced first-hand that worrying is a full-time job and I was learning to cope with that feeling.
When I was younger I used to joke that my sister is my oxygen. She’s six years older than me and has raised me. Her priorities changed as she became a mother but I still hung on stubbornly to that notion. So this blow was hard on all of us and I was expected to bring comic relief to a weary household. To be a jester without a trick or a joke. I remember being in the kitchen with my mom and she asked me if I thought my sister would get better. Her naked worry stung me. We expect our parents to be teflon-tough not realizing that they too, have doubts, fears and worries which they hide from us.
When life deals you a bad hand occasionally, you reflect and ask existential questions about life, love and loss You also observe things that you’d otherwise have missed. There are two unrelated incidents that occurred and served as reminders that life must go on.
My husband and I had boarded a flight, on a sunny afternoon, hands linked to each other and as he sat on the aisle seat and I in the middle. An elderly gentleman showed up and claimed the window seat crushing my hope for an afternoon nap. As my husband pulled out his book and I reached for my Kindle, my neighbor bent his heavy frame and fished out the newspaper from the seat-pocket and as he started to read the tripe that passes for news, he settled on a page. Folding the paper indicating his full attention and interest. His eyes scanned the paper as mine studied him. He was reading the Obituary page. I wondered how it would feel, in my twilight years, much like him ,to be searching for friends and acquaintances in the pages of a newspaper?
Some months later, I had the flu and after several failed attempts at self-medication I went to a doctor. I took his prescription to a busy chemist and as I handed the piece of paper hoping he would have better luck understanding the illegible handwriting, I noticed a middle-aged woman walk up to the counter. She was from a humble background, her clothes and shoes had seen better days and she carried some medical reports in a worn-out yellow plastic bag. She gingerly took out the report and gave it to the assistant. He announced rather loudly that the injections would cost Rs.4500 each (approximately 66USD). She repeated the amount slowly, she didn’t look crestfallen as she calculated silently. I guess when an experience gets familiar, it fails to shock you. I was very tempted to jump to her aid and almost opened my mouth to offer her the money but the sales assistant returned with my order and asked me if he should give 12 pellets instead of 10. Yes, I replied hastily, and turned to look at her but all I saw was a receding figure, crossing the road.
Being helpless saddens and often angers me. But I realize I must not give up hope. Despite Trump. The soundless wheels of time are turning each day. Delivering pleasure, pain and prose. 10 months later, my sister’s health is stable and improving and I’m going to be a mother soon. 2016 draws to an end in burgeoning optimism.