I reached the station an hour before the train was due to arrive. I knew I was early, but I had nowhere else to go. Exhausted, I sat on a bench. The stench of overcooked oil, sweat and garbage permeated the air. Crowds milled around. Distorted announcements from the loudspeaker added to the sensory overload.
I felt adrift, alone.
A dull throbbing in the head warned me of an impending migraine. I decided to pre-emptively ward it off by having a pain relief medicine. As I reached into my handbag to take out a bottle of water, my fingers brushed against a piece of paper. Puzzled, I took it.
On a white A4 printer paper were the words, Don’t Leave!
The crowds, the noise, and the heat receded as I read the words. I traced the wobbly alphabets with trembling fingers as tears threatened to spill. I remembered the softness of his skin and the innocence of his love. His laughter, his sparkling eyes announcing his mischievous nature. His baby fragrance tickling my nose as I patiently guided his fingers, teaching him to write. And now, he, all by himself, had written a message for me. A message that I longed to follow but was not free to do so.
I brought the paper close to my nose, hoping his fragrance might have seeped into the paper. But all I got was a whiff of the crayons he had used. Once again, my heart broke.
The toot of an engine broke my revere. Slowly I folded the paper and kept it back in the bag. With a clang, the train stopped at the platform. Slinging my handbag, I stood up. The words of the note whirled in my head.
I could almost hear his plaintive tone, begging. I wanted to go back. To hug him, to give him all the love in my heart. My feet hesitated. But just as swiftly, I recalled words spoken by another. Bitter, accusing, they had ripped apart my world. The only way to save me from the accusations was to get on a train and go far away from him.
Even though my heart did not want to, I picked up my suitcase and got on the train, never to return.
The note would stay in my handbag for the next forty years as I went from household to household taking care of young children. Whenever I started getting attached to any of my wards, I would read the note. The first rule of being a nanny was never to forget that your wards were not your own. Not to love the children so much that the mother starts feeling threatened. A mother, scared of her child loving an employee more than her, can do anything. Even accuse an innocent of grievous crimes.
With him, I had forgotten this rule and had paid the price. The note became a constant reminder to me that I was alone, childless.
Connect with Penmancy:
Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!