What are the things that haunt us? Spirits, ghosts, and unfulfilled souls. But there are others. Cocooned in the dark recesses of our hearts and minds, they influence our lives and activities. Our thoughts and memories, our fears and losses, our guilt and regret, are all ghosts, haunting us.
I’ve been rambling which I tend to nowadays. Nikhil says it’s expected after my loss. We have come to Lonavala in the monsoons, among these verdant hills playing hide and seek with the pregnant clouds, to recover. Sadly, the precipitous weather weighs me down. The swirling mists and the dark clouds cover the house in melancholy and cast shadows where none should be. There is one especially dark corner above my bed, inky and nebulous. If I stare at it long enough, I can visualize two eyes, upside-down, glaring at me. Nikhil maintains it’s my subconscious telling me I need to grieve.
He fails to understand that we grieve our losses when we consider them a loss. The still-birth of our son wasn’t a loss but a relief. You look at me with disgust and revulsion. But it’s the God-honest truth, and doesn’t the truth set you free?
The news of my unexpected pregnancy turned my life upside down. For a fashion model in the prime of her career, it was suicide. Abortion wasn’t an option as I realized about the thing growing in my belly too late. Like a virus, it made me sick. The pregnancy was difficult, morning sickness extending beyond evenings, and anemia resulting in a body bloated to fit two of me. How I waited for the sentence of nine months to be over!
The sentence was served but my punishment wasn’t over. I remember the nurse holding the baby upside-down, blue as Krishna and as stubborn, desperately coaxing it to breathe. He didn’t breathe or cry. We did. This wasn’t the beautiful baby I had imagined. I refused to hold him, love him, or shed tears for him before he was taken away.
Did my lack of love and motherly instincts make him leave?
Nikhil advocates rest invariably. Lying here on the bed, I dissect the strange shadow right above me. The inky blackness has molded into a faintly discernible human shape gradually during all the resting I have done in the past few weeks. A child hanging upside-down, eyes full of remonstrations. It is my baby, come to accuse, to judge, to condemn me.
I cannot take my eyes off the pulsating darkness which has started descending. Down and stop. Down and stop. Two of the four limbs moving in tandem one after the other. Terror seizes my heart. I can’t face those eyes! I’ve to get rid of the shadows, somehow, anyhow.
The lights are on. I need more. I know. Fire! The lace curtains are aflame within minutes. The flames lap up the shadows greedily and I rejoice, unaware that the darkness is within, not without, in the dark corners of my mind.
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