She says she wants to write a story on our loss.
She expects me to say something. I refuse to respond.
I take out a white wax strip from the new packet and check for the smoother side. I dip the silver knife in the hot golden wax tin and apply a smooth layer of hot wax on her naked right calf as she sits comfortably on her black leather couch.
While I sit on the floor, her right foot rests on my folded thighs; she clasps my shoulders and closes her eyes. I suggest her to hold her meaty leg instead.
She thinks I’m offended by her question.
Her deer eyes squeeze as I strongly pull the white turned golden strip towards myself. She wriggles at the pull of her hair.
Hairless. Loose. Soft.
I apply another layer of wax; she says it’s too hot; I tell her that she has too much hair to be pulled out. She sits quietly hearing this. As I bring the knife closer, she again clutches my shoulders with a tight grip of her slender fingers.Only when I stare at her, she shifts them quickly to holding the thick skin of her leg. She closes her eyes and drops a tear as I pull another strip of her dark, dull hair.
I brush my fingers against her knee and it seems smooth. I tell her that she should get her legs waxed much before and that it’s a hassle to pull out hair at a later stage. She says okay. What a stupid girl! I think.
I take my fees of Rs 350 and repent giving her a discount of Rs10. She seems apologetic as I leave. I prefer to let it go.
…… …… ……….
I ponder upon how she would write a story on my loss?
In fact, what could anybody write anything on Jai’s death?
She’ll write that he was swallowed by the Arabian Sea on the cursed monsoon morning of Mumbai in 2002? Or maybe she would start her article by talking about his missing eyes and half eaten ear as his body came ashore at 11 pm. Will she call us lucky for we found his body the same night or for only his almond eyes and the other half of his ear were missing? Or would our loss be about how a mother lost her 12-year-old son who lied to her, went to the sea and hugged death?
Tonight, again, these thoughts chase away my sleep. I burrow my head in the warm quilt on one of these mildly cold December nights. My eyes, burdened with the flashes of that day, hesitate to shut. A familiar thought crosses my mind and starts to grow stronger in my conscience. What if I hadn’t allowed him to leave the house at all? Was I a reckless mother?
His father says Jai was needed much more in heaven than here. I cry hearing this. He hugs me.
Sometimes I ponder upon how I don’t own the soul of my 12-year-old anymore and how I don’t know of where it went. I’m perplexed when I come to terms with the fact that he’ll never be back. Never. Never. Even after I die or when the world finishes or another universe is formed; there wouldn’t be another Jai. His grandmother says if I think so much, I’ll end up being consumed by his death. And to avoid dying by thinking about the sudden departure of my only kid, I’m told to die normally. Normally- by Tuberculosis or after being hit by a truck or anything else, but normally. And to delay the arrival of my death because of his death, I am suggested to start my work as a beautician, the only thing I know and perhaps the right way to help his father who has been struggling with our financial crisis since forever. I had told Jai that we won’t be able to fund his education till long and that he’ll have to take up some sort of work very soon. He never replied to this.
Other times I think that it’s good that he’s gone. Maybe God found a better family for him and maybe a sensible mother who’d stop him from being at the beach or a responsible father who’ll be able to be with him while he is at the beach.
I’ll never forget how he came to us that night- to my arms – floating in his death! I screamed as his fingertips touched the skin beneath my saari. That was the only time I looked at his half eaten face. I don’t know how he was brought home and who covered his half open jaw and who stitched the torn skin of his stomach. I just know that he didn’t tell that he was visiting the beach and that this body could not be his.
She says she’ll compose a story on my loss. What all will she transcribe? How will any expression describe what I feel right now? Is there a definition to describe the sudden churning in my stomach and my nauseated mind as I realise that I won’t wake up to him tomorrow morning? And which words will explain my emptiness and sorrow? Doesn’t she know that no alphabet reduces my pain or that none of them cushion his death?
That’s why I choose to just smirk.
My mouth dries up and my intestines feel a strong twist. My vision blurs and my ears hear the howls of that night.
And that’s why I always choose to just smirk.