Today we are honored to welcome a guest post by Mrittika. Mrittika is a former journalist, and is now a PhD student and researcher. She writes very rarely on screen and paper these days, but is always writing in her head. She and Som are Aahir and Raahi’s parents. Aahir is four years old. Raahi, born in April 2013, had jejunal atresia. After two surgeries and twelve weeks at the hospital, she came home healthy. She died in her sleep of unexplained reasons eight days after coming home. She would turn three months old two days later.
It is white. Just like a beginning, when one is building a home. Like a blank canvas. And just like when all colors have been neatly folded, and wrapped, and brought home, into this whole. The white of peace. It’s like this nature of ours is building a home, and it’s like she is done, too. It’s strange, how whole, and bare, white feels. The air within the flakes, the space between the grains in the mound, and then as all becomes leveled out in a sea of white, the hollow within its breast. Gently spaced out from each other, a cold air of nothingness hanging between them. As the white lands on the trees, and rests softly on them, there’s a gentle murmur in the branches. The weight of the white, the shifting of shape, the shuffle of wind, and the shifting again. The weight of the bare. The weight of the whole. The subtlety in the tree’s crevices, and the indisputable domination in mounds on the ground. The angularity in the branches, the leveling of the ground. The complete reshaping of a landscape, and yet so floating. The complete persistence of a night, and yet so fleeting. The complete reshaping, and the complete persistence. Just like death. The snow, like a white shroud.
It is a dip, a fall, they say. They measure temperature, something they have named to describe and explain the cold. Something many around the world even use to feel cold. They feel colder, when the temperature is lower. They feel toasty when the temperature is higher. They feel comfortable, shaky, warm, shivering, strong, weak, depending on what weather channels flash on their television, and on their mobile phones. They clean their driveway before it freezes, they light a fire and throw on a throw, and they layer more. The weather, the climate, the environment, the temperature. All the while white, and yet they seem to infuse so much meaning in it. They complain of too much snow, too low temperatures, too many cancellations, too much work shoveling. They feel too heavy, too dry, too angry, too bundled up, too backed up. Too uncertain, about road conditions, phone lines, heating, meetings. They feel too cold. This winter seems too long.
I don’t feel cold anymore. I step out in my corduroy jacket over a sleeveless t-shirt and pajamas and sandals onto the driveway, in what is supposed to be freezing temperatures. My hands are bare, my feet are bare, and I wait for my husband to buckle up our boy before I lean in and give him a kiss again, and tell him again to eat all his lunch. I then touch my husband’s hands, and kiss him. I tell him to drive safe. I then wait for him to start the car and heat it up a little bit. He waves at me to go inside. I don’t listen, and keep standing and smiling. My son waves at me, and they set off. I wait until they have driven two blocks, and turn, out of sight.
I keep standing, and then trudge back. I close the door behind me. The house is quiet, barren, whitewashed white. No playpen in the living room, no rocker. No infant cooing in her crib, eyeing the bright and gentle mobile. Every day, as I close the door behind me and stand at the foyer, I look at the vacuous space around, and think that I could step out only because she is not here. I am back, and she is not here. This is supposed to be my alone time with her. And this is my time alone. Without her.
As I stand there, there is a strange whiteness, in my heart. Her absence, the white of bare. And yet, she is so wholly a part of my life that the white, from all the imaginary colors of her life stacked together, blinds me. No, I did not get the pink of girly cuteness. No, not for me the green eyeshadow from mother-daughter makeup experiments in the middle of the night. No yellow sunny face when her grades came out, or her college acceptance letters were here. No black and grey of rebellious teenage years, or the red her cheeks would be the day she announced that the love of her life had proposed. No, I would not get to choose the purple of her wedding saree, or the golden of her jewelry.
I did not get to walk with her on the colored paths of life, and see how the seasons change. Instead, I have a long, cold, white winter with her, where all colors are heaped in a whole, a sublime and monolithic white in my heart. The whole in the hole. There is white all around in her absence, in the blankness in my life. And there is white deep within, in her permanence in my heart.
As I stand there in silence, I don’t feel cold. My hands are cold, and they often look shriveled, like they have shrunk in size. I have to constantly reach for the hand butter. My feet are cold, and in serious need of a pedicure. My legs, my perpetual trouble zone, are cold too, under the cotton pajamas. My neck, where I diplomatically yet unwillingly house my sore voice, must be cold, as should my ears, which no longer are sharp enough to hear falling snow, and yet are always hearing strange sounds around the empty house. They are all in place in this winter appearance of mine. But I am thinking for someone else, if they touched me now. They would feel cold I know. For me, I don’t feel it. I sense the white. I feel frozen, never to be thawed again. But I don’t feel cold anymore.
Do you associate your loss with any particular color? What in your sensations have changed since your loss? What feelings have you left behind? What new feelings have settled into your body?