says love is a beautiful thing. It makes you free and takes
you to the stars. Ammu says love hurts. It takes you down
to the worst pits of hell, and makes you want to kill yourself.
wonder what love meant to my parents. They got divorced
two years ago. Ammu made her big announcement to me one
rainy day in April… We are in my college room. She
is visiting me and sits perched on top of my bed, with her
white-and-blue jamdani sari contrasting the bright-yellow-and-red
patchwork quilt haphazardly thrown on my bed. I sit at the
computer writing a paper for a class.
typing gets faster and my mother strains to be heard above
the loud clickety-click noises. She is talking about her
life: how unhappy she is, how she wanted more, expected
more. I half listen. “How is Abbu,” I interrupt her.
“I am leaving him. We are getting divorced”.
words bump into each other like two people looking anywhere
but where they are going, the letters of each word slowly
entwining themselves into each other.
I stop typing mid sentence.
I turn around, finally facing her, my mouth dry. (Did
I expect this? was I subconsciously waiting for this day?)
I'll never know. I cannot remember. "Divorced? But
you're married to him.” (What is it about shock that
makes people so stupid?)
“I have to leave. I need my own life.”
look at her for a long time, not knowing her. Seeing her,
for the first time as another, instead of just plain old
Ammu: always on my back, always upset about something, always
pushing, always loving, always there. She is someone else,
not Ammu, but a teary eyed stranger in a blue and white
jamdani sari. She is silent. (She wants her own life
“I don't understand…” (Dumbfounded takes on a new
She says nothing still and I just want to shake her. (EXPLAIN
THIS TO ME!)
refuses to look at me, and I refuse to say the words thumping
around in my head. They remain there, to this day. Words
I have never had the guts to say to her face. She stays
on my bed, tracing the pattern of the patchwork on my quilt.
(Don't touch my stuff. You don't have a right.)
I want to say it, but I am silent. I watch her. Outside
my door I hear my friends talking up their usual storm,
with the usual funny anecdotes about their classes. Normally
I would be out there too, but not today. The sound of cars
and distant laughter creep in with a cool breeze through
the small crack of my open window. Papers on my bed rustle.
(How can something so big happen, and the rest of the
world be so unaware?) My mind can't stop the bitter
thought from rolling around in my head.
train will be here soon, we should go.” I look around to
see whose voice that is. I didn't recognise it as mine.
There is something in it I can't see as mine. The hardness
maybe, the coldness.
doesn't look up still. I know she wants me to ask her to
stay. I ignore the thought and get her bag.
walk her to the train station speechless. Stone-cold-rain
washes up on my sneakered feet -- my love-worn Pumas. The
blue-gray suede becomes dark and gloomy… misty and cloudy.
The bottom of my jeans stain a dark blue as I sludge through
the little puddles that the rain has made. “April showers
bring May flowers.” Isn't it amazing that when something
hurts, you concentrate on the smallest things, like the
chewed up gum on the rotten bench that my mom and I sit
on waiting for the Amtrak train home from Boston to Virginia
-- to the house she shared with my father for the last thirty
years. “Juicyfruit, the taste is gonna move ya.”
mom, frightened by my silence, asks me the obvious, “Are
you upset? Have I upset you? I love you.” (I don't care!)
My words choke inside of my throat almost spilling out of
my mouth like a shaken bottle of coke. I want to scream
at her, but I can't. How can I yell at her with her guilt
so openly staining her face, like a bad ink leak? My mom's
face: soft, malleable, pliable, like herself. Ammu. Her
smile, my smile. Her eyes, my eyes. She looks me in the
face finally begging for understanding, begging for forgiveness.
Her eyes, (my eyes) shiny with tears. (How
do you stay mad at yourself?) The train pulls in, like
a distant dream. She grabs me suddenly and hugs me, almost
choking me. “I love you, I am always here. Nothing will
change that” (Liar). But I smile, because it is
her smile. I struggle for normalcy. “Call me when you get
in.” She tries to gage my reaction but I have already made
my eyes vacant. I have already clouded my eyes with emptiness.
I am already acting for the final scene, for the good-bye,
just for her benefit.
walk back to the dorm is a blur of tears. People walking
by stare but I don't care. I slump back into the hall crying.
The stories and the laughter stop, replaced by a thousand
“What happened?” but I don't have words for them today.
My irrational hurt makes me unreasonable. The inner battle
of my mind is driving me crazy. I cant stop thinking about
how sad I am, but at the same time, I hate myself for being
so upset, for allowing myself to feel this much irrational
pain, for thinking that my hurt makes me special. (Get
over it, this happens all the time to thousands of people.
You are not a victim).
my friends take turns coming into my room, “hey, wanna go
to dinner?” “It'll make you feel better to get it all out…”
“If you ever need to talk…” I shake my head, no to all of
them. Rejecting them the way I feel rejected. By what, I
don't know…maybe the concept of family, the concept of love,
the concept of marriage, and parents as a unit. Years later
I can still feel the sudden dampness of the room, the ugly
hand of reality stifling my carefree youth, irrationality
taking place of reason.
sun sets with a sigh. I watch the sky turn purply-pink marveling
at how such a beautiful horizon can run hand in hand with
such ugly feelings… like old friends. My friends go back
to their lives. The hall outside is quiet, as if it too,
has given up on me. I remain in my room -- a silent bomb
waiting to lose my mind.
get off my bed and look around for something, anything to
distract me from what I'm feeling right now. I pick up the
phone to call my friend and tell her the news. A wave of
tears threatens to overcome me and I put the phone down.
(I can't. Not right now. Not today…)
didn't tell my best friend until two months later. To this
day I still cannot explain what made me wait so long. She
never said anything about it though. Thankfully she realised
that I just needed to tell her in my own time.
spent the rest of my evening in my room, watching the day
turn into night, suffocated by the loneliness I created
for myself. Everyone in my hall was weary of me and kept
their distance, leaving me alone with my deafening silence
and overbearing shadows. I fell asleep with the smell of
the April rains seeping through the walls and the shower
of teardrops it left on my window.