After daddy died I didn’t want to return to my work base.
I remember sitting outside the airport, with my sister and her boyfriend who had gone to see me off, wearing my worst lost puppy face, till it was time for check in. This was a Sunday; when I reached, the only ticket available was for a flight a good four to five hours later.
So we sat there, whiling the interval talking insignificantly. My face kept drawing longer. I didn’t know what I was so sorry leaving behind. Whatever it was, was strong enough to surface on my skin and invade nonchalance. If I didn’t have escorts, I might have turned back home for that extra day of clutching the safety blanket.
It was like losing a favourite toy on a street. You go back and forth through those cobbled pavements, ignoring the crowds, taking slow deliberate steps, eyes intent on the ground, anxious till you find it.
Anxious, till you are sure you never will.
Then an elaborate ritual of self-counseling begins, futile lessons in consolations and accepting the inevitable. I hadn’t reached that state yet. Unmindfully, I was trying to cling onto a building and a map, hoping like a helpless child, to find what I had lost.
I remember my sister offering some comforting words and caressing my face gently when it was time for me to get up and get inside.
Delhi was cold, like every winter.
On the second night of my return I accosted my manager in the parking lot, swallowed my unease and asked for a transfer. In the semi darkness I watched her dusky skin grow darker. Her twinkling eyes turned somber.
“Let’s see what I can do,” she said noncommittal.
I hadn’t expected her to warm to the idea. Or be able to sanguinely arrange for the corporate process to fall in sync with my yearnings. She would have to talk to her line manager, the person who had hired me. He I had promised I would stick on for a while and many times profused with gratitude for getting me onboard. I knew how disgustingly unprofessional such a request would make me appear.
But I had to go home.
I hated to think what the consequence of the system failing to get me a transfer would result in: unemployment. It would be better to return with the job, but I would return at the cost of it. What was to be the derived or sorted by such a decision I had no clue.
I couldn’t look past that pull, not up to reasoning with myself. Those that know me as well as myself would know me for what I am, strongly emotion driven. It is a birth defect, and also the reservoir of my strength. My brain gets tripped by breezes I cannot begin to try to define. It fogs my reason and analytical prowess to zero visibility in moments such as I was passing at the time.
“Patience, girl,” I told myself. Even if something was meant to happen, it wouldn’t be overnight.
So I stayed put, toiling as best I could, training batches, laughing and talking to team members, going through my work life like a badly programmed robot. Sometimes I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed in the cold, devoid of reason, so I began to skip showing my face at office. When my company seemed unbearable, unable to tolerate my changing histories, I would wash up at office near midnight-s, sit in the VnA room mercifully devoid of colleagues, staring at a screen unfeeling the hours skip away. Close to dawn, I’d switch off the lights, park myself by the window and watch the black exterior slowly ashen to dawn, yet another.
I had flown home to receive a dead body one such dawn, sleepless since ten the night before, in a room plunged in Gurgaon’s infamous load sheddings, packed a single small carry case in mobile torch light, talked to a lot of kind strangers, made it through two airports in haze, teared unabashed when the sun came up against the clouds outside my window, been stared at by the airhostess. I was being gnawed hollow inside, not having been there to raise a finger when he was having trouble breathing his last, not being there to hold his hand as he made his difficult passage. Not being around, not doing a thing. I never said my Goodbye.
I tried to find thoughts every dawn after, not finding in me a word, no thought. I would sit hugging a glass wall, till the earliest colleague would come in and put me out of misery.
Soon, the act of normalcy made no sense. Urgencies began to slip from me.
It was one night in my crammy room, for a short subconscious patch, that I had a dream.
It was dark. I remember seeing a sky grey and cloudy.
I was at a crossroad and daddy was standing in front of me. As was my practiced instinct for years, I didn’t say a word to him. I turned my back.
Instantly my brain said, “Now wait a minute. You are not meant to be seeing him. He is no longer there.”
Shocked, I turned around. Daddy was not there. I was staring at an empty crossroad, overcast with a black-blue-grey sky.
Waking, I understood - that was the breath my brain had accepted the inevitable. I also fathomed, an euphoric comprehension setting in, I could conjure him up any time I wished in my dreams. I could see him whenever I wanted to. He was not gone from me, merely from this sense defined earth.
I had no chance to say goodbye. I no longer needed to.