Strange are the twists and turns of life. Here the protagonist of Anumita’s story finds herself caught in layers of whirlwinds, of storms raging within her. She blanks out and moves mechanically. A deep tragedy manifests in strange ways. The protagonist finds that endings often contain beginnings too. A soulful short story for Different Truths.
Walking past the blue boat tilled on the sand, my hand dragged along the helm. My feet sunk into the warm sand, and I could not feel the tingle. The glow of the setting sun was steady and the beach was less crowded. I could see the gulls but could not hear their screech. In fact, I could not hear anything. As if the world was robbed of sound. Wiped clean of feelings, and turned bland.
Few more steps and my feet buckled and I sat down. A slow crawl of the wave tried hard and surrounded my sitting place. I could not feel the tug of the water as it receded. I felt nothing. Pulling my knees up, I placed my forehead on them. I was an empty shell. Time had dug out my essence out of me.
“Help, help,” I knew my heart was crying. But this was a different pain. The sound was coming from outside me.
Looking up my eyes could not focus, I blinked. There on the beach few feet away was a child.
Reality came crashing. This kid needs help.
Crawling up I tried to run and call out, “Are you ok?”
“Please, someone help, someone is hurt,” my voice sounded like the shrieking seagulls.
I fell on my knees at the little boy, his body was a heap. I touched his hair and a feeble, “help,” came out.
Few people had gathered and were calling in the paramedic.
In minutes, the air was filled with wail of sirens. I remained beside the little soul, as they lifted him on to the stretcher. The paramedic kept asking me questions, and I looked at him and could not say anything.
As they were lifting the stretcher into the ambulance my hand felt a tug. I looked, and found the boy holding on to my hand. His eyes were looking at me, half closed, beseeching me not to leave him.
As if in a trance, I got into the ambulance and sat beside him. The paramedic said, “Lady, you have got a bad gash on your arm.” Looking down I watched as the dried and washed strain of blood on my side of my arm, above my wrist.
I did not feel it.
The ambulance stopped, we were at the hospital.
The craziness in the hospital dazed me, but the little boy would not let go my hand. I stood there as a frenzy of the doctors and nurses buzzed around.
After some time, a nurse taped me on the shoulder and pointed to the wound on my arm. She smiled and said, “He is asleep now, and his family has been notified. You should come here, so that I can have a look at that gash.”
Pulling my hand out of the little boy’s grip, a sudden feeling of loss flooded me. Pain shot out from every part of my body and I felt like a storm hitting me. I opened my mouth to call and all turned black.
My head was throbbing, no my arm was throbbing, no my toes were throbbing. I was throbbing all over. As if every vein in my body was crying. I pried my eyes and white walls greeted my vision.
“She is awake,” the nurse whispered. I looked at her. She had the kindest eyes.
“How are feeling darling?”
Was she talking to me?
I did not know what and how I was feeling.
You need to be more careful, and eat and drink a lot of water now.
What was she talking about?
“Your neighbour is here to take you home.”
In walked a man in a striped shirt. I know him. He is Ron. He had a small smile at the corner of his lips.
Focusing on him, I asked, “What happened to me? Why am I here?”
I sat up quickly and as if the movement brought the rush of memories. My mind rushed back to the morning.
It was a beautiful day and the mail man came early. I walked down my driveway, expecting a letter from him. He said he would be back from the Afghanistan deployment, next week. We had made plans to have a holiday, our real honeymoon. After our wedding, we hardly got few days. And now we will have time to us, for us, and only us.
My footsteps froze halfway into the driveway. The waves of the sea behind our house seemed to have stopped. The sky seemed to lose its colour, as few uniformed men walked towards me.
No, no, my mind screamed…no, this cannot be happening.
They have come to the wrong house for sure.
I did not want to hear it.
“I am sorry….”
The rest I could not hear.
My legs could not hold me anymore.
Then there was Ron from the lawn across my house. He saw me, and threw the hose he was using to water his plants. He ran and caught me as I was about to fall.
Then what happened…
I was in the sand…
How did I get there?
There was this… boy…he was… oh my, I remembered.
“How is the little boy?”
The nurse smiled, “He is doing good. He is with this family now.” She handed me a folder. It had my name on it. I opened it.
This cannot be true. But it had my name on it.
I looked at it.
I looked at the nurse.
I looked at Ron, and he nodded and said, “I will drop you home, and will call your sister to come over. You will need someone with you now.”
Sitting in the car I kept my eyes out of the window.
How can a day turn into so many things?
Reaching home, Ron opened the door. I walked in and sat down. Ron picked up the phone; I shook my head and said, “Please do not call anyone now. I will call when I am ready.”
“I would like to be alone. I am fine.”
Ron nodded and moved towards the door. He left.
I picked up the folder. Read it.
I touched my belly. It throbbed. He was gone – yet he lives in me, now…
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Pix from Net.