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I.

Trains wake me at night.

It’s easy for me to wake up and these are heavy trains.
None of them carry people: they’re goods trains, the kind that
have no windows cut in their oblong sides.

Somebody wrote, Trains are relentless. (I always think of the things that happen to me as things somebody else wrote.)

I worry about this.
What if there are no new sorrows in the world?
What if somebody has used them all up?

Let’s count. There is the sorrow of
losing a child, and of a child losing a parent. Losing a child is the worse one, somebody said, because it breaks Death’s plan. The old go before the young.

I think about it for a while before moving on to the next sorrow. Losing
a lover, losing a friend. There must be sorrows that come with gaining,
but I do not know them yet.

II.

It is easy to fall in love with people when they are praying.
When they are doing anything with their hands but praying especially.
They trust that nothing bad will happen to them. Even Claudius — he prayed for his sins, didn’t he, when Hamlet found him. I think he was crying.
I think Hamlet didn’t kill him because he was crying.

They know this trick in Hindi movies. There is a particular gesture, a folding
of the hands — Papa, mujhe maaf karo — it hacks messily at your heart.
Please forgive me for loving someone I musn’t. Sometimes the papa forgives.In the end they always do.

I try to think of what the inverse of praying is. Everything has an inverse.
There must be a moment at which people are least lovable.

III.

I look at the bird’s nest on my box air-conditioner.
There is nothing left: nothing but straw since the mother left.
A calico cat ate her eggs. Ate them whole, pushed them into her mouth.
She must have felt the roundness of them, how they were warm…

I say to myself, It is no use worrying. Cats kill birds, and dogs kill
kittens. Nature is set in her ways.

I imagine Nature as a granny in an old-age home, the one who cheats at cards, and dribbles out the side of her mouth.
That’s just her, laugh the nurses, patting her on the back. She does these sorts of things. That’s her all over, isn’t it.

IV.

When you are looking back on a very sad time in your life,
you realise that no great events occurred.

You would have liked to say that you rolled from side to side on the floor.
Or that you took the scissors to the curtain, or your hair, or your wrists.
There is a vision of you in the clean future, telling strangers at afternoon parties, “Oh, I was terribly sad… I went a little crazy. It was very hot, you know, that summer, and there was nothing to do.”

But you did nothing at all. Paperboats stuck in a glass lake.
There was nothing to tell.

V.

Maybe you’re the first woman in your family to be sad. Don’t pretend
this thought never occurred to you.

Oh, they were sad, the women in your family. They had reason to be, I mean. But they got up and lit the candles in the morning for everybody else regardless.

Maybe you’re the first person who released the sadness from her lamp by speaking it aloud.

That is a shameful thought, isn’t it?

VI.

One of the hardest things about losing love is that you lose a language, too.
It is the kind of understanding that babies share in their dappled sandboxes
when they coo to each other. A nonsense joy.

Joy can also be a kind of sorrow. The wild kind, the one
that flies out of its home never to return, don’t you think that can be sad?

VII.

The inverse of love could be coldness. I write that down and look at it.
It is difficult to love someone when they are cold, I go on. If somebody
is cruel to you without being angry, it is a shocking act.
It breaks up the solid landmass of your soul and sends the pieces
drifting apart wayward under the stars.

I cross some of this out for being anguished. Anguished is not
a thing I want to be. I want to be cold myself, cold and severe and beautiful
in the way that men are when people are looking.

God knows how they are in private.
I’m a crier myself.

VIII.

I write down all of my dreams for a month and pore over them.
There is nothing here that is useful to me. Useful is a word I have
learnt recently. I want to build my life up again from the bones.

Once I read a book that asked me what I would take if I were
going to a desert island. I must take only what is useful. I thought
feverishly of sewing needles, hammers, a book, a cross, a spade,
things that I would not know how to use.

Come the apocalypse, I think, I will walk into the sea.
There is no path through water to the happy hunting ground.
No matter.

IX.

I lie awake in the night listening to the train.
“You know,” someone told me, “you’re not as good a person
as you think you are.”

It is the kind of thing
designed to hurt: a shovel taken to your soft insides. That, I think
is another sorrow I can add to my list. The cruelty
of a friend. I lie there and make two fists, waving them gently
against the dark. Perhaps, if I am lucky, I am grazing angels.

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