Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day 10: Setting Sun

(To know more about this Duet, click here. We have switched and now I am writing first, Rukmini doing art in response.) 

Art & Words Duet: Day 10 
The Return 
Part Two - Setting Sun
(Note: this piece is fiction)

India was a trip. Literally and figuratively. Thirty-seven hours of travel over land, air, and the craziest backroads I could have ever imagined. By the time we reached our room in the village of Mayapur, I felt like I had just been in a washing machine and roller coaster combined. For 37 hours. And India itself, with its phantasmagoria of colors, sounds, and scents, seemed to leave me dizzy.

Then there was my dad. He needed to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. Strange. Every moment sitting in a taxi, plane, and rickshaw seat, even running to catch a connecting flight, my mind was on my father. I didn't know that kind of absorption was possible. I had never seen him look so weak. My mind kept replaying like a broken record back to that moment in the apartment when my dad told me, "We need to go, honey."

Go? Go where? To this strange country? For God's sake why?

Our first morning in India, two guests came to see my father. One was from China and spoke broken English - his face was wizened and his eyes sharp. The other was from Los Angeles, an old buddy who used to work with my dad. With each visitor I was at my dad's shoulder and observed the conversations.

The rest of the day I knocked out with jetlag.

The following days were a blur of a river of visitors. The flow was increasing with each day. Bengali villagers who spoke not a lick of English, wizened American Hare Krishna monks who wore flowing orange robes, and quite a few Chinese people - I guess my dad had done some outreach in China.

My dad began to shrink in size, becoming skin and bones. I barely left the apartment. My usual fire of curiosity to explore was extinguished and inside I felt like a cold fireplace. I was exhausted.

One day, my mom gently ushered me to come with her to the rooftop of our apartment building. We watched the sun set in silence, she stroking my arm the entire time. The river Ganga flowed off in the distance gleaming orange and pink in the evening. The last slice of orange slipped below the water of the Ganga. I reached up to brush my hair away from my face and felt that my face was wet. Then I sobbed in my mother's arms. The tears seemed bottomless, and when I went to bed that night I felt completely emptied out and exhausted and also strangely clean.

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