I press my face against the little one. He in his sleep, moves against me for the warmth. I press my cheek against his soft skin, and let the tears fall, for all the hurt that I hide, and all the strength I pretend, and all the sadness that overwhelms, every time I look at him and think of “him”.
She had stayed away from the house not wanting to cry all over again. The last time she walked in to get her scan copies off the shelf where he had left it, she had ended up weeping two weeks of withheld tears. She was not in a mood to weep, to feel suffocated, and then end up lying on their bed missing him. She was not going to go through it again.
Walking into the same house, yesterday she felt that she was a stronger being. His father’s speech of South Asian finger pointing to the woman when the man screws around had taught her that life had better things to worry about. He has told her that it was all her fault and that she should not have got pregnant. That good women did not fall into such situations and that what she was living was her fault. He had happily justified not having ever had her over, while his married son stayed at his house while his pregnant wife would be left home alone. The speech was enough to make her come to her senses, to make her see that she was living a life she had chosen out of righteous behaviour to do what is right by the world, and out of love for a man who has not thought twice before he left her when she needed him most by her side. Life was such and she had no more tears to shed for such.
She did not appreciate pity from anyone. She did not need it. She was just trying to make ends meet, to find enough cash to deliver the baby without begging from her in laws “rambutan” money which they seemed to count ten times before handing out. She did not want to curse her kid with the thoughts transferred to the cash when being handed over. One never knew what they muttered when they provided it, and she was not in a mood to go beg for any money from a man who called her a bad woman. Not for her, not for her son. Nor did she want anymore money from her parents, when they had done too much for her and had not being paid their debts. She knew she would earn it herself. Somehow, before the due date and before the baby would be willing to come out.
She could feel the baby move inside, kicking and churning, a happy little kid who would not know his dad. She felt sorry for him, when she thought of how he would wonder why his dad would not come to pick him, or drop him to school. She wondered what her son would say to his friends in school of his dad. She knew one day she would tell him the story of his dad, and why he was not there with them. She knew she would be his mum and dad both, and make sure he would not be sad. She knew it would be not an easy task, but she knew she would make it, on her own, and with her dignity intact.
Lying on the floor, at her parents’ living room she dreamt of her baby. The vocabulary had changed from “our” baby to “her” baby, and the entitlement has restricted itself. She always had thought it was their baby, that they would raise the child together, even when he had told her that he was with her, only for the kid and nothing else. But as of now, she had realised that hope for any commitment from those who do not grasp the concept of commitment had failed her too many times. She was not angry with him anymore for sleeping around, abandoning her and the kid, or even the lies he told, she was merely angry with herself for believing in redemption when he had proved incapable of such.
Her baby looked like his dad, in her dream. He had the same expression and the nose, though his eyes were unlike the dad’s. They were more like hers, and he seemed too bored to do anything. That she thought was expected. He had stopped acting hyper for a while since his dad had left, he kicked once in a while, and mostly moved from one end of her belly to another, like a huge lump who could not be bothered. She could feel him when she took her hand over her belly, in bumps across her skin, and occasionally could feel most probably his heart beat. She did not think her son would keep kicking over 40 times, unless he was fed up of being stuck inside and was trying to kick his mum a good deal to indicate to the stupid woman to let him out. A tantrum at a very young age, to be expected too, given the circumstances.
She was yet to outgrow her tears, but had started planning for her kid alone. She had decided on the little clothes that would fit him, the little things that he would need, a cot to be bought, and other things, though at times when looking at them she could feel tears roll down remembering them going through baby things together. But she did not see the point anymore, she did not see why she should sob thinking of a man who had left, and not bothered. Not bothered to check whether his son was alright, whether his wife was alright, whether the doctors’ appointments were met, and whether she had got her medical tests done. But at times she could not help herself, and was yet to gain the courage to forget it all.
It was like she was back to age of schooling, when her parents called up to check on her, to see if she had had her meals, or whether she was feeling alright, whether she had money, or whether she had work on that particular day. Things he had not done since marriage. He has not remembered that his wife waited for him to come home to have diner, and took his own time in getting home pass midnight, when she had out grown her hunger and gone to lie down, waiting to open the gates for her.
Her mum had made milk rice for her. She had remembered that her daughter never mentioned any cravings nor asked for anything. She just kept puking and working, and in the intervals crying over the failed marriage and a man who had told her that he loved another more than he loved her. She remembered how he had asked him to get her an ice cream one day to be refused because there was traffic at the Nugegoda junction. She had cried her way home, and then decided to never ask for anything. Not for ice cream nor anything else. She did not buy herself any clothes for a while, not till her belly really started showing and she could not fit into her pants, or her dresses. Then too she had waited till she had her money, to go pick two dresses that would help her survive the next two months of her pregnancy. Her dad had wanted to come with her, and wanted to buy her clothes, she was still her daughter, though she carried a kid of a man they did not see much value of, but she had refused, knowing that she had cost him enough and more with a wedding, a failed marriage, a house rented and everything else that was yet to come.
She did not want to think of the past, she wanted to move on, but pieces of her life kept flashing through, when least welcome. She remembered when she thought they were happy, and picked him over everything else, though he was throughout feeding her with lies and screwing the other. She tried not to think of those little moments of happiness that lingered, when the rest was all an illusion. She thought of her son who would now know his father.
People tell her she is strong, and that she is not stupid. Their words make no sense to her, at least not at this stage. Some ask her to rethink, to reconsider. Reconsider what? What was she to do? Was she to track him down in another land, to beg him to come back, and be with her and the baby, when he paid no heed to anything, or the birth of his son, and was adamant he did not want to try to make things work.
People ask her the typical question, what will you tell your son when he asks where his dad is? She has only one answer, and that is, that she would tell him the whole story of his dad and her, and how he left them and went away, and how he and her both meant not much, faced with his concern for his own happiness.
She looked at the house once she thought would be her home. A house full of memories for the short time they had spent in it. Though he had left, his presence there was felt, with shirts forgotten and other files he had spread around on the floor. She wanted herself not to cry, not to be weak, and not to give into that need for him to be there, but failed.
Her clothes fit into one bag, a green bag he used to take his clothes in when he went home to spend his off days leaving her behind. Folded and crammed in, she managed to fit it all in. Her books she had no strength to carry. She had only two hands and a belly that protruded and blocked her way at most times. Her life with him seemed a few months, a few cloths, a few books and a son left behind.
Their home never had time to become a home. At least looking back she felt that she might have lived an illusion. She believed he would be back, he would come and that they would be happy and their child would make them happy. A child they had decided to bring up and he had wanted to name “Moksha”. Her child he had decided to leave behind, and had made up his mind to not see.
It was late, but not too late to leave, to leave the place where she was not wanted, where tears clung onto her face too often with memories of a man, who made her happy when home, and then turned into a being she did not grasp the moment he stepped out of their house.
She wondered, how things would have been , had she liked a different type of music, had she read fantasy novels, and had she worn more revealing cloths with bigger earrings.. would he have meant his “I love yous”? would he have not cheated? Would their son have had a father and not just a mother who would have to work every moment to give him what he needs, without depending on the world for anything?
She closed the door behind her one last time, and walked down carrying her bag of clothes, hoping one day her son would make her proud, and become a better man where his father had failed.