Posted by: rajagainstthemachine | December 1, 2010

Into my Arms

I looked down at the three month old, cradled in my arms. Her hands were delicate, curled up into little fists. She rested one hand on my chest. Her scalp soft, exuding warmth. Her face pressed against the nape of my neck. Her eyes, alert and full of love, looking over my shoulder, in a study of concentration.

Our apartment was calm, being our first effort at babysitting, we had turned the lights down low to a dim. Soft music – chants – exuded from the speaker on our window sill. She made little sounds – things unrecognizable to us, but that one day would become little words, phrases, sentences and then – stories. Maya’s story. I wondered whether I would be a part of it, or for how long. And if not, what memories I could leave, what little traces, to show her that I was there for her, with her, watching over her.

As the minutes passed, Maya’s words became more audible. Tired, but not able to rest, she grew more agitated. She formed her mouth into a small circle, her upper lip curled inward slightly, trembled just a little. Her eyes closed half-way as she began to cry.

It was a cry I had brought about a thousand times before. My Sister’s cry.

If I could take back every time I had wronged her, taunted her, tormented her, I would. Things I did, sometimes out of anger, and other times for my own entertainment. But they achieved nothing. I would clasp my hands around those moments and press them into my heart, absorbing them into me. And then, there would just be the cries that we shared, expressing our connectedness.  And there would be the laughter.

There would be two tricycles in a Delhi flat. The mango tree in my Grandparents yard in Bangalore. A spring mattress in a Sydney suburb that made for good trampolining. Old cassettes, now in a drawer in my bedside table, with our Mother singing to us, and us singing to her (cassettes that have travelled to four countries with me, but rarely played – did they survive the journey?). A bicycle, casting a silhouette against the moon, set against the night sky. Arriving in Varanasi on an early morning training, and finding a warm place to sleep until daybreak. Conversations late into the night in a London terrace. There would goodbyes at Heathrow Airport, not knowing where my path headed. And At Last, Wedding Days in January sunshine.

I would clasp these things, precious things, in my hands, gently, and hold them to my heart. At every step, there was Priya – always. With a mischievous smile, and in her, goodness. And now, her child. A part of her – and us – in my arms.

I looked down at her, smiling. It was a familiar smile. A smile I had seen – a thousand times before.

I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you – into my arms.

Into my arms.

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