Present Day – 6 AM
I sit alone in my bedroom fidgeting with the TV remote. I wasn't interested in the colorful images flashing on the TV, yet my eyes remain glued to it. I was increasing and decreasing the volume without any reaction from my eyes or ears. The fan above me creaked and was soon to become my soul mate. I clutch the remote tight and sit still for a while. This could not be happening to me, I think. But yet, it was. My mind went back to the incident I had woken up to, today morning.
“I will not fight for custody. You can keep her.” My mother was yelling.
Sleepy eyed I got up from bed and looked at the green and pink clock on my adjacent wall. 5 am. What was this noise and why was mom yelling I couldn’t understand. The noise soon muffled but it had already ruined my sleep. I slowly walk up to my bathroom and splash cold water on my face. I rub a towel hard on my eyes, forcefully waking them up. It works, as I brush my teeth and walk out.
My dad too is up and I can see the frustration on his face and my mom is walking up and down the hall in her night suit talking on the phone. She’s crying, yelling and talking at the same time. I rub my wet hands on my track pants and slowly walk out.
“What happen dad? Why is mom upset?” I ask my father.
“Go to bed Maya. We shall talk later. It’s all fine.” He tries to placate me.
My mother sits down on the couch with a thud and starts howling. I run to her.
“Mom, what happened? Why are you crying?” I feel myself welling up.
She looks at my face and gives me a blank look.
“I’m sorry Maya, but I have to leave.” She whispers.
“What? Where are you going so early?” I scream.
“I’m leaving Maya. I cannot stay here anymore. I need to get out of here.” She starts to cry again.
“Why? What happened? What’s going on, dad?” I helplessly look at my father.
He looks away. My mother gets busy dialing numbers on the phone again.
“Mom please, tell me what happened. This is all so sudden. Tell me what happened.” I plead.
“Not your fault baby, but you have to stay with your father. I cannot afford to take you with me right now.” Mom says sternly amidst tears.
I walk to my father and look at him in the eye.
“Dad, did you do something? Why is mom leaving you? Tell me the truth.” My voice trembles.
“Let she leave Maya. That is the best for all of us.” He says devoid of any emotion.
I fall down on the floor and refuse to get up. My parents do not bother to check on me either. My father just walks back to his room and closes the door. I hear a car honk outside my house and my mother opens the door and runs towards it. I try to run behind her, but by the time I got to the gate, she had left. I watch in horror as the black car sped away in the morning dim light. Whose car was it I wondered and why had mom gone with them? As I close the main gate, I realize that there are many other questions that I need answers to now.
I walk into the house and suddenly feel everything is empty. The fishes in the aquarium are not splashing and my favorite marble red lava lamp stood still. The windows were still closed and I felt claustrophobic. My head was spinning and my body was giving up. I drag myself to the kitchen and grab a bottle of water from the fridge. I let the water flow through me and expect it to wake me up from this horrid dream. Nothing of that sort happens. I replace the bottle in the fridge and was about to close it, when something caught my eye.
A freshly baked cake, with pink and peach icing was neatly placed in the second rack of the fridge. The strawberries on the icing were gleaming under the faint light of the fridge. I had asked mom to make this cake for me last week, but she did not have the time then. She must have made it last night I thought. Probably she had planned to leave today, after all. I close the door and walk out of the kitchen.
I hear no sound from dad’s room and I stop at his door. I wait for two minutes and then decide against knocking and walk back to my room. I look at the unmade bed and dull light seeping in through the curtains of the window. I look at the white walls and the posters on it and my guitar nestled against my gigantic book shelf. Yes, this was my room and I was no longer in a dream. Almost shivering and scared to be alone, I switch on the TV and walk to my bed with the remote.
Mom had left. It was really hard for me to believe it. So, I too had joined the ranks of the children from broken homes. I shed a lone tear. Twenty years of my existence flashed in front of me. The happy smiles of mom and dad, the pride on their face when I received my first award, the love that they shared…. The thought stopped at that. Did they even love each other? If yes, then why did mom leave? They seemed happy to me, all the time. Was it all a pretense? Was I that blind that I couldn't notice anything amiss? I was angry with myself.
The shiny images of the item song on the TV were troubling me now as I felt weak in my head and body. I clutched the remote tight and leaned against my pillow trying to sit steady. It was not helping. Life did not seem worthwhile anymore and I could already hear my friends mocking me, when they come to know that my parents had separated. They will get separated, wont they? There will be no custody battle as I remember my mom saying that I would now stay with my father. Was I that bad a daughter to mom? Did she leave because of me?
My head spun and before I could think I walk up to my closet and grab a scarf and wrap it around my neck and place a stool on my bed to wrap the other corner around the fan.
To be continued.