• Sarthak Das

Cyanides

“Ring-a-ring-a-rosies

A pocket full of posies

A tissue, a tissue

We all fell down.”


Swathi looked at Ritam. “We all fall down, Ritam.”

Ritam smiled sheepishly, “Sorry ma'am.”


Swathi's eyes turned now towards Tridha. The little girl was here, and yet, miles away.

Somewhere between heaven and earth. Between past and present. And yet, nowhere at

all. Swathi sighed. She knows Tridha will not forget. Ever. She did try her best, though. At

times it is quite a burden, raising a child. Even more so, when you're a single mother.


Particularly when you were never supposed to be.


Particularly when you loved him so much and he loved you so much too. You wonder, then,

what went wrong and at what point. But that was not the concern.


Maazi ko maazi bann jaane do. Let the past become the past. Move on. He used to say that

at times. When the night was quarter a bottle he would write poetry.


We met like nothing when the heavens

were a tinge of blackness and light

came slowly, percolating into the consciousness

of my body. We met like death wasjust

a centimetre away from the abyss where our

eyes were engraved like tombstones

that emptied into riverbeds year after year

after year.


She remembers the words so succinctly. He was very fond of Ijaazat and Libaas. He would

always watch them when he was drunk. Occasionally she would hear him cry in the

washroom. Outside, of course, he was a macho man. Macho men don't cry.


When the night was half a bottle he would call her a whore for nothing.


Of course, he would never apologise, not even when sober. When do men ever apologise?

Talking divorce with this man would never be easy. Things are seldom easy when one of

you is drunk and the other is a parasite. Or at least that is what he would call you.

Is it wrong to seek comfort in a good friend, female or not? Especially when things at home

aren't much of a relief? One would say so. Swathi examined the scars on her wrist. When

the night was an entire bottle he would write scars on her skin. Sometimes with

fingernails. Sometimes not.


Swathi shivered a bit as fragments of nights came back to her.

And here I am, dissected into dust and fire and nectar and ashes.

He would write further into his journal. She would smile at him. He would walk towards

her and kiss her on the cheek.

And one dawn, just like that, he was gone. Of course, many a night he would threaten

departure.

But to actually leave is a different story.


God, bring me cyanides tonight

as panacea for your pain.


The bottle of alcohol was on the shelf top when he left – the bottle of phenyl a carcass long

gone.

Tridha walked up to Swathi.

She never imagined repentance would come in such a manner. She never imagined she

would open the door to find him greeting her with a kiss on her feet.

“Ma I love you.” She gently whispered in her ears.

“I am sorry” was all she found in his pocket. No alcohol. Nothing else.


Swathi looked into her daughter’s eyes. “When we are at the playschool, it's ma'am, Tri,

not Ma.” She tells her at times. Not today. Perhaps some mistakes are too beautiful to

count as sin. Perhaps…


Swathi smiled. “I love you too, Tri. So very much.”


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