• Rashmi Navada

The Savior

The headache is blinding.


I clutch few tufts of hair and pull them in frustration. The brain takes a break from hammering my skull. So I repeat the action over the base of my skull and at the temples. Ahh! What a relief.

If I continue like this, I might soon have some bald patches. Stymied, I bang the fists on the table, almost sending the laptop flying to kiss the floor.

The tears of frustration roll down my plump cheeks. It has been six months since I lost my parents to Covid. Six months since I have set foot outside the house.

I have not opened the door to relatives, neighbors, or well-wishers. Except for the food delivery guys.

I have had enough of this world. I want to die. If being an only child was not bad enough, now I am an orphan too. Low self-esteem stemming from vitiligo had made me an introvert. I had no friends I could talk to.

You need company and not death.”

With suicide, your soul has no moksha. If you decide to end your life before it’s time, you will return to the same world in the next birth. Sort of negates the purpose.”

Damn! I had forgotten about Moksha and Mukti altogether. My subconscious was right. The first step is to get out of the house.

***

I prepare myself mentally the whole morning. That evening, I take a deep breath and step out of the house. I walk to the beach and look around. Satisfied at not finding anyone I know, I sit on the sand, cross-legged. I am not in the mood for idle conversations or looks of pity.

I am so engrossed at the sunset that I don’t notice someone sitting beside me until a foul smell wafts to my nose.

I turn to the side and almost yelp in surprise. I shift a few places instinctively.

We both stare at each other. Sizing each other up. He had seen better days.

“Hi, I am Naina.” I stretch my hand tentatively for a shake. He returns the shake with a smile. I think.

We both sit in comfortable silence and watch the sunset.

“Bye,” I say and walk back home. He doesn’t utter a word. I wonder if he is dumb. I turn back to see him still sitting in the same place.

The next morning, I admire myself looking at the mirror. I brush my hands over the hips and tummy. I bring my face closer to the mirror and smile.

No, you haven’t lost weight. You definitely look better, but not like your old days. You can’t change overnight. Well, not unless you go under the knife.”

I show the middle finger to my inner-self. Feeling much better, I get started with writing. I am a blogger and have been away from writing for months. It’s time to get back to action.

That evening too, I end up at the beach.

I find him in the same spot. We watch the sunset together again.

***

It’s been exactly a month since we met. I trust him enough to bear my heart out to him- my fears, my anxiety, my loss, and my regrets. He is a good listener.

That night I come down with sore throat and cold. I self-medicate, hope, and pray it is not Covid. A self-test couple of days later confirms it is not. With a relief, I set out to the market.

I smell him even before I see him. I am so happy that I want to hug him tight but stop short. He looks grim. But that doesn’t stop me from giving him my widest smile. He follows me back home. I don’t invite him in. I think it is too soon.

That evening, I set off to the beach. I plop myself beside him. He ignores me.

“I was not keeping well.” I explain my absence to him. We watch the sunset together.

He follows me again to my house. Without second-guessing, I invite him in and offer him milk and food. I set a bed in the foyer.

What he needs is bath, not food or drink.”

I feel restless that night. I never have had a stranger sleep at the house before. But I know he would do me no harm. In the morning, I find him sleeping at the foot of the bed. Hadn’t heard him moving in from the foyer.

How he knows I am awake, I do not know. He looks at me the same way my parents looked at me. With love. I walk to him and hug him tight. The smell is not a deterrent. He is shocked, but guess he has been waiting for this initiative all along. He gives a little whimper and hugs me right back.

I shoo him to the bath, scrub him clean and dry him. He is so smart looking. I beam in pride at him having chosen me.

“I am going to name you Dobby,” I say to him. He smiles and leaps at me. I hug him and we both roll over the floor, me giggling and he barking in joy.

“You saved me the same way Dobby saved Harry. I love you.” With tail wagging, he licks me all over the face and gives me a hug. Tears of love, if there is such a thing, fall down my slightly toned down cheeks. We both had found in each other what we had lost. Parents.



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