Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rigor Mortis -- A story in many parts

Part V
(Go here for Parts I, II, III and IV)

Sandhya came home shell-shocked. Not that there wasn't an easy explanation. She knew that children sensed things faster than adults. That Maya must have sensed Ranjeeta's mood. That she must have caught her staring into the distance frequently. Or seen her eyes glaze. She must have wondered about Ranjeeta's vacant smile. Any one of those gestures that adults dismiss as moodiness or inconsistency or a plain lack of sociality. Maya must have known better.

But nothing explained the violence of her reactions. Or her willingness to transfer Ranjeeta's pain onto her fragile body. And involuntarily at that. Nothing explained her sensate body. For Sandhya who had learnt to separate mind from body, Maya's inability to watch out for herself was scary. She feared for her child.

After that however, Maya returned to her quiet self.

At six, she was an unusually precocious six year old. When she spoke, she did so in complete sentences. Many days, she did not speak at all. She nodded when asked if she was hungry and shook her head when Arun wondered aloud if she had done her homework. Sandhya wasn't sure if she had a rich inner life or just an unflappable countenance.

Arun and Maya shared a unique relationship though. He would come home from work and sit next to her at the dining table. She would not talk. He would. One by one, he would narrate the inner workings of his day. The desk he sat at, the people he met, the students who dropped into his office, the flowers blooming outside the university. And Maya listened to him and beamed for the half hour that her father let her into his life. For otherwise, Arun was a self-contained man. To his daughter and to his wife.