<%-- Page Title--%> Fiction <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 125 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

October 3, 2003

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April Rains

Saira G Khan

Ammu says love is a beautiful thing. It makes you free and takes you to the stars. Ammu says love hurts. It takes you down to the worst pits of hell, and makes you want to kill yourself.

I wonder what love meant to my parents. They got divorced two years ago. Ammu made her big announcement to me one rainy day in April… We are in my college room. She is visiting me and sits perched on top of my bed, with her white-and-blue jamdani sari contrasting the bright-yellow-and-red patchwork quilt haphazardly thrown on my bed. I sit at the computer writing a paper for a class.

My typing gets faster and my mother strains to be heard above the loud clickety-click noises. She is talking about her life: how unhappy she is, how she wanted more, expected more. I half listen. “How is Abbu,” I interrupt her.
“I am leaving him. We are getting divorced”.

Our words bump into each other like two people looking anywhere but where they are going, the letters of each word slowly entwining themselves into each other.
I stop typing mid sentence.
I turn around, finally facing her, my mouth dry. (Did I expect this? was I subconsciously waiting for this day?) I'll never know. I cannot remember. "Divorced? But you're married to him.” (What is it about shock that makes people so stupid?)
“I have to leave. I need my own life.”

I look at her for a long time, not knowing her. Seeing her, for the first time as another, instead of just plain old Ammu: always on my back, always upset about something, always pushing, always loving, always there. She is someone else, not Ammu, but a teary eyed stranger in a blue and white jamdani sari. She is silent. (She wants her own life NOW??)
“I don't understand…” (Dumbfounded takes on a new
She says nothing still and I just want to shake her. (EXPLAIN THIS TO ME!)

She refuses to look at me, and I refuse to say the words thumping around in my head. They remain there, to this day. Words I have never had the guts to say to her face. She stays on my bed, tracing the pattern of the patchwork on my quilt. (Don't touch my stuff. You don't have a right.) I want to say it, but I am silent. I watch her. Outside my door I hear my friends talking up their usual storm, with the usual funny anecdotes about their classes. Normally I would be out there too, but not today. The sound of cars and distant laughter creep in with a cool breeze through the small crack of my open window. Papers on my bed rustle. (How can something so big happen, and the rest of the world be so unaware?) My mind can't stop the bitter thought from rolling around in my head.

“Your train will be here soon, we should go.” I look around to see whose voice that is. I didn't recognise it as mine. There is something in it I can't see as mine. The hardness maybe, the coldness.

She doesn't look up still. I know she wants me to ask her to stay. I ignore the thought and get her bag.

I walk her to the train station speechless. Stone-cold-rain washes up on my sneakered feet -- my love-worn Pumas. The blue-gray suede becomes dark and gloomy… misty and cloudy. The bottom of my jeans stain a dark blue as I sludge through the little puddles that the rain has made. “April showers bring May flowers.” Isn't it amazing that when something hurts, you concentrate on the smallest things, like the chewed up gum on the rotten bench that my mom and I sit on waiting for the Amtrak train home from Boston to Virginia -- to the house she shared with my father for the last thirty years. “Juicyfruit, the taste is gonna move ya.

My mom, frightened by my silence, asks me the obvious, “Are you upset? Have I upset you? I love you.” (I don't care!) My words choke inside of my throat almost spilling out of my mouth like a shaken bottle of coke. I want to scream at her, but I can't. How can I yell at her with her guilt so openly staining her face, like a bad ink leak? My mom's face: soft, malleable, pliable, like herself. Ammu. Her smile, my smile. Her eyes, my eyes. She looks me in the face finally begging for understanding, begging for forgiveness. Her eyes, (my eyes) shiny with tears. (How do you stay mad at yourself?) The train pulls in, like a distant dream. She grabs me suddenly and hugs me, almost choking me. “I love you, I am always here. Nothing will change that” (Liar). But I smile, because it is her smile. I struggle for normalcy. “Call me when you get in.” She tries to gage my reaction but I have already made my eyes vacant. I have already clouded my eyes with emptiness. I am already acting for the final scene, for the good-bye, just for her benefit.

The walk back to the dorm is a blur of tears. People walking by stare but I don't care. I slump back into the hall crying. The stories and the laughter stop, replaced by a thousand “What happened?” but I don't have words for them today. My irrational hurt makes me unreasonable. The inner battle of my mind is driving me crazy. I cant stop thinking about how sad I am, but at the same time, I hate myself for being so upset, for allowing myself to feel this much irrational pain, for thinking that my hurt makes me special. (Get over it, this happens all the time to thousands of people. You are not a victim).

All my friends take turns coming into my room, “hey, wanna go to dinner?” “It'll make you feel better to get it all out…” “If you ever need to talk…” I shake my head, no to all of them. Rejecting them the way I feel rejected. By what, I don't know…maybe the concept of family, the concept of love, the concept of marriage, and parents as a unit. Years later I can still feel the sudden dampness of the room, the ugly hand of reality stifling my carefree youth, irrationality taking place of reason.

The sun sets with a sigh. I watch the sky turn purply-pink marveling at how such a beautiful horizon can run hand in hand with such ugly feelings… like old friends. My friends go back to their lives. The hall outside is quiet, as if it too, has given up on me. I remain in my room -- a silent bomb waiting to lose my mind.

I get off my bed and look around for something, anything to distract me from what I'm feeling right now. I pick up the phone to call my friend and tell her the news. A wave of tears threatens to overcome me and I put the phone down. (I can't. Not right now. Not today…)

I didn't tell my best friend until two months later. To this day I still cannot explain what made me wait so long. She never said anything about it though. Thankfully she realised that I just needed to tell her in my own time.

I spent the rest of my evening in my room, watching the day turn into night, suffocated by the loneliness I created for myself. Everyone in my hall was weary of me and kept their distance, leaving me alone with my deafening silence and overbearing shadows. I fell asleep with the smell of the April rains seeping through the walls and the shower of teardrops it left on my window.





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