Hundred Times Over Still No Regrets
On a usual morning when DG leaves home she sets intentions for the day, armed with her to do list she takes bus, delivers warm greeting to the bus driver and a compliment to lady driver or a co-passenger. Then shut her eyes to focus on her breathing to conserve energy and avoid sensory overload. A portly woman of color in a well fitted dress boarded the bus her bereft of makeup looks caught DG’s attention. Most of the time DG is not aware of who is sitting next to her, this time when she opened her eyes at some random stop sat to next her was this woman in fitted dress, about half a foot taller than her. As she looked up to her face, she saw a stream of tears running through the corner of her eye. Disappointed at her meditative stance she was glad she opened her eyes. She put her hand on her hand and asked what is the matter? What is hurting her? Are you safe? She struggled with her words and barely managed to say in broken English, “my husband, wants to kill me, my child is at home, I ran out with no money just bus pass (that explained her disheveled looks).” Now all eyes, on both of them as they spoke to each other. Quite audibly DG said, “in this country we don’t let people kill people coz’ one is married to them, you don’t have to die just because you are married to someone.” Yes, it is a lie she told, more women are killed every year by their intimate partners in this country and across border than by cancer.
To make sure she was safe and had a safe place to return was DG’s priority in that moment. The lady, did not know what to do just had a business card of a an attorney she saw in the past. DG offered to accompany her. These are the moments when DG feels very blessed, people she work with understand her random style of working don’t push her for lapses in keeping appointments every now and then. While they alighted the bus and started walking a bible thumper who was listening to their conversation kept interrupting, “I’ll pray for you, Jesus will make it all well for you.” As if praying solved the social issues world would have been Eden, a reign of peace. They went to the attorney she was kind to take a walk-in DG spoke to her to make sure this woman had a safe place to go back to and her child was not at risk. At work DG explained why she was late a volunteer chirped, “so you are the good Samaritan today.” All DG could say was, “No, I was she.”
That afternoon DG recalled how it all started, there she sat by the roadside sad and confused, she came out of that apartment she was told was her home just to catch a breath. The cop from the patrol van asked her if she was okay why was she sitting there. She realized, one cannot just sit anywhere without looking suspicious. Few years later, broken she stood at the doors of her academic mentor, who told her not come in with a long face, there after she regularly took her sadness to the malls where she climbed elevators, strolled in the stores aimlessly not one soul saw her or her sadness. She returned when her feet hurt or the mall was about to close. Her sadness was the ghost she carried on her being for a very long time. Then came a time, she started working on the source of sadness it is an ongoing project… she learned when you are sad you are invisible, you shrink in size, your presence ruins the scene of social propriety.
Maintaining a spiritual practice with the rigors of a yard-bird she grew stronger by the day her intuition sharpened and she learned to trust it. Coming out of class as she headed to International Student Center under a tree a pair of shapely legs in magenta fishnets attracted her attention, she smiled to the glory of youth and walked by. She hadn’t gone past more than five yards, she heard a loud and clear voice, “go back to her.” She could not take another step forward, it was so compelling she had to go back. There sat a 19 year old freshman, sad and alone. DG asked, if she was okay? standard response came, “I am fine.” DG won’t give up, she sat down and continued what was ailing this youngster. It was her father’s death anniversary who died a year ago and now she was away from her mother and sisters in another city. That sadness melted into tears in a strong embrace.
Few days later as DG walked out of her physiotherapy session to take the trolley, she heard a pedestrian in back and neck brace walking ahead of her crying and talking loudly over the phone. As they both crossed the traffic light and came to the trolley stop don’t know what came over DG she just opened her arms like Shahrukh Khan (two years ago she learned this phrase when she was playing bollywood with a 24 year old in the snow by the river). The young woman just hugged her tight and cried her heart out while her mother on the other side over the phone waited. This young lady had fallen from the fourth story balcony of her apartment in a drunken episode now her back and neck were broken and diagnosis was not very encouraging.
Many more such moments came just before DG left the town for good, she walked to the bus stop after class, a woman was on phone talking and in animated Spanish and sobbing in between. DG just stood in front of her and opened her arms though she understood not a word, this woman too hugged and cried her heart out. Her relationship was breaking and she had realized there was nothing more she could do to save it. That was DG’s good bye to the city she learned so much from.
Moved to new place 5000 miles away; one afternoon while browsing the shops on a trendy street where lull reigned on a sultry afternoon DG passed by a white woman in her sixties who walked like a slug. That loud and clear voice struck again. DG had to go back and ask her if she was okay. “Are you okay?” “No, I lost my husband last month, I am so lost.” They stood there in the middle of the street embracing when they parted like always no information was exchanged.
Last year while she headed to join Take Back The Night (TBTN), just before she alighted the bus she saw a fourteen year old with red eyes, on bit of probing she disclosed how her sixteen year old boy friend was “streaking.” Her parents we druggies, one was incarcerated and other was just out of jail, her grandmother had her custody. She had about an hour before she could be home; took her to the TBTN venue, introduced her to professors and students gave her a glimpse of possibilities, that she mattered and we saw her. Soon she vanished in the crowd without saying a good bye, it was okay. At least she heard it so many say it out LOUD and CLEAR, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
DG trusts her intuition and never misses an opportunity to ask ARE YOU OKAY? It’s always been right. There have been times, it is usually younger people, who fight it like few months ago, a teen who looked perturbed, kept insisting she was fine and called her friend to tell him/her how a weird woman was asking if she was okay? Yes, also Desi women fight her if she asks, “Are you Okay?’ She doesn’t care, if it doesn’t feel right, it ain’t right is the bottom line for DG, she has to do what she has to do. She’ll not have it on her conscience she should have, could have, would have…
Yes, on her shoulders DG carries the carcass of her past it doesn’t weigh her down but reminds her how far she has come and how far she has to go. By training she is a student of social relationships she is bound to observe and draw similes and metaphors from life around her especially what she knows the best, her life. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t let go of her past. Her past is a undeniable truth etched in time be it good, bad or ugly she can and does dispassionately observe it and carry on with her life. Obliterating past does not mean one has let go of it, to let go means to live in peace with what has happened and give it its due place where it needs to be.
STAND IN FRONT OF A MIRROR AND ASK YOURSELF, “ARE YOU OKAY?
IF THE ANSWER IS “YES” GO OUT AND ASK SOMEONE “ARE YOU OKAY? maybe you’ll touch a nerve…
IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” TIME TO EXPLORE FURTHER.
FACEBOOK has blocked DG, she refuses to disclose personal information for reasons of both privacy and safety of people she works with. If it is a life and death situation you know how to reach her. All other queries can be addressed in the comments on this post or other posts.