The air smells of dust, the atmosphere cool and chilly, people all around are happy and effusive and ebullient and cheery. This is a new season. It’s a season of love and laughter, a season reminiscent of good memories, a season where the primal purpose of most people is to put a smile on the faces of others. This is the season of all seasons. This is a season that reminds me of so many things , a season that reminds me of love and loss, hope and hatred. This is the season that reminds me of the transitory nature of the world, a season that reminds me that the things that we hold dear to our hearts can evade us and leave us bereft. This is the season where I am reminded that human beings are not infallible, the season that I reaffirm to myself that the loss we suffer and the joy we have could often be coloured by our lack of selflessness. This is the season where I am reminded how quickly people move on. It is also the season I am reminded of the goodness of mankind, and the tendency of our personal failings to darken that goodness of mankind and make people not see it. This is the season that reminds me of loss, of love, of oblivion, of withering. This is the season that reminds me of my sister.
When I think of my sister, I usually think of her face, an almond shaped dark edifice that spoke of humor and kindness. She wasn’t beautiful, not in the classical sense anyways, and coming from a world where beauty was ascribed to fairness in complexion and a slender physiognomy, it was very easy to mistake her for an ugly person. But she wasn’t ugly, not to me at least, for I believed that there can be beauty in blackness and that ugliness is not on the outside but on the inside. There was a part of her inside that was ugly, anyways, and even though it took me a while to see it, to truly see it, it became evident when she became pregnant. When asked who got her pregnant, she said it was some teenager whom she barely knew. And in that instant, looking at her as she sat huddled in a sofa in our living room amidst the glaring gaze of the rest of our family members, I felt my respect and admiration for her waver and I saw, for the very first time, the ugliness inside of her.
But even with the pregnancy, she wasn’t that much of a changed person, changed for the worst, I mean. She was was still warm, she was still kind. She was still the sister I grew up playing with and laughing with. But her pregnancy made all the difference to me and to the rest of the family. That she was pregnant meant that she wasn’t chaste anymore, that she wasn’t virtuous anymore, that she had betrayed the trust and confidence of every one. That she was pregnant meant that she was no longer pure in faith and in spirit and no amount of kindness and warmth can make people not see that.
Nine months came fast enough and during that time, the baby bump was something that was unspoken of in the family. Unspoken of by our mother who still couldn’t believe that the girl she thought she brought up well did something as shameful as what my sister did. Unspoken of by my father who was discontent but didn’t know the best way to express his discontent. Unspoken of by me and my siblings because we wanted to perhaps wallow in the illusion that the bump was not there and that she was not really pregnant. But she was pregnant, and no amount of denial could change that fact.
My sister almost died in labor. But when the child was born, she adored it so much. She called the child Baby and loved watching her grow up and build castles in the sand.
I am writing this story in the yuletide season and it was In this season in 2013, that an incident that would forever change our family happened. The morning of the incident was as cold and as dry as the morning that I write this. We woke up and prayed and as usual everyone went on with his or her daily activities, Mom was getting ready for work and so was Dad, my other siblings were talking about football (I think it was something about Manchester United being better than Chelsea), I was reading a terrific book(I think it was Rose Madder by Stephen King) and my sister was cleaning the living room upstairs. As she was working upstairs, she heard Baby screaming and assuming that Baby had perhaps done something to hurt herself, my sister immediately rushed down the stairs. As she was rushing down the stairs, her feet slipped and she came crashing down at the foot of the stairs. Her head hit the marble floor.
I retrospect, I find it somewhat unreasonable that I lost my sister to some stupid accident in the house , an accident she incurred because she was rushing to see to a child that was crying for no apparent reason. I discovered my sister’s body when I came out of my room to find out why the child was crying. I saw my sister on the floor, bleeding from an open wound in her head, her face pale and lifeless. I saw Baby standing over her, the child’s feet soaked in the mother’s blood.
It’s been three years now since my sister passed away, but each time this yuletide season comes, as people pranced about in their fancy clothes and lit up their Christmas trees, I am reminded of her death and of the emptiness that accompanied it, the hollowness that comes when you lose someone you love.