The Other

by Abhipsita Kundu

It’s been two years since I lost him. They say, time heals all wounds but would it ever heal the gaping hole in my heart? Would I ever feel whole again? I loved him with all I had. Loved them both. So much.

As I sit in the verandah of my ancestral home, where he breathed his last, I stare at the fiery red bougainvillea blossoms that frame the pillars in our driveway. My father had planted the saplings and tended to the plants all his life. He said the blossoms, when I was away, reminded him of me – of my fiery nature and my indomitable spirit.

Now as I see the leaves of our beloved bougainvillea yellowing, curling and dropping on the unforgiving concrete like the sheared locks of the hair of a maiden well past her prime, I too feel defeated. The bougainvillea needs pruning. As does my life. By refusing to prune my life, I have let it become a stifling forest in which no new green leaves are allowed to grow.

I have returned after two years for closure. It should come as little surprise that a generation of people brought up with instant coffee, 4G internet and one night stands would search for quick relief from something our parents called grief, but was I not delaying my own journey to recovery by staying away from these walls?

My thoughts are interrupted by my two year old, Adam. He comes running to me. His cherubic cheeks are flushed and he is breathless.

‘Mommy, mommy, look, I found a squirrel.’

‘Mommy will be right there, my love,’ I assure him.

I let him drag me to the chestnut tree in our garden to show me this squirrel that has caught his fancy. It scampers away as we approach it.

‘Aw, Mommy. You scared him,’ he admonishes me.

As I begin to explain myself, Adam takes my hand again and says, ‘Come it’s time to feed the fishies.’

And together we walk, hand in hand, to the koi pond. As we sit on the edge, Adam seems more captivated by his own reflection in the pond’s uneven surface than by the colourful fish that we were going to feed.

‘Mommy, you promised me a picnic,’ he suddenly exclaims.

I had totally forgotten. I must put together a picnic basket first thing tomorrow. I assure him that we can have a picnic tomorrow afternoon.

He returns his gaze to the surface of the pond, seems to think about it for a moment and then frowns at me.

‘But Adam likes playing in the evening, Mommy.’

’Sweetheart, but picnics are meant to be had in the afternoon. You love spending your afternoons in the garden.’

‘Silly mommy,’ he replies looking at me like I have missed something obvious and then steals a furtive glance at the pond. ‘Not me. The other Adam. He only likes playing in the evening. Won’t he be joining us?’

I continue to stare at my two year old. Adam doesn’t know that I gave birth to his stillborn identical twin two years ago.

And what we did with his body.

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