as i look back on it now, that was the summer that i finally realized that love was not a weapon, and that sorrow could never be a crutch. we all grew up a little, then, even mother, who still stands on the landing, leaning against the railing, saying 'it was better before.' - but its only a whisper now, as if she's still trying to shake the cobwebs of the weight of those years away from her eyes, and she stands there and says, softly, 'it was better before,' as if she might one day, finally, wring all of the truth out of those words.
days turned into months, and as the golden yellow rain fell on the parched earth, forming glassy puddles across the city, the leaves, too, decided to finally let it go; they fell in a soft, muted rain, soundlessly, until what wasn't wet was covered by dry, parched leaves that crunched satisfyingly when you walked through them, despite the weight of the rain. bhai never quite recovered from the summer - he was quiet before, but it was as if the leaves that fell that night took with them his last remaining syllables. nothing was the same again, ofcourse, but i realize that we all, somehow, expected it to be - minus that great negative. we didn't realize that leaves, too, have weight - even dead ones.
my sister left, ofcourse. that was inevitable, but what we didn't expect was that she would leave so completely, as if her presence had only ever been a figment of our imaginations, a childhood entirely imagined, an invisible friend who held our fingers when we were cold and told us, quietly, 'close your eyes and think of home.' i never conjectured as to her reasons - i realized that her departure was reason enough. we would only ever hear from her from a distance, after that. she would never step foot in that house again - and i don't think anyone could blame her. for a while i thought that mother would add another ghost to her cane, but i think she, too, saw through it. bhai took it as he took everything, quietly and solemnly - as if yet another great truth had been confirmed and his suspicions about the leaves had been the truth all along.
and i - i never quite left that summer, i realize. a part of me will live there, always, in the place where things are born. my fascinations with power and skin were, for the first time, satisfied, and i saw no reason to move, even as i saw the soft, muted rain fall and knew that i already had. but the summer of cobwebs was about moving, in the end, and not settling.
'i'm going out,' she said.
and i, remembering a soft, muted rain, followed her. because love, i realize, is not a weapon.