I wake up with a start.
How could I sleep so sound? I am supposed to be a light sleeper these days.
I wait a little to adjust my eyes to the dark in the room. But it should not be pitch dark in my room. It scares him.
Might be there is no power. In that case, the UPS should have started buzzing. But I can’t hear that menacing sound either.
Did I switch off the computer? I don’t seem to remember.
Automatically, I stretch out my arms to feel if he is still asleep by my side. But the empty rustle of the sheets tell me that he is not there.
I begin to panic.
I feel over his side of the bed again but no, he is not there; he has not curled up either.
What if he rolled over? He might get hurt in that case. Why is he not crying out then? Why did he not wake me up tonight?
Why is everything so calm?
I call out to my sister finally. But I do not get any response. That’s ok. She sleeps soundly. So, I call out a little louder this time. But nothing stirs, no sound … stillnesss .. silence.
I am sweating now.
Focus, I repeat to myself.
“You are sleeping in the guest room. Remember, JaiAditya was crying loudly and it was well past midnight. You were dead tired and everybody suggested that you shift to the guest room”, reasoned my sleepy self.
“No, that happened three days ago”, a loud, defiant and chastising echo went through my being.
I am wide awake now.
I have switched on the lights. I am in my own room. And I am staring at the unslept side of the bed.
Di left for her home. After a week’s stay with all of us. That explains why JaiAditya did not wake me up. Why the lights of the room were switched off. And that also explains the incoherence. I had cried myself to sleep.
I do this everytime they all go away.
It does not matter that I will see both Harjas and Jaiaditya tomorrow again. It does not matter that I can run out and meet my sister before I can finish typing this sentence and post it. It does not matter that my sister has been married for a good six years now. And it does not matter that she lives at a distance of three houses from ours.
Everytime she goes, it is like the first time. It is like her wedding farewell being re-enacted. It still hits me as hard as it did that day. Everytime she goes away, everything seems empty, lifeless. As if a mist shrouds it all.
A mist that lifts when she enters the room and smiles. When my nephews play and clamour around.
And just thinking of their angelic smiles calms me. I will better sleep again.
And tomorrow, when the sun will be shining bright, I will run out to embrace my sister and my nephews.