Wishes are live beings. They dance on your tongue, at the back of your throat, wings frantically beating against the walls—until the walls bleed. There’s no choice but to let them have a voice, to let them go. Caged, locked in, they grow bigger until you are just a seed from which it feeds.
I had one that refused to be silenced and kept burning inside of me. When the burning became too hot to bear, the fire leapt out, outside of me. It was wild, feeding on breaths, carving its own path. The beast grew wild. That’s how this wish ended up tying me up in circles of fire and rain. Hot and cool, in its showers. I wished for a life breathing inside of me. A heartbeat within a heartbeat. Something to do with the continuity of my bloodline, the assurance of me having carved a scar on this sphere of mud.
I tried to be happy. I really did. But sometimes I could not help myself, help my emotions. I was overcome with jealousy when you were granted this gift, which you hadn’t even wished for. You weren’t grateful for it. In fact it was the wrong time to be pregnant for you. And I, who wished with all my heart for a baby, remained barren. A land without seed.
You are not ready you said, but still you had some decency and were going to give it a go. I watched your belly grow over the months and with each new swell, I ached. With each expansion of your waist, my envy grew. It came to a point where I was afraid to get outside of my door, fearing to meet you in the corridors. I was just a hot ball of green, waiting to explode. I didn’t want to know all those intimate details, the growth and the weight and the heartbeats.
The first month you came to me, laughed and said, it is the size of a pomegranate seed. It didn’t affect you that much. The third month it was the size of the seed of a mango. In spite of yourself, you were amazed. You revelled in the joy of it. The growing size was making it more real to you and more and more uncomfortable for me. The first kick that you felt, I felt it too. Deep in my womb. And I resented it, each moment that you glowed.
It was meant to be mine. Why should you have this gift and not me, when I was more deserving? When I was the better choice of the two? You never had a maternal bone in your body.
Oh, you would not be cruel, but you would forget to be kind. Then you were just amazed at the newness of it. That’s all. You swore and cursed every morning when food refused to stay in your stomach. Cursing your baby’s very existence. You wished to God you had never been pregnant. And God, how I wished it too. Why couldn’t you just stop being pregnant and then I could go on pretending. I wouldn’t have to face my failure every day, two doors down.
We both got our wishes and neither of us, are able to cope with the actual reality of it. The baby is no longer. I wished it out of existence.
You are guilty, for not being happy with its existence from the moment of its discovery. But still it was a kind of slow loving. And it had just started to blaze away. Now, the fire is no longer there and you have no choice but to face the cold. We faced each other in the corridors last morning, and the breath hitched in my throat.
You were afraid to meet my eyes and I was afraid you would see the murder of your baby in mine.
The only thing that lasts is that our wishes were granted, no matter how wrong they were and now there is no choice but to live with it. Way before your birthday or mine, our wishes were granted, somehow pushing a life out of being. Is this how it feels, when wishes come back to dance their gleeful dance in you, when they are near to completion. Is this how it should feel? A kite frantically beating, against the force of the winds even as holes are ripped in its body? This is how wishes are live beings with a mind of their own. There is no taking back those dancing beings once you have wished them into existence.
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Chaitali Gawade is a freelance writer living in Pune. Her writerly musings are fuelled by tea and coffee. Her work has been published by Twenty20 Journal, Daily Love, Postcard Shots, “Duckbill Anthology” and Vagabondage Press, among others. Check out her writerly musings at http://chaitaligawade.com/