THE UMBILICAL CORD


 “… I close the door after they leave… " She managed to say, after resting her palpitating heart.

“What has happened?” he asked calmly

“I don’t know ... they told me something and then left … I don't feel anything now… I am numb …"

"Who were they?"

"Some men in uniform... I do not know them"

“Can you see yourself?”

“Yes”, I am young and am wearing a pinafore”, “and… I  feel heavy and am in physical discomfort…” she follows soonafter.

“Oh! Is there anyone around you?”

“No… I am alone … all alone… there is no one around me…”

 “Can you tell what year or what place is it?”

“No.”

“Okay. Go out of the door and see where you are”

“I am too weak to step outside … I am now sitting on the floor of the house… I feel a sense of betrayal and abandonment…I dunno why though”

 “Okay, no problem. Go back in time. I know it’s hard but please try…” he asked her.

Slowly, her facial muscles relaxed and her breathing became regular.

“What do you see now?” he asked. 

“There is food and wine everywhere … men and women are celebrating.”

“What are they celebrating?”

 “… The men… they appear to be generals in the military… they are joyously shouting around and talking about a pact”

“A pact? What place is it? Can you tell the year?”

“Yes. They say it’s very significant … for Germany, Italy and Japan. It’s September, 1940.”

“Do you see yourself there?”

“No”

“Try locating yourself.”

“…I am trying to... there are just too many people”

“No problem. Look around the scene; do you recognise anyone?”

 “I see him …”

“Who is this ‘him?”

“He is approaching me … I know him since my childhood … he wants to dance with me …”

“So, you see yourself too. Good.”

“Yes”

“What is your name? What are you like?”

“He calls me Hannah … I am 16 and have blonde braided hair. I wear good clothes … the general standing next to me … he is my father… he wants us to dance together too.”

 “How do you feel about your father? How is your relationship with him?

  “He appears to hold some authority amongst his men. He has been an important person in signing the pact. He has one other daughter and two sons but I think I am his favourite. I think that is because I am the prettiest. He also seems to like the guy who wants to dance with me"

  "Do you know your father from now?"

  "No..."

 “Okay. How do you feel about the guy? What’s his name?”

 “The generals call him Lucas … I feel good … I blush when he asks me to dance with him”

 “How old is he? Is Lucas a general too?”

 “He is 21.  He appears to be some officer. I am dancing with him now..."

 “Stay a while as you and Lucas dance together. Enjoy the dance”

 Her face broke into a peaceful smile.

“Now slowly, go ahead in time. Are you and Lucas still together?”

“...Lucas and I are very thick ... he is very kind to me…we’re in love…”

“Are you two married now?”

“no... but we will marry soon”

Seconds passed by. Her breathing tensed and her facial muscles flexed. A sunken, pallid expression clouded her face.

“What has happened? What do you see?"

“He is leaving… he is leaving without saying a goodbye … just a note saying that he has been immediately called . It’s an attack on the British. He is going as per my father’s command…there are many who are going as per my father’s command…”

“Do you think this makes Lucas happy?”

“I don’t think so… his note says that he has to do his duty… he tells me he will miss me… but I feel sad… very sad... I am crying...I feel he should have seen me before leaving and kissed me goodbye…”

“He may not have had the time to inform you in person. Are you angry at your father because of this?”

“Slightly, yes…but my father says this is good for us… the Axis powers… he says some ideas need to be reinforced… and the war will end soon”

Several minutes passed but her expressions did not change. She was pale and quiet all along.

“What do you see now? What do you do while the war is on?”

“I spend time at home and get regular updates of the war. My father provides me with updates …the Germans have conducted an air raid on the British … they want to maintain their superiority… major  ports and cities are bombed  everyday … Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Coventry… Coventry is the worst hit … everyone around me is happy… my father is happy too.”

“Are you happy with the war and the destruction?”

“… the war has taken many people away from their loved ones… the war has taken Lucas away from me… and I do not know when he will return… but I think that any sort of war is pointless because it affects those who are not directly involved with what the authorities decide…”

 “Do you get updates of Lucas?”

“No… I have no contact with him … but my father says he is going to be fine and will return soon… I long for him to be back …I am desperate to meet him … I have something to tell him”

“What is it?”

“…that I am pregnant …” She whispers softly.

“Oh!”

“How long have you known this? Does anyone around you know of this?”

“… a few days now…and I can’t tell anyone yet. I wanted to tell him before anyone… but now I can’t”

“Okay, how do you feel about this situation?”

“I feel happy and sad at the same time. I feel jittery thinking about Lucas’ reaction to this news…”

 “Okay. Go a few months ahead in time. Tell me what do you see?”

Her lips parted and her face wrenched in pain. Her eyes rolled as she tossed her head from one side to another.

“what do you see?”

“I am bleeding … it hurts…there are a few women around me … it hurts a lot... I wanted to keep it but I could not… I lost it… I lost everything”

“It’s okay. Tell me, what have you lost?”

“My child… my child with Lucas… I wanted to preserve it … but my baby died inside me… there is blood all around…”

 “oh! Is Lucas with you right now?”

"No. Lucas is dead... He died during the air raid on the British... when I received the news of his death I felt abandoned by him… but the baby was the only thing left of us… and I wanted to keep it.”

“I am sorry for your loss. What do you feel about this?”

"I feel responsible… I should have been stronger, or done something, anything that could have prevented this… I feel that I will never be able to forgive myself…"

“But you are beating yourself for something which was not in your control, and …”

“Nothing makes sense to me right now... I feel a vortex inside pulling me in…", she cuts him in between and garbled on in her stupor. "feel broken beyond repair… I  feel as if I am staring into a void, feeling betrayed and helpless… I see no reason to continue living… I lost a part of me forever ...nothing I do can assuage me of what I feel and salvage this situation.... I feel despair, anger, guilt, sadness, loss… all at once and in great intensity.” 

“But you didn’t do anything here. This could have happened to anyone. You received the traumatic news of Lucas’ death during your pregnancy and that may have had an impact on your child. It’s not your fault.”

"I think this was the universe speaking… maybe this happened because I was incapable of rearing a child...because I could not have been a good mother to my child… because I was too callous and clumsy and too self-absorbed to have cared enough for my children…so the powers that be did not even allow me to cut the umbilical cord...”

"When it comes to one's children, maternal instincts become stronger than you would have  ever imagined. This is your grief speaking."

"but I did come across as self-absorbed to Lucas..." she trails off

"Did he ever tell you that?"

"He told me this a week back"

"...but, Lucas is dead!", he said reassuringly

"...Lucas is Shyam. My lab partner from now who I met him a few weeks back..."
                                             
                                                                             ***

PS: It had been eight years that Nandini was struggling with neurotic fears, depression and her aversion to commitments. Finally, she had garnered strength to seek help from a professional. Six months into her therapy, her sessions which had first started as counselling had now translated into hypnosis and past life regression. These session were proving to be one learning experience for her experienced psychiatrist; he now knew that her misgivings about healthy , long term and committed relationships were deeply seated in her past. Alongside, not only was she healing herself of her bygone mishaps, Nandini was also re-discovering herself through the lens of her past. Souls re-incarnate in clusters and hence Nandini had recognised Lucas from this lifetime too .The immortality of the soul and how the occurrences of one lifetime impact other lifetimes continued to intrigue the doctor.



Comments

Raj said…
So intense and powerful. I was literally gasping at the end. Terrifically written.
A grain of sand said…
Thank you so much Raj! thanks for your constant encouragement.

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