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She had both hands in her jeans pocket and she won’t look at me. It’s her way of acknowledging guilt. There’s something in her pocket, I can see the bulge. I ask her again and draw a blank.

‘’Samaira, look at Momma.’’ I tap her twice on her shoulder. No response.

 I don’t know why, but it makes me mad. I didn’t want to deal with this today. I’m tired.

I suppress my urge to scream..or was it an urge to curl up and cry? I don’t know. I walk away from my daughter.

The house looks bereft, emptied out of my ex-husbands belongings. What remained was depressingly meagre. The study was literally empty… dust mites swirled under the weakly revolving fan. Harsh sunlight streamed in, making me squint. He’d been careful to even take down the curtains. The blue ones he’d picked up from that store at the mall. He could be pretty mean, when he chose to. I walk over to the bedroom. His side of the wardrobe gaped at me, wide open, an empty shoe box and a few clothes hangers, the only remnants, still smelling of his perfume..Burberry or was it Davidoff? I can’t seem to remember….

 There was a time when there had been no secrets between us… we’d known each other like the palm of one’s hands, right down to the most intimate detail. Hell, at some point, we’d even shared a toothbrush…The irony isn’t lost on me. Do I laugh about it? Or cry? I’m unsure of either.

A tiny hand slips into mine. Samaira. I’d almost forgotten about her. It was long past her breakfast time.

‘’Are you hungry, Sammy?’’ , I ask pointing towards the kitchen.

She quietly nods, wide-eyed, wanting to ask me a million questions, but unable to.

We walk to the kitchen, hand-in-hand. She pauses by the display cabinet in the living room, where we kept our most prized possessions – photographs from vacations taken long back, Sammy’s pictures from school, a few mementos…. Many of them were missing today…

A faint outline of dust remains on the spot, where my favourite miniature crystal Taj Mahal used to be. I can’t believe that he’d actually taken that. A sigh escapes my lips. Sammy traces it with her tiny fingers and looks up at me. I look away, not wanting her to see the tears that threatened to pour forth.

Seated at the dining table, twiddling her thumbs, I can see her eyes boring into my back as I go about fixing her breakfast.

Today, for the very first time, I’m relieved that my daughter can’t speak … or hear… That she’d been spared the agony.

What I didn’t realise was that, she had seen it all

She’d been the silent spectator to our innumerable fights. Like watching some twisted horror show on tv, with the volume turned down, she’d watched us , with our grotesque, contorted faces, spittle flying mouths twisted into snarls, yelling muted abuses, fingers clawing at air and sometimes at each other, throwing things around and slamming doors…

The thing is, you didn’t need to be able to speak or hear to sense Resentment, Negativity and Tension in the air you breathed.

Her dad’s abrupt departure that morning, with a kiss and a quick hug, boxes and bags in tow. No explanations. Of course, she didn’t need any, right?

I had made her favourite pasta with pesto sauce. As I sit down with her at the table, I bring it up again.. ‘’What were you looking so guilty about earlier?’’, I ask in sign language.

She holds out a balled fist. I can see there’s something in it.

She places it on the table. It’s my miniature crystal Tajmahal. The one I loved. She hadn’t wanted him to have it.

This time, I don’t hide my tears.

 

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