The fact or process of losing something or someone.
Loss can be emotional.
But also materialistic.
It can be consequential.
But also trivial.
More often than not, it’s undesired.
We hardly come across people who want to lose something.
People who’re ready to let go of a thing or a person.
People who have disposable possessions.
Come to think of it, do we have anything in our life that we are ready to lose.
This is exactly what Aria was thinking walking home from class. It was just another Thursday. The leaves were the perfect shade of yellow with a tint of green, like a pinch of life in something lifeless. The traffic was as loud as it always is. The street was as busy as it always is. The street dog – Athena – was as excited to see Aria as she always was, wagging her tail, in a perfectly rhythmic motion, almost hypnotising.
She’d always buy a packet of biscuits for Athena and give them to her as they walked, it was like the faster her tail wagged, the better Aria felt.
She reached to the end of the street,with Athena following her along the way to enter the kernel of chaos – home.
As she climbed the stairs, she could hear her grandmother’s cards shuffling, the plastic clapping as it touched another, like a familiar ache in her ear. Walking into the living room, her sister came in running, constantly yapping about something or the other, and as she didn’t pay attention, her sister yelled out of ignorance and stormed back into the room.
About an hour later, Aria’s mother came in from work. Giving her a glass of warm water and boiling some for her evening tea, she tried making conversation with her.
For a woman who works for over 10 hours a day and comes home to a mother-in-law who’s addicted to gambling,a younger daughter who’d constantly look for attention and an elder daughter who was ignorant and self involved , Aria’s mother was in the perfect state – always tired and emotional and helpless.
Maybe it was the lack of support, the responsibility or the work pressure. Or the constant living for other people that she needed some time for herself in the evening.
Aria never expected her mother to be nice to her when she was back home.
She’d shut herself in her room with tea and light dinner and watch mindless television. And snub all conversation with anyone.
She’d often call her mother to ask about her health, sometimes her sister to vent off.
Aria always thought she had the backbone of a jellyfish. The kind of jellyfish Aria could never afford to lose.
Her father,on the other hand hadn’t come home sober before 2 am in the past 7 years that Aria could recall. A few bad investment decisions and borderline alcoholism aside, he always tried to be a good father.
Overbearing and protective when it came to Aria going out at night.
Over the top affectionate when anyone in the family dared to confront him about his mistakes.
Frivolous with a pinch of bad parenting.
He’d often go on a guilt trip about his ignorance towards the family, or all the bad business decisions he’d made when he was a few drinks down. And somehow manage to turn these conversations around how Aria is incapable of success in her life.
He’d always tell her she was inadequate, with a new synonym every night.
And like self depreciating pleasure, Aria would cry to the same words every time.
This is how it always was.
Her grandmother always used to say it could’ve been worse. “ atleast he isn’t violent “ she’d say , and nobody could comprehend how that was a feasible excuse to her ears.
With a lack of a better expression, he was making life tough for everyone in the house.
He didn’t respect his mother enough.
He didn’t support his wife enough.
He didn’t stand by his daughters enough.
He was just- not enough.
And it wasn’t even like he was trying too hard-or at all. Maybe he was a better person in his head. Maybe that’s how he slept at night. Maybe he was living with the lack of respect and dignity which lead to incoherent decisions that eventually build up the rubble that was his life.
Aria always thought of a life without him. And it always looked better.
Less baggage. Less worry. Less drama.
She’d never thought it out loud, but losing him sounded like a way to a better,wholesome,easy life.
She spent that night thinking about this. Her father didn’t come home , like he’d often skip the trip back if he was too tired. And that gave her a quiet sleepless night. And more time to think.
By 5 am she was convinced that she didn’t need him. Nor did her mom.
With 2 hours to spare, she fell asleep to a blank dream with a tranquil mind – a break from the rampage of pandemonic hustle her brain always was.
When she got up that morning, brushed her teeth, cleaned herself, had breakfast and picked up half a packet of biscuits left from yesterday, ready to meet Athena on her walk to class like a morning ritual, the wind felt a little different.
There was an eerie,uncanny chill to it.
Aria walked to the gate, waiting for Athena to turn up with the smiling hungry face and the rhythmic wagging of her hard black tail, there was no one there.
Thinking that she must be asleep- because in the past 8 years Athena had never been late to pick Aria up – she walked to the little kennel the colony kids made for Athena and her babies out of marble pieces and tattered pieces of cloth, only to find it empty.
She stepped out of the colony to walk towards her class, hoping to meet Athena on the way.
A couple of steps ahead, a lump of black mass camouflaged into the grey of the cement of the road, with red spots surrounding it like a highlighting circle.
Wishing that wasn’t what she thought, Aria stepped closer to see the tail she’d always seen wagging – still and cold on the ground.
The face she’d always seen smiling – shut and lump, and eyes with a glow of welcoming happiness – darker than what she assumed death looked like in it’s physical form, devoid of emotion and life.
She fell to her knees as her jeans scrubbed through the blood spots around the body.
Tears down her eyes, she could physically feel her heart sinking.
Aria sat there for what seemed like forever. Until she could gather up the courage to bury Athena and send her off with the respect she deserved.
While the colony guard helped her dig through an empty dusty ground a few miles from where she lived, she thought about loss.
How she wasn’t ready for loss. Of any kind.
How her convincing herself of losing her father being alright was utter bullshit.
How no matter how strong and independent she though she was – she wasn’t and will never be brave enough for loss.