I didn’t know why I had called her. She was not a friend I would turn to. She only spoke about God. God was a myth. I did not believe in that entity. And yet somehow, I had found myself calling her. There were times in the call when she had irked me as usual. How condescending could a person be! Was she? Or was it just my resistance to her words?
Somehow, of all the people I knew, she seemed the most unreal one sometimes. She seemed to dwell in a different world and expected people to be as calm and rational as her. I was sure that was façade. “How do you know she doesn’t experience chaos? She has herself said she faces challenges,” a voice whispered. I shushed it quickly. It wouldn’t do to heard voices of dissident in my own head. “But what is the harm in trying what she said?” it asked. “Isn’t that why you called her?”
For the next few minutes, I tried to lose myself in work. But I couldn’t even do dishes without my words returning to her words. “Just tell yourself – I can see peace instead of this. Every time the sadness rises up, tell yourself I can see peace instead of this.” Hmm. It was sound advice. It had nothing to do with God. All she had suggested was I say this line whenever I felt my grief was out-of-control. At that moment I wanted to tell her – what do you know about losing a mom? Truth was that she knew. She had lost her mom at a far younger age than me.
I plonked myself down on the couch and crossed my legs. Punching the cushion behind me to bend to my will, I wiggled around till I felt comfortable. Eyes closed I brought to mind those last moments when Mom had passed on. I could see peace instead of this, I told myself. I felt that familiar sense of depression tug at me. I could see peace instead of this, I told myself. For the next few minutes, I went through the list of things that made me anxious, sad, the people who had deserted me this past year when I needed them the most, the anger at the doctors who had not saved Maa. I could see peace instead of this, I reminded myself as each memory passed by. One after the other, peace instead of fear of being alone. Peace instead of friends who had not even checked in on me.
Fifteen minutes later when I opened my eyes I felt better. What had worked? The sadness had not disappeared and yet, this moment, it didn’t feel like I had a cement brick in my chest. I took a deep breath. I could breathe! I grudgingly thought of my friend. It was possible to replace feelings of sadness with peace. I looked at the phone for a minute before I picked it up. “Thank you,” I texted. It was the first time I had told her that.