Rumaina used to say, “A lot is invisible; that doesn’t mean they aren’t perceivable.”
It always took Merve a while understand exactly understand her words and the intent behind them. Most often, the understanding would come to her gradually; there wasn’t any ‘eureka’ moment as such. She would see the truth of Rumaina’s words stitched in subtle colors around her- in people she lived with or in the patterns of situations/events.
In case of this particular statement, Merve when 14 year old, had an ugly spat with her mother. She often argued with her mother about how her father’s belongings should be chucked away and why he is not going to return. This time though, Merve went further and called her mother weak.
She pretended to be angry. But it was because of guilt and shame that with a deep frown and agitated steps Merve left home to find Rumaina, her 20 year-old neighbour, at the park where she spends her evenings babysitting kids of other neighbours who worked late.
On spotting Rumaina under a tree talking sweetly to a kid, invigorating the morose sky, shady clouds and cold breeze with her bright smile, Merve felt calmer already. Merve narrated the incident to Rumaina, all the while hiding her tears behind long pauses and lots of blinking.
That’s the day Rumaina said those words to Merve and that’s the day she began to notice the hope in her mother’s sad eyes, the dignity in her silence, the desperation in her anger and the strength of her broken heart.
Rumaina also used to say that, “A woman should take of her purse”; that “Keep learning. A mind should keep churning its wheels”; that, “ Our mind, heart and soul are our true companions anyway.” She used to say all that and much more.
Today, six years after that evening, Merve sits on the opposite sofa listening to Rumaina, for a millionth time talk, about her obnoxious in-laws, her career that didn’t pan out, how noone listens to her and how she is right about most things. It could have been her emotionally distant husband, disappointing married life or she must have simple changed, Merve couldn’t fathom; she is too baffled to see how someone’s world could have shrunk so easily. It seems surreal.
She mutes out the gossiping, nitpicking, complaining and thinks about all the things Rumaina used to say.