(day 22.1): the beginning of an ending

Grieving the departure of fictional friends and the lack of real ones

(day 22.1): the beginning of an ending
Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

It is still technically the 21st, 11:23 PM to be precise, but by the time I post this, I reckon the 22nd would be upon us already.

I've been asleep for two hours, and awake for a restless one after that. And I know, I know, I said earlier that today was a rest day. But ever since I finished reading Thirst No. 4, my heart has been in turmoil. And unless I stop talking to myself and give my thoughts a place to go, I'd go stark raving mad, I'm sure.

For you see, Thirst No. 5, The Sacred Veil, is the last book in the series, and I have no desire to read it and complete the series anytime soon. I'd be devastated when I finally have to part ways with Christopher Pike's 5,000-year-old vampire, Sita, and I wish to prolong that eventuality for as long as possible.

For someone who feels very alone in this world, friendship in fiction tends to grip me more than any other kind of relationship. I don't read much romance, but give me a story with lots of friendships that stand the test of time, and I'd lap it up, no questions asked.

As soon as I finished reading Thirst No. 4, I wrote to dear friend H, who introduced me to Pike's works. This work, in particular.

I was telling her how Sita was my least favourite character from Hindu philosophy back when I was a child growing up.

As far as I can remember, and my knowledge of Hindu philosophy and mythology and culture is not even a drop in the ocean, Sita was portrayed as a very docile character. She gets abducted by Ravana, she keeps waiting for Rama to come and rescue her, and eventually when he does, he doubts her fidelity, which she is compelled to prove by jumping into a pyre.

To me, it appears that this forms the basis of the kind of absurd expectations Indian society has of girls and women. Perhaps things have changed in the past 13 years since I left India, but expecting women to quietly bear the injustices wrought upon them was pretty much the norm, both in my own family and at my in-laws'.

No wonder, when D's arrival into my life turned me into some kind of Mama Bear and unleashed who I really am – someone who bears little resemblance to Sita – I overflowed with rage at the kind of societal pressure and expectations I had unwittingly been putting up with my entire life until then.

Naturally, I ended up distancing myself from family in the years that followed, both for their own sanity as well as mine, simply because of how traumatic it had been for me to keep complying with those kind of expectations that they still seem to hold of girls and women in general, including themselves sometimes, excluding themselves at others.

Was it a wise decision? I don't know. The isolation has certainly taken its toll on me, especially as we went through D's early childhood years and, later, the pandemic pretty much by ourselves.

In those years, I was reduced to a nervous wreck, fraught as I was with all that postpartum anxiety and rage and depression.

There was not a soul I could call and talk to and simply state how hard I was finding it all, how hard it was to raise a child and figure out what to do career-wise,  without losing my sanity in the process.

I still find life hard on many days. Writing feels difficult. Playing with D feels hard. I'm too caught up in an incessant swirl of thoughts to be actually present and do what I can in this moment.

I began seeing a therapist earlier this year, and simply knowing that there is a source of wisdom and support I can lean on in difficult times has boosted my mood and outlook significantly. Not entirely, but significantly.

And sometimes I can't help but wonder: would things be a lot different in my life if I had some support?

I reckon they would. For instance, I might be a little less risk-averse or be able to focus more on work and less caught up with more mundane daily concerns such as cooking and cleaning.

So in that case, the question I have now for myself is this: how do I create support for myself in my life and my work?

I don't have answers to this yet.

Which is probably why I love the idea of friends one can rely on. People one can trust.

Which is probably why I love Pike's Sita so much. She's quite an independent character, quite a badass, with an entire team willing to lay their lives down for her. And she does the same for them.

Reckon I live too much in fictional worlds than I do in the real one.

I'll really miss Sita when I finish reading Thirst No. 5, which is probably why I will not pick that one up yet.

As it is, I've already started reading Homecoming by Kate Morton, and am loving it. It is helping pare of the grief of losing Sita soon, and also reminding me of why I fell in love with writing in the first place!