Quantum of solace
Zoynab Ria

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I wasn’t familiar with the horror one feels when their parents die till the dawn I opened my eyes to my father’s dead body. That was the day I knew I had so many things to tell my father, but it was already too late, my daddy dearest made his journey to the land no one comes back from.

I did not understand what to do. I have never been there before. Being 23 and almost the eldest of the family I couldn’t decide how to console my mother, and my younger siblings. I never learnt how to communicate verbally with the people I share my room and my life with. Would it look very forced if I pet my mother a little to soothe her? Of course it is flaky and illogical if suddenly I try to tell my brother how much it broke me to see him giving his shoulder to his father’s coffin at the age of 13; won’t I look overly emotional and fiery? Would it make any sense? It was bad enough that I never told my father how much I love him when he was alive. Indeed, I was not the only one who was dealing with this suffocating plight, but my whole family, each and every one of them; we all were emotionally separated from each other for a while; and it was difficult to grind in a day.

I wondered and tried to figure out why this was happening to us. We were not cyborg, we were not bionic, we all were aware of the cramps which would burst into tears at any time. Why we always prefer to keep our pain locked inside our hearts? Why is it so hard to talk about what we have in our mind? Why do we always think it will cost us too much, to reveal what’s in our soul? Why are we programmed to be so frozen when it comes to show a little care?

Maybe the answer was somewhere just around the corner.

Maybe it was the outcome of something we have been preparing for a long time or since the day we were born.

Maybe, I would have to take a long walk to get to the explanation.

From the rise of civilisation, we know that the society has divisions or classes. There are pecking orders or certain hierarchies that we follow to classify every individual. The civil community has certain standards and rules, cultural norms and barriers for the entire living creature that belongs to it. But as we may illustrate in actions, as if all the communal rules, restrictions, policies and barriers were only made to be followed by the one who stays in the middle. The elites break rules not worrying about the fallout, while the working class is not bothered about losing social status for doing something forbidden. The rich have a lot to compensate with and there are no penalties to forfeit for the poor. But when it comes to the one who has a few things, which need to be spent very wisely, whether it's money, or a speech or a little walk in the park, it requires the ability to swim with and against the tides.

One of the many adjustments a middle income family has to make is that they have to align budget for everything. They have been raised conceiving the theory of “cut your coat according to your size.” There ought to be schemes for everything they deal with in everyday life. The little girl may have to skip booking her favourite dress at the store, or the little boy keeps on playing the same old game on PS3 throughout the year. A fixed allowance and a limited salary can only allow them to have access to limited purchase. Not to mentionlimited conversations, a limited friend circle, limited expressions, limited involvements or else, who knows a drip of salt may ruin the whole pan cake. They can only perish the thought of never turning into a penny pincher. A series of compromise is a bitter pill that they have to swallow on a regular basis.

Being raised in a middle class surrounding, I figured out we are bound to love in fixed terms as well. The regular activity of limiting association drives us to limiting our emotions gradually; at least, to most of them. They have to justify logic over emotion; if any love can turn out profitable at the end or not, if a relationship is going to last forever; otherwise if it is just for a while, it is wiser not to invest much. They start rationalising the outcomes for loving someone drop by drop; step by step – an unconditional love may cost them big debt, and some may wind up failing out to curb that damage. Proportionately, a father considers it too dramatic to put hands on his daughter’s forehead to check the fever, a wife thinks it might seem phoney if she sends her husband a text saying, “I miss you” every day or in a while; a brother feels harsh criticism will save his sister from engaging in illicit activities than sweeter words of guidance. Showing a little care seems totally unnecessary and fancy. This leads them to apathy, which limits their sentiments; and sometimes it costs the earth to repay. Sometimes, one sided apprehension leads to misgiving and unexpected rejection. Sometimes an assertion of fondness sires for dismissals. Occasionally the little girl never realised father was busy procuring her future while she missed him while crossing the road forlorn. A husband might miscalculate his wife’s compassion towards their relationship; a sister will always think she was born on the wrong side of the blanket. And they become distant from each other.

Although just in the nick of time we actually manage to get hold of ourselves from wasting emotions on non-returnable profit- we cannot deny there is something to it. There is something to “not mixing love with commerce.” There is something to disclosing affinities, your home is where you should lay your hat, even when you are not in the lap of luxury there is something to love without expecting profit in return. In this said borough, it is good if every so often we choose not to learn how to be concerned about budget. Once in a blue moon, it may help to search for ways to make pies in the sky; or to wear hearts on sleeves or to lose control. It’s comforting to believe that love can actually beget love. It's thoughtful to shop without budget at times, It's perceptive to work things out from heart, to say what we feel, to show off affections. It's generous to deposit love on blank cheques with or without a despair that it may bounce back; whether it’s to a father, or to the brother or to the cat we cuddle with or just the ceramic mug we sip morning coffee from. It is magnanimous, amicable to speak your heart out, to share your nuisance to your people. This selfless love is a treasure trove- this devoted care is worth its weight in gold.

Because, you never know when it is too late -

Some people went to meet their maker out of starving,

Some for not having access to proper medication,

Some were kissed to death for being diseased or hindrance.

But there are these flesh and blood people.

They are alive.

They work, they pay their bills.

They have family, parents.

They eat, they sleep, they are healthy, and they are scheduled to get all the medications on time.

But our hearts are impaired for being suffocated with untold grief and undisclosed confessions.

We die - from the inside- at times- in dearth of love and in a yearning desire to get a little care from dear ones.

And we still have a little hope that someday somehow all the scattered pieces of our divine hearts will be clustered in amity. 

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Zoynab Ria

Zoynab Ria is a former communications officer and is now working as a corporate executive and freelance writer.