Your body slumps over the edge of the bed. You are on the floor curled up like a little child. You shake uncontrollably. No tears come through—just guttural sounds of loss, pain, and grief. You know your body is revolting the death of this relationship—of four years and millions of memory cells murdered, yet struggling and seeking revival. Maybe this too shall remain a memory. You know that time will heal, yet scars remain.
Your mind takes you back to where it all began. It was so long ago, but only seems like yesterday.
You are thirteen, on the threshold of a being child-woman. You had gone to India for vacation in winter, the time of festivities; Dasara and Deepawali, “to understand and absorb your culture,” your parents had said.
It is Deepawali, the festival of lights on the moonless night in the month of Kartika. Every house in the neighborhood is lit with lights, small and big, old-fashioned candles, low energy LED’s and mud-diyas filled with oil— lit at dusk, and refilled and relit to keep the dark Amavasya night at bay. This is your favorite festival, more than even Christmas. Firecrackers crackle and burst leaving behind smoke, and little sparkles fall away like twinkling stars. In every home, there is food, fireworks, and family. Everyone is celebrating.
You are wearing a new red dress. You love your dress. You are twirling around and around in your frock, filling in air beneath the dress and propelling your own rotation, faster and faster.
Your head is light. Your body is nimble. Your mind is happy. You are in motion. You are laughing. Happiness fills the room. The room is spinning—the world is spinning. Then, everything outside of you—becomes one. Everything inside of you—becomes one. You become—everything. Everything—becomes you. In that oneness, you are outside and you are inside. Then nothing.
You are moving and then you are not. The moment pauses and you are not sure how long this lasts—the stillness encompasses everything around. Is it just an instant, or could it be hours or days?
Time and space mean nothing. You become the laughter. Joy becomes you. You become the earth you are spinning on. You are the air you breathe. You are the earth that moves. You are everything around you. You are the sound. You are the light. You are the darkness. You are nothing. You are Empty. You are Shoonya.
Then you feel the lick of fire. The sparkle from a cracker becomes bigger and brighter and hotter. Your skin scorches with the burn. The red dress becomes your skin. And then, the oneness of moment is lost.
You hear your own shrieks coming from a place you didn’t know existed. You smell things you have never smelt before. Your skin touches something deeper and inside of you. Your mind is dark. The room is dark. Then nothing.
You are now a statistic for Deepawali fire accidents.
It is eight years before you can see with your left eye again. The burnt skin sealed over your eye carefully snipped away with surgical precision.
You have missed nothing. Yet you are aware how nobody sees you in the same way again. And you see nothing in the same way again. You are an invalid and will be for the next eight years. You understand impermanence. You understand transience. You know what is true and what is not. You know the bliss of Shoonya
You have known this bliss only wearing a red dress. You experienced nothingness, and in that nothing you had everything. And, you have been trying ever since. You put on a red dress and close your eyes. You even twirl. You know you are being silly. But you believe. You are desperate. You will do anything to recreate that moment. You do not give up.
You are in your room, surrounded by boxes and an emptiness that always was. You see the madness of your life going back to that one moment. You understand the seeking. You feel the turmoil in the void. Then you look into the mirror and see the little girl in the red dress.