The sharp tug on her finger snapped her out of her reverie. The credits of his favourite show were rolling on the screen and her little one was gesturing to the door. “Come on,” he said with yet another sharp tug.
She had tried to keep occupied ever since that day 2 months ago. After every evening snack, she would take him to the playground. He needed to get out of the house, and so did she. The house was suffocated with too many memories, too many firsts and too many lasts. She enjoyed the playground just as much as her little one. She would watch him as the girls, both young and old, flocked around him. He never paid much attention to the boys; and she always wondered why. He had his favourites – two girls who made his body shiver with excitement. He would run towards them as they entered the ground, as fast as a two-year-old could. She loved these moments – her mind was as far away as possible from reality, her heart felt lighter and her body felt relaxed.
But today she didn’t want to go to the playground. Today she wanted to take her little one some place else. She didn’t have the strength to go there with him for the past two months. After all, how did she expect a two-year-old to react.
She went through her routine – packed her bag with his diaper and water bottle and wrapped him up in his best clothes. Today, he was going some place special; he had to look his best.
He pulled her away as she tried opening the car. “Play,” he said. They always walked to the playground; he knew he wasn’t headed there today. She strapped him to the car seat, and opened her own door. She contemplated just driving to the playground instead before starting her car, perhaps the little one wasn’t ready yet. She looked back at him peacefully playing with a toy. “Mama,” he said, “come on.” That was all she needed to hear. Without another thought, her car was out of the parking and on the road.
She was never good with directions, but she could have driven there with her eyes closed. But today she paid special attention to every stop sign and every turn she took. She paid attention to every noise her little one made, and every word he muttered.
Before she knew it, they were there. She pulled into her regular parking spot and pulled the hand brake. She sat there for a while staring at the gate. For the past two months, she had come here alone. Her little one would be with her mother, safe and protected. He didn’t need to be exposed to this so young. But today, exactly two months after that day, she knew that her little one had to know. He wasn’t old enough, but he deserved to know. For how long could she hide the truth from him? For how long could she pretend in front of him? For how long could she look into his little brown eyes and lie? He was smart, and the questions would soon start.
She felt that familiar warmth as soon as she entered. Her friends had told her that she was the first person to feel warm there. But she knew why. She took the last right after she entered, and looked at her little one, as he scanned the place. He was perhaps looking around for other kids. “Surely he thinks I’ve lost my mind to bring him to such a dark place,” she thought. She stopped a few feet later. Taking the candles out of her bag, she proceeded to light them. She looked at her little one as she placed the candle on the ground. His eyes were fixated on the ground; it almost looked like he was reading what was written in disbelief. “Joshua Menezes,” it read, “Loving son, brother, husband and father. Born 26-12-1979. Died 19-5-2012.”
She hugged her little one as she held his hand to make the sign of the cross. A lone tear crawled down her cheek. Any inhibitions she had about bringing her little one there vanished into thin air as she heard him say, “Dada.”