I’ve been absent a lot lately, mostly due to the fact that Shiva and I were back living together and our spare time was shared among each other. Then, literally hours before his parent’s plane landed, he took the bare essentials with him and moved to his sibling’s home.
We’ve had more than a fair share of disagreements, maybe even an argument or two on the subject of meeting his parents. He says that there is no point because they will never approve a marriage and he doesn’t feel comfortable with jumping straight into parenthood so marriage isn’t what he wants either. All he can say is that I am a good friend, and you don’t just introduce your parents to every good “friend” that also happens to be a girl you’ve lived with on and off over a year and with whom you had a serious relationship…serious enough to prompt a cross-country move. I’m still not okay with this end. I cannot make him introduce us, but I know that I cannot keep doing this if he isn’t even going to bother giving a face, a name, a person to the collection of stereotypes that his parents hold about me.
I helped plan the sibling’s graduation/parents welcoming/american and nepali family reunion party that Shiva hosted recently. I found the venue, helped pick the menu, negotiated the price, and drove Shiva, child, and I all around for a week to visit all the contenders for the event and spent even more hours than that discussing the pros and cons of each, doing financial analysis of each, etc. What an exhausting time! And I loved doing that for him and his family. It mattered to me that they had exactly what they wanted and I had a lot more experience than Shiva at planning parties for large groups, so it seemed natural to help him. I wasn’t invited and that went without saying. What really got me was that he wouldn’t even tell his sibling who is well aware of our “true” situation that I had such a role in planning this event. I just wanted the sibling to know, and he wouldn’t even agree to that.
Since “moving out” he’s had a sneak dinner with child and I while he was really somewhere else as far as his family knew. He calls really late at night as he whispers while hiding under his covers so that his family (also staying at sibling’s home) do not hear his late night check-ins with me. I want to be understanding and I think I have been so far. But I just want to meet them. My words to him only the night before last…”I just want to look them in the eyes.”
Enter the Universe: ever the joker. Last night I got exactly what I asked for, just not in the way I ever imagined it would happen. I was outside with my daughter on our apartment balcony that oversees our courtyard. And without explanation she bolts down the stairs and heads straight for the sidewalk. There were two walkers coming down the sidewalk and I barely noticed anything than there were two people. I got her to stop right as we reached the steps from our courtyard to the sidewalk. I looked up from my daughter and was staring directly into Shiva’s mother’s eyes.
Even if I’d never seen pictures of them, I would have known exactly who she was. I could see his eyes in her so clearly that it shocked me for a moment before I could even take in her whole face. I saw his sibling in her as well. Then I looked at her partner, exactly as I’ve seen his father pictured, including the same jacket, it was like looking at an older balding Shiva with different eyes. I only glanced at his father a second as his mother was staring at me with her mouth open.
After a moment that lasted far too long to accurately count, his father began to leave. But his mother just stood there. She would break eye contact only long enough to glance at my daughter and then straight back to my eyes. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t. I wanted to stand up and offer my hand, but I couldn’t. We just stood there, looking at each other, speechless. My daughter pulling on me, Shiva’s father pulling on her, and we couldn’t break the trance we found ourselves in. Finally, I looked down, I don’t think I took a single breath the whole time we were staring. She kept on with Shiva’s father and I stood to look after them. She turned and looked at me 3 times before they were out of view.
The anxiety had taken all my sense away, It took the ability to think, or speak. My daughter grabbed my hands and only snapped me back to awareness by performing a backflip with my assistance. I finally could breath again and just played with my little one, still reeling from the encounter. Then I saw her eyes again. They had turned around and were walking by again. His father was smiling, with the same pursed lips Shiva has when he smirks at me. I smiled back, wondering if he’d be smiling at me if he knew who I was or if he was smiling at me because he knew who I was. I was wearing a university shirt and wondering if they noticed the connection between my university hometown and Shiva. His mother was frowning but not in a sad or angry way, I couldn’t place the emotion. But she just held eye contact with me as she walked along with Shiva’s father.
I didn’t say anything. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believed I look right at them and couldn’t say a word. The gift I made them ages ago resting only a flight of stairs away, us only a handshake away and a few words away from meeting. And there she and I stood, both hypnotized by the other, and speechless.