The Night Raged On
Some of my readers have asked me to share my travels and how being vision and hearing-impaired has impacted them. I chose this story because with the time change, darkness seems to overwhelm so many of us now. I started to write about the physical strain on my eyes, but then my tale went in another direction. India was a dark country. It was the kind of darkness that hung like a curtain and divided night and day. On that trip, the physical darkness I dealt with symbolized the darkness I was carrying around with me. I could hide it in the daylight but at night, my intense grief surrounded me at every turn.
Manaltheeram, Kerala (South India).
I slid the bamboo door shut and felt for the light switch in the hut. A stark bulb hung high on the center beam of the inside thatch, casting a wan, sickly light as if fearful to venture out from the secure socket. The mosquito net that engulfed the bed–the focal point of the room–diced that already diffused light into minuscule cubes in the murky shadows.
I strained to find my way over to the heavy wooden desk. I could hear the sudden rain pelting against the nearby window. Palm fronds brushed against that loose-fitting wooden cover and made the window rattle. I gathered early on from the young Indian maids who cleaned my room that the sudden downpours and howling was typical of the rainy season.
The huts wound their way up steep banks that overlooked the sea. Gusts of wind whipped the waves into a frenzy and the palm trees on the hill took the brunt of the gale.
As quickly as it started, it would stop.
Backpack on the floor, I sat in the chair and unscrewed the lid to the thermos filled with hot water the restaurant server had insisted I take back to my room. I poured the water in a glass and added a tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter). “Healthy, huh?” I sipped the water.
All right, let’s get to the other stuff,” I mumbled. I unscrewed the lid of another small jar. I peered into the thick, caramel-colored liquid and slowly brought it to my lips and forced it down. I didn’t gag this time so I guess I was making progress. The Ayurveda doctor had assigned this strange gluey mixture to me to build up my immune system after I told her of the ordeal with losing the twins. She’d clucked and sighed. “Too long you wait,” she said.
As she addressed my physical losses from three years earlier, my hands constantly roved, smoothing the folds of the green robe I wore. The same type of robe everyone wore around the Ayurveda resort before and after their hot oil treatments.
When I first arrived, the respected doctors there explained Ayurveda medicine and treatments this way to me — I had to ensure the inside of my body was balanced so that the outside would be healthy. It all started from within. The oils were important in cleaning out the toxins and the massage got the blood moving.
Restless, I wandered around the dark shadowy hut. I peeked into the small attached bathroom. It contained a sink, western toilet and a shower divided from the rest of the room by a narrow cement ledge. In late mornings, I loved the feel of the tepid water as I scrubbed off the oil after my treatment.
I closed my eyes and when I opened them, I still saw the shadows dancing around the wall. I tried to listen carefully. Aren’t your other senses supposed to get more keen when another sense weakens?
I wandered over to the windows. The rain had stopped so I opened a window to let some air inside. I heard the roar of the sea far below me. “People pay to hear the sea,” I chided myself when it began to get on my nerves. It’s restful. In my state, it sounded ominous and I walked back over and dragged the window shut.
I climbed into bed under the mosquito netting and lay there. The air felt heavy. Hot. If I turned on the overhead fan, though, it was too loud and the fan rippled my covers. I fiddled with the controls for awhile but couldn’t see how to adjust it. Even the lowest setting was too much air for me. But I was sweating so I left it on.
I clutched my flashlight to my side and the thin stream of light comforted me. I also kept the light on overhead. Without it, the room was pitch black.
As I closed my eyes and tried to relax, a cold hard knot settled into my stomach. I could hide the truth from the rest of the world but I couldn’t hide it from myself. It was why I had come to India. It was why I had come alone.
There were still excuses to present to people. “My husband is finishing his MBA.” Thank goodness, it was true. But soon he’d be done and then what would I say?
I don’t even know what happened. When we lost the twins, somehow we lost a part of ourselves. How could we turn back time to a happier day? How could he want a life without me? How could he give up after just a few years? Ours was a lifetime dream. He said he would think a million times before ever leaving me because of all we went through to be together.
His words echoed in my head, buzzing like the mosquitoes that somehow made it through the netting, ‘I have to make the break because you’re not strong enough to do it. Otherwise, we’ll hate each other. Do you want that?’
I had pleaded, cried, made promises that I didn’t know if I could keep. “I’ll try again. I’ll be able to carry a baby this time, I know it.” That’s what I said when I miscarried the second time.
Maybe if I just open one window, I can turn off the fan.
This mosquito net feels so suffocating! It kept tangling up on me. It didn’t look at all like the one in Out of Africa, neatly tied back and airy, leaving tons of space in the bed. Not this one. What if … someone knew I was alone, sneaked into my cottage while I was sleeping, tied me up and strangled me with the net?
Silly thoughts like this flashed through my mind. All night long Manaltheeram had security guards patrolling the foot paths that led up to each hut.
Dear Lord, you know my heart. Let me accept the decision and go on with my life. There are fundamental differences that can never be resolved between us. So he’s right. But it’s terribly hard to come to terms with it all.
It’s so dark in India! It’s so dark inside me right now. I feel like I’m that pale light hanging from the rafters and I can only see the immediate area around me. I’m trapped within a finely-woven mesh of fears within myself that won’t let me breathe. All the external factors that I have no control over – the raging night, the loud sea, this stupid hot room. They’re inside me. I didn’t dare articulate my real anxieties though they danced unspoken among the shadows–the pre-term babies I lost, the collapse of my marriage, my dreams…
I picked up my slender flashlight and as I looked at the beam shining across the cover, a verse came to me, My Word is a Lamp for your feet and a Light for your path.
I hugged that flashlight close to me. God would see me through this darkness too.
Where have you traveled to be alone with a problem? Were you able to find peace or did it elude you? What is your favorite place to go when you are troubled?
You have just read, “The Night Raged On” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright November 4, 2015. Don’t forget to take a moment and leave a comment below. Thanks!