It has been a bad week. Depressing news from my old parents in India, health problems, car trouble and money woes. You name it and I have it. To top it all, yet another agent has rejected my synopsis for my first novel.
I feel sad. I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed. I want to cry. So I shut off my computer and get the tissues out.
I look around at my clean kitchen. The sunlight makes everything sparkle. I see the crystals, candles and flowers placed just right to create positivity and happiness. I cannot cry here. The uplifting atmosphere I work so hard to create will be ruined.
I have to cry somewhere else, I tell myself. I snatch up my car keys and purse and drive aimlessly for a few minutes. Finally, I pick my church. I go into the dimly lit, incense-filled peaceful sanctuary and my tense shoulders automatically relax. I kneel, I genuflect, I light candles, pray and head to the back of the church.
As I get ready to break down, the parish priest comes up to me: "Bless you, my child. The church brightens up with all the candles you light every time you come in," he says and he makes the sign of the cross.
I watch people bow their heads reverently as they entreat God for hope and solace.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, I cannot cry here. I leave dejected.
I go to the library. I smile at the familiar faces as they greet me and lock myself in a restroom stall. I take a deep breath and the door opens.
"I have to find somewhere else to cry. I try. I really do. But every place is either equipped with cameras or security guards or people."
"Mommy," I hear a little excited boy. "Will they read 'Wheels On The Bus' for story time today?"
"I don't know but it will be fun," answers the mother. I hear a happy giggle.
There are kids here. People looking for entertainment and education. They need their space uncluttered by bad energy.
I can't cry here either. I leave. I drive for miles. I pass a shopping mall. Maybe here, there will be a quiet place, I think. It's crowded. I go into a clothing store and see women browse through the sale rack. I see them carrying armloads of clothing to the private changing rooms.
Then it hits me. I grab jeans, shirts and jackets and go there. I settle down on the bench and take my tissues out. Then I glance up, right at the surveillance camera.
I can't cry here. I leave and I drive straight out of my town. I park my car near a bridge and I walk to the edge.
Before I can even take in all of the breathtaking view, I hear the screech of tires. It's a police car and an officer is walking towards me.
(Created by artist @mitenlapsiya)
"Ma'am, are you having car trouble?" he asks. I shake my head.
I am aware of his scrutiny.
"I am just here because I want to take some pictures," I say softly, hoping I don't sound defensive.
"For social media?" he asks. I nod.
"You are standing very close to the edge," he points out.
Holy Cow! He thinks I am going to jump.
"I'm leaving. I'm done," I say. I walk away but I feel him watching me, as I walk back to my car.
I have to find somewhere else to cry. I try. I really do. But every place is either equipped with cameras or security guards or people. I feel eyes on me, watching, assessing and judging.
After September 11, 2001, the United States has gotten paranoid about terrorist attacks and has become a country obsessed with security. There are surveillance cameras everywhere. Police, security and other vigilant watchers discreetly scan people, looking for patterns. Anyone or anything that is different sets off alarm bells.
Exhausted, I return home. Smile at my family, make dinner, clean, shower and crawl beneath my sheets.
My eyelids are as heavy as my heart but I can't cry. My family will hear me. I am the strong one, I am the caretaker and I cannot show them I am having a weak moment. It might make them sad.
Tomorrow, I promise myself. Tomorrow, I will find a place to cry.