She left the hospital after 5 hours. She left her there, all by herself, in pain, but these are the rules.
So, she has decided that she would have taken her miserable self, deluded and offended self, her angry self, out for dinner. She chose a quaint Indian restaurant, sat in a private corner, lit her candle and ate her food while trying to read a book. But she couldn’t. The two young waiters understood and left her by herself.
She thought about a 50 year old woman alone in a bed, scared and in pain, who checked in this morning by herself, whose brother could not come to visit because he has found love in the far east and there he has flown; and a father who came for half an hour, selfishly talked about himself, and left to get his tea ready.
She stayed there with this soul, by her side, holding her head while she tried to drink, taking her to the ladies when she needed, caressing her hand and her forehead hoping she could find, somewhere inside herself, some rest. But she kept repeating: I can’t believe m’dad…
After 11 months they haven’t spoken (because, in her words, she was ashamed) Wendy called her. Because, she said, she is reliable.
And then there is this woman, alone in an Indian, eating some food prepared by someone who doesn’t know anything about her, this woman who is by herself reading a book while outside it rains and it seems that another Christmas is just round the corner and she should be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else, talking about anything, or even back to that ward but not here, not now.
Sitting behind her, a couple. She laughs too loudly and he has asked to have the TV on. At another table, a birthday party. The girls giggle and drink while the men watch the match. In this Indian, lit by candle lights, with a scent of spices and a subtle music from the bar, they are all about the same age. They have all turned that corner, they are all descending.
What has happened to all of them?
What will happen to us, tomorrow, she asks me.
She shouldn’t be there. She eats her food, she drinks her wine, she looks at the book and she shouldn’t be there. Not like this.
Images of women just floods my mind: that lovely friend, back home, who one night called, glass of wine in her hand, because she just went and fiercely slapped her husband’s lover on the cheek; my mother, always dancing, in tears, in her living room, dying alone; that friend here, in this foreign land, who went home one day to her partner and simply said: have you got anything to do on Saturday? No? Good. Coz we are getting married; that woman who doesn’t know me but knows a lot about me and who ended her letter not addressed to me with: what a pity you lost her; this woman today, cold and frightened; my grandmother who waltzed, me in her arms, every night, for her husband’s eyes; my two old aunties who daily threatened to killed each other and lived shouting and laughing well in their 90’s; my mother-in-law, ashamed of her own son, and who, in the end, was right; another mother-in-law-to-be who died, alone, in a cellar, silently, not to disturb anyone; another friend, back home, who is still in love, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, with a man who is married and lends her handfuls of minutes whenever he can steal them; or that other perfectly beautiful woman who, married, betrays her husband with whoever rents the house behind the fence and feels offended when her husband, actually, falls is love with someone else, and leaves her.
I think about all of them, and their daughters. And her, still sitting there, eating her dinner.
You can have lunch, alone. But dinner? Oh, your table knows you, when you are living alone.
When she gets home, she dances and cries. And the whole of her body cries that night.
For all the women out there, for all the men out there, for all the lost opportunities, for all the only if’s…
She dances to a symphony with the sound on mute.