There are landmines in your heart, you sidestep them all the time. You just do not know this.

Her face is crumpled, her hair is a mess.  There are tell-tale signs of sticky tears on her cheeks. Her lunch is uneaten and she doesn’t remember where she put her Maths books.

She doesn’t say much when you pick her up.  No sparkle in her eyes, no hug when you ruffle her hair. No excited chatter about school happenings, no giggles of lunch time memories. Just a sad silence. A little-girl-sad silence. The kind of silence that leaves icy fingerstains on your heart.

You leave her to change into her pyjamas and step out to get something from the car. When you come back, she has put the pyjamas on but she hasn’t changed out of her school uniform.  She cuts a forlorn picture in her mismatched attire, she is neither here nor there. Half dressed, half ready. Half girl, half child. Half sad, all lost.

Between giant sobs, the story comes out. Of fights with the best friends. Of things said that she didn’t mean. Of learning that when you allow someone in your world, they have every chance of hurting you.  And yet, the only sane option is to open the doors and throw out the keys and welcome a parade of love and friendship and hurt and trust into the streets of our heart. Because that is how we grow. And live. And find our way around.

She climbs on your lap and cries, all the while telling you how sad she is. And then something inside you churns and crushes and whooshes. A primal wave of love, a raw force so fierce that you are momentarily astounded at this depth of feeling.  You try to heal her aching hurt but she is still crying over the best friend who said she was best friends no more. In another time and another place, you have been there. With scraped knees, muddied school uniform, pig-tails askew. With hot burning tears hidden around the corner of your eyes. And so you know how much it hurts. And that primal wave drenches you again.

So you hold her tight and  you almost tell her she doesn’t need friends who dare hurt her. But instead you end of talking of how friends share secrets and make you laugh and hold your hand on the way to school library.  How friends are someone who will wait for you when you have not finished packing up and go with you when you need to go to big locker room. Someone who writes “hAppY birthyDAY” with sincere flourish on your  birthday cards and remember that you like pink diaries the best. Someone who will save you a place next to them at the concert and offer you a half eaten lolly. That is kind of the deal with this gig.

“Friends sometimes hurt each other”, you say. She sniffles.

“Friends don’t always do everything you like. That is kind of the deal too”, you say.  She says nothing.

And then you talk of the things that _really_ matter. Like hugs and secret giggles and the friends that save you seats and ask to share your sandwich and offer you a candy in return. 

“It is like a package deal”, you say. She looks at you.

“Sometimes you just got to forgive them”, you say. And in your mind you are saying “I am not forgiving anyone that dare makes my child cry. Ever.”

“Sometimes you just have to think of the nice things your friends did for you. It helps you forgive them the bad.” And in your mind you are repeating this mostly for yourself, because you need to remember that the best friend is a child too. And you do not feel like being an adult at the moment.

She smiles a little. One ray of sunshine on a frosty window-sill. So you call the best friend and let her talk. They talk for an hour. And then they hang up a bit happier. The next day at school, you notice that the best friend is still not “as best as before”. And those landmines in your heart pulsate with life and ask to be noticed.

You bend down and kiss her goodbye. And tell her to have a fabulous day. You watch while she runs to catch up with the best friend, who has forgotten to wait for her again. You tell yourself that life, at its best, is fair or unfair on a whim.  That she will be fine because you are going to see her through this. That friendships flourish and the heart will know and the heart will heal.

You drive off feeling like the child you once were. Your knees hurt, your shoes have dirt on them and you have burning tears behind your eyes. But when you catch her looking at you, you wave and smile.

So you walk off, one step at a time, looking upwards and then in that one moment, you realise that those landmines won’t hurt you if you refuse to acknowledge them.  Perhaps the only way ahead is by not looking down….


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Captain Nemo
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 19:46:43

    Awesome. This one is heartbreaking but something everyone relates to. Been there, felt that feeling.
    While it is true that landmines others laid do not hurt you if you do not acknowledge them, we would be shattered and gutted if we realize and acknowledge the ones WE have strewn around FOR those who love us. For we all know, landmines are by themselves neutral and will blow up everyone who treads them – does not recognize friends or foes.
    Thank you for another little nugget.


  2. Altoid
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 19:55:24

    S, I love you! You say this all so beautifully, where do you come up with such lovely terms? I loved the concept of those live landmines in your heart and that little nugget of advice to keep sailing forth without looking down. Gosh, so many- so many little words of wisdom , each one reminding one of one’s own childhood – of friends, of heart-aching breakups, of lost connections, of shared lunch-boxes, of playing hop-scotch together on a hot sunny afternoon during mid-day break….sigh!

    PS : I love you!


  3. bilbo
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 16:00:43

    Been there scary. You dealt with it really nicely.
    When I used to come back crying, I was told, ” better alone than in a company you don’t like.”
    Believe me, it has taken a long while to learn to make friends, to nurture those friendships and to keep them going. Even now, I sometimes sever relationships when I feel it is required.
    I am still learning to navigate the terrain here.
    This was as usual , an awesome read. Thanks for the whole blogathon idea.
    Take care.


    • scarlettletters
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 11:27:11

      Billy, I thought I did. And somewhere along the way, when I saw her hurt, I didn’t want to be the adult or the bigger person. It has taken me a lot of self control and let her heal without indavertantly adding fuel to fire. How will she heal till she learns to hurt?

      Love having you around here.



  4. Rajavel
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 22:22:08

    This was very moving ! Heavy !


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