As the bus trundles over the bridge, I look down at the reflection of red, yellow and orange of the dusk sky onto the water. When I was small, father would take me on a boat ride on this river every Sunday right before the sunset. And I used to call it the yellow river. I smile absently at the naivety of my younger self. Mother would laugh at me as well. But she, for some unfathomed reason, never corrected me. Probably she knew this innocence was a visitant who would stop inhabiting my heart pretty soon. I look up at the sky and for a fleeting moment, my eyes freeze. It feels I’m still seated on the boat with father standing by my side and looking far into the horizon. I ask him why the Sun sets. And he, as usual, smiles and says, ‘because, son, it has to end the darkness for people living on the other side of the world…’. He could make the most difficult phenomenon sound the simplest. I wish he did the same after I grew up into a person who hated his father.
The bus comes to a sudden halt jerking me out of my flashback trip. I look around. It has stopped at the queue of a toll gate. I have left the yellow river behind! How could I not have realized it? I look behind longing for one last glimpse. But what’s gone is gone. And this sudden epiphany takes me ten years back to the day I left my village so I could stay away from father. His existence had started to sting me. Why? Because he had again chosen happiness after mother’s death; because, unlike me, he had not indulged into self-destructive addictions; because he married a woman who claimed my mother’s place in his heart and my life. I close my eyes and let out a deep sigh. I wish I realized it sooner that I’d left the yellow river behind.
The bus starts again. I wait until it reaches the end of highway and get off. Some moments in life cannot be relived again; nor can we go back to them. But they can be recreated as long as we have not left our lives behind.
I ring father. ‘Can you meet me at the yellow river?’
Written by Chirasree Bose