Harry Potter and the Girl Who Lived

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything.
If you do, you start missing everybody.”
-J.D Salinger’s, The Catcher in the Rye

It hurts just to think of you. Not the ohmygod-I- miss-you kind of hurt, more the I’m-so-selfish kind. I think of you, and I feel empty, a vessel floating on the lonesome sea, its message, its essence lost in translation. There’s a void in the middle of my belly, not of losing you, no. I haven’t lost you, you’re here, right here, I’ve disappeared.
I didn’t disappear because I don’t love you (at least that’s what I’d like to believe), I disappeared because I was so lucky you survived, I got scared. I can’t let myself be that fearful again. Wrenched out of sleep, shrieking, rocking, praying: God if you save her, I’ll believe in you, I will. You were almost gone, the last flickers of a light bulb, but all of a sudden you plunged back and I felt the void of selfishness. I love you, but I can’t always be there, sitting next to you, teaching you to walk again, showing you new words, new possibilities. It hurts to think of you because I should care about you, but I can’t. I love you, but I can’t care about you. I’d care if you got hurt, I’d care if you ran away but I can’t care about your day, your night, your week, your month because it’s too hard knowing that you’re miles away, speeding on the treadmill, clearing up your speech, graduating ninth grade. I can’t hold your hand through it all. I can’t give you a hug every day, know that you are there, learning, grinning, breathing. It’s too hard to care about someone who’s more than a thousand miles away. I can’t sit here, texting you about some new guy you met or about my newest endeavors because with every letter I type I get a little more selfish, with every emoji I get a little more scared, wishing you’d push me away, wishing you’d stop caring.
 I want to be the first person you look to after therapy, I want to be standing right there, standing across the room, watching you walk to me, watching you get better everyday, watching you sing, more piya and drooling on my lap like that time on our road trip. I want to look at you and know that you remember me, know that you care about me, know that you need me. But how am I to, from all these miles away?
Selfishness drives me away. I want to believe that I cried for you, but I didn’t. I didn’t cry when Justin slapped me for laughing after the accident, I didn’t cry when they forced me to eat, I didn’t cry at school when they held the assembly to tell everyone you were okay even though you were still in a coma - I cried when you came home and I wasn’t the first one to see you. I cried the first time I met you after the accident, sitting next to Kevin, awkward, what am I to say? You’re my best friend for god’s sake and I can’t think of a thing to talk about? Selfish.
I visit Bombay and we go to Starbucks or CCI or your house and I think, can I handle this? I love you, but seeing you get better every time I meet you feels like I’m missing out on your life. It was a close call, what if I’m not next to you for the next one? What if I miss out so much of your life that if you do go away, I only knew the old you? I’m scared of not being next to you while you get better that I can’t bear the thought of staying.
I wish I could say I want you to get better and a part of me does, but the other part stubbornly wishes you’d stay the way you are so I can help you grow. Ma talked to George Uncle the other day and she told me that you might not be getting any better at all. I wish I’d thought, that sucks, but instead I thought, not without me. Selfish, see! I love you, I do. I just can’t let myself be on that brink of uncertainty, will you survive, do you remember me, am I going to be there when you stop using crutches, am I going to be there when you’re back to being the girl who laughed at the stupidest things, flipped head over heels for the first guy she met and sat on the staircase and planning her wedding before she’d found her groom?
Am I going to be there when you prove to them by finishing your exams? Am I going to be there when you meet a guy, fall in love, have the wedding you fantasized about? Am I going to see you recover, or read it in your memoir? Am I going to be there when they stop remembering you asThe Girl Who Got Hit By A Car and instead, barely remember you because you’re as normal as the rest of us? Am I going to be there to nudge you and grin, The Girl Who Lived. 

By Dvita Kapadia

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