My brain won’t let me rest.
It’s different than the restlessness at home. A mixture of jet lag and hovering near the edge of overstimluation, I decided to open my mind while overlooking this breathtaking view of the the world’s largest mausoleum. Even at 3 am, the Taj Mahal is beautiful. The breeze caresses my frame, and I swear it’s you. As I stare into the outline of a monument built from love, it’s only fitting.
The plush bedding, rich foods and amazing views ensured we fell asleep at the crack of evening. This hotel is gorgeous; the service is beyond words. Somehow I know you have something to do with it. I should still be asleep, but the love… The thoughts and the feelings of the past four days in this country won’t let me.
It’s so strange. I feel your presence. Not in the phantom way I did stateside where the noise of the heartache quickly reminded me otherwise.
My soul feels you here.
It’s as if you were tasting my childhood favorite, samosas, right alongside me after the chef personally made them since they weren’t on the menu. They were actually waiting for me as my appetizer at dinner. Can you imagine? Jamie + the Oberoi = quite a pair!
And I don’t feel I must fill you in on our trek to a city full of thousands of others like me — the place known as the city of widows.
While being a widow is difficult anywhere, here, women can be shunned and often punished simply because of something beyond their control. “Widow” is even a derogatory term. As I met with the “mothers,” I felt their strength and resilience. Some beautiful souls have stepped up to help them, providing shelter so the ladies are no longer reduced to begging and merely surviving in the streets.
Some were widowed in their 30s and 40s, and many others in their 20s and teens. They’re not allowed to remarry. Certain foods are prohibited. Wearing certain colors once was, too. And if they didn’t have children, there’s no chance of that now either.
They will wear the scarlet “W” on their chests for the rest of their lives.
Over the past decade, journalists have flocked to the remote, holy city to see them. They weren’t exactly happy to see me at first, but still welcomed me. And after they heard a bit of my story, I received my seat at the table — literally.
As grief poured out of me while listening to their stories, they held my hand. They felt our love and the depth of my loss as I shakily handed my phone with a picture of us to them.
“Four months. That’s nothing,” one said.
“My father died 30 years ago and my mother cried for him last night.”
There’s no easy way around this, is there?
I’ve learned to truly allow myself to feel — the good, the bad and the beautiful.
For now, I’ll try to get a few more hours of rest before our sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal. But you already knew that, huh?