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This Broken Heart

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Suraj was eight years old when he witnessed evil for the first time. A stranger, a man he understood to be his maternal uncle, tried to do something terrible to the woman he cared for more than his mother.

He was too young to understand the nature of the violence but he could understand the look in Vandana's eyes, her shouts of protest and her cries for help.

He tried to help her, but was too small.

There had been a clatter, a flash of silver and a tiger. Then, all was still.

Suraj had killed that man.

He was a little boy in shock with blood staining his school clothes. Vandana swore him to secrecy and hurried him from the room. That was the last time he saw her.

Standing beside his father, he watched his uncle's pyre burn and with it the memory of blood on his clothes. Nobody ever spoke her name. After the ashes were collected no reference to her was ever made again. They all said she had done the murder. She. Her. That woman.

After his uncle's ashes were immersed, nobody ever spoke of the event to him again. Nobody questioned him or blamed him. He was allowed to forget. He had to forget.

Little Suraj was forced to rise above the the pain left in his heart. It hurt, missing the mother he was not allowed to ask for anymore. It hurt to dream of tears and blood without comfort when he awoke. It hurt to feel the hovering shadow of guilt and not know what to do.

So, he pushed the event away from himself until he was never even sure it happened. Until he wasn't even sure Vandana Aunty had been real or an imaginary friend. Until he didn't even remember her anymore.

At the age of twenty, Suraj didn't know what rooted his desires and aspirations. He'd forgotten a moment, a woman that had cemented in his heart the need to protect. Like his father he couldn't know, he lived joyfully and flew the skies like a bird. He was in love with Renu. He was the apple of his parents eyes. He was the warm glow in an old woman's heart.

When he met the old woman at the airport he could not remember her, but his heart beat for her. He was drawn to her immediately. She radiated a joy all for him and made him feel peace he couldn't remember feeling before. Inside of him, his heart had stopped missing his mother. It knew that she was right there with him.