Today feels all jumbled up in my head. Nothing happened over the weekend, and everything didn’t. Kids kept coming to my house to learn things. I was sick. I didn’t get much time to process anything, and yet I did manage to process some things. So I am kind of trying to catch myself up now.
My life really doesn’t make sense without all the pieces together, and it’s actually really dreadful. There is before Nata died, which was hell. There is while she died, which was horrifying. There is after, which is just a blank kind of struggle to move through the quicksand of despair. Separately, it’s dreadful. Together, it starts to make sense, and there is some beauty in it. There is this idea that despite all the horror and all the evil, we remained human. We tried to love each other and we tried to help each other.
Why I was saved, I think I’ll never be able to fathom. I think it’s one of those things you can’t ever really grasp. But it’s there. I was that loved. Nata loved me and she died because of it. The others loved me so much they risked their lives.
There is—or was—a sense of betrayal about it. How could they let Nata die?
And what I kept waking up from all last week is the memory of Grusha talking to me. Holding me while I cried, and talking to me, and I don’t really know what she said, except that it was said with a lot of love, and I know she was trying to help me understand what had happened.
The betrayal made me wonder if everything I had felt before had been unreal. My friends felt genuine. They felt as though they really cared, and yet maybe they didn’t care. After all, they let Nata die. I didn’t know who to trust anymore. All of the good felt washed out of life, because I no longer knew what to think.
Well, I know now they loved Nata. They also loved me. And they were teenagers, trying to make life and death decisions. They did the best they could. Maybe they did the right thing and maybe they didn’t, but they did their absolute best.
The other piece is that C reminds me of Grusha. The way she leads reminds me of Grusha, but I think she also looks like her. I think that has been the biggest trigger all along, and it makes me think it was Grusha who led me away from Laila’s body, who took me outside to the faucet and washed my bloody feet and hands for me. She must have been 11 or 12 then, and I think Nata had not come. That is why I had to process everything connected to Laila’s death and all of the other murders—Grusha was so intimately connected to them, because she had been there in the presence of Laila’s body when I was only four or five.
Anyway, perhaps because of this, I have ended up telling C things I maybe shouldn’t. It has happened twice—maybe the first time was okay. I didn’t say much. That was before midterm, and C wanted to know why I wasn’t married, and I told the truth. That I loved someone, and I can’t get past that. But I said something else the other day. We were chatting—C’s favourite teacher went to Australia last week, and I set C up with a Facebook account so they could stay in touch. So now she chats with me too sometimes, and I had had a terrible day on Friday. I told her that. I told her I can’t sleep and I told her I am dreaming about Nata’s death, although not that it is Nata. Just “that person.” I don’t know why I did, but I did.
Now she wants to know more. I don’t really understand why. If an adult told me something like that when I was 13, I wouldn’t want to know more. I would think this all seems too intense and I want no part of it. But anyway she begged me to tell her on Monday. I said yes. Then I realized I can’t do that. It’s much too hard at school. So I told her that. She argued about it a bit—I think she thought I was retracting my promise. I asked if I could tell her somewhere else. She was going to come to my house on Sunday, then her mother didn’t come home. She couldn’t leave her siblings alone. She didn’t.
Still, I spent all weekend thinking about it. What do I say? What is too much? What is not enough? How do I tell the story so that the evil of it doesn’t over-ride everything else? How do I tell it so that she doesn’t end up with more confusion that she started with? And also what is it she really wants to know? And also do I understand my own story well enough to tell it?
Then on Monday morning we met for maths tutoring. She came on time. She thought she was late, but she wasn’t. And it was all really quite normal. It is the most normal it has felt to me since I started talking to her two months ago. There weren’t a thousand things going on inside me that I couldn’t process. I taught her math—she had some questions—then she needed to study for a spelling test. All of it was fine.
These days, I am starting to think that life isn’t going to be great now. It’s not like I stumbled into utopia. I stumbled into average. It is going to be wretched sometimes and wonderful at other times—probably less wretched than when I was a child and maybe also less wonderful. It is going to have ups and downs. But what I have stumbled into is something new. New and different and gradually less and less extreme. I am starting to see Holland on the horizon perhaps. I don’t know.