On Sadness

On Sadness

Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys.

Yesterday morning, Rahi stood in the doorway, dressed and ready for Anni to take him to kindergarten.

Are you coming too, he asked?

No, I said. Mum’s going to take you.

You should come, he said.

I looked at him, his need and his love so open. It made my heart ache a little.

I can’t, I said. But, Rahi, tell you what, I’ll come pick you up, okay?

Annika came and they left.

About 10 minutes after he left, I realised I’d screwed up - I had a meeting which meant I couldn’t go pick him up. I felt bad, tried to shrug it off. It happens, I told myself.

I stopped working straight after my meeting ended, at around 1.30. I went upstairs to say hello to Rahi.

Then I said, Rahi, I need to tell you something.

He paused in between the model trains. His head tilted a little. He had that look he has when he’s paying attention.

I’m sorry I didn’t come pick you up today, Rahi, after I said I would.

He didn’t say anything but he was clearly listening.

I forgot I had a meeting, I said. I’m sorry.

Rahi gets this faraway look sometimes when you don’t know what’s going on, but you can clearly tell that he’s somewhere else. He had this look now. I waited.

Do you want to play, he said?


So we played. Trains and planes. We built a ba-ba-baa ship. He asked me if I had been bitten and I said no, so he got the crocodile and bit me and then asked me again, and I said yes. Does it hurt, he asked? Yes, I said. So then he pulled out his little doctor’s box and said it would hurt a little, but then it would be better.

At around 3, Annika reminded him that they’d be leaving shortly for a walk in the woods with lanterns. (It’s some kind of tradition here in Hamburg, don’t ask me what exactly.) She then left again and Rahi and I continued playing.

A few minutes later, he asked: Do you want to come on the lantern walk?

My heart sank. No, I said. I have to work.

You should come, he said.

You’re going with Mum, I said! It’ll be fun. All the other kids will be there too!

I don’t want to go with Mum, he said. I want to go with you.

A little bit later, he left with his Mum, and I carried a deep sadness with me for the rest of the day, a sadness with which I’ve woken up this morning.

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