Thursday, 4 November 2010
It's A Cold And It's A Broken Hallelujah
"Love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah." - Leonard Cohen
Tomorrow is November fifth.
November fifth. And November fifth, 2009 was the day we sat in the sweltering court room in Colombo waiting to be called into the judge's private room. Sat with beating hearts and sweaty hands in our formal attire, while behind us William sat in his biological mother's arms and beside her sat one of the sisters from the convent, eyes closed, silently praying her rosary in the midst of the noise and heat and crowd. We were called, one by one to answer questions. Each answer was to end with a small bow and the word "Sir". I was afraid I would forget my name, my age, my reasons. It proceeded with an air of unreality. We all answered what was asked, it was translated, transcribed, the symbolic act of William being placed in my arms by his biological mother in front of the judge was somehow managed.
I felt so clumsy. Inept.
Several more minutes passed. We were done. It was done. It was really, really done. We walked out of the private room. Couldn't meet anyone's eyes. Down the stairs. Out the doors. Into a heat that suddenly felt oppressive. We took William, were told by someone, no, no, no, not here...wait until we are farther from the building. Down the street. We walked. Per and I, our guide, William's biological mother and William and the kind nun. "Now." On the side of a crowded narrow street. I met her eyes. Held out my arms, wasn't sure what to do. Nothing felt as I thought it would.
(I don't want to write about William's biological mother's grief or try to imagine what she may have felt at that moment. I don't want to cheapen it with my words and interpretations.)
But I will remember.
Taking William in my own arms. This time not symbolically. The nun reaching over and making the sign of the cross on his forehead. His screams as I took him. The sight of his mother walking away, bent over, the nuns arms around her. Mohan saying "let's go". The people on the street stopping whatever business they were busy with and watching. The car ride back to the hotel which only lasted minutes. I held William in my arms in the backseat. Cried. Cried. Cried. "I'm so sorry baby. I'm so sorry. So sorry."
There were no outside the court building pictures. This was love on all sides but it didn't feel like victory. Not at the moment it occurred. It was gut-wrenching heartbreak. It was incomprehensible. It was life in an imperfect world.
I couldn't write about it then and I find it very hard to write about it now. This day was agony. This day was joy. An end. A beginning. A changing of hands. An answer to prayers. An uprooting.
So no, love is certainly not always a victory march but somewhere under all this pain, there were strains of a cold and very broken hallelujah.