There is this weird heaviness I feel. Like something’s not right. Like the cover of darkness is slowly sucking me in, one breadth at a time. There are good days and bad days and I’ve lately been riding this wave where I’ve felt happy, been content with what the universe was providing, accepting things for what they were and moving on. It wasn’t a sense of elation exactly but it was a sense of peace with what was going on and what was to come. You know that sense when you know that even though times are difficult, things will fall into place. And then I don’t know what did it, but somewhere I lost that peace again. I don’t know if it was personal relationships ( or semblances of relationships) that got my mind in or generally what was happening with the world. This morning as I scrolled through news feeds, all I saw was these angry rants about Trump, angry rants of Trump supporters, the Delhi air forcing people to leave the city, the endless queues outside banks and ATMs and people scrounging around for a basic semblance of life. And it just made me want to crawl under a cave and hide till the world becomes normal again. I hate this feeling- this utter despondency at the state of the world and not being able to do jackshit about it. Aarrggghhhh lets hope this passes soon and there is some method to this madness which will emerge soon and reinstate our faith in the world.
The birthday came and went. Like it does every year. And I think for the first time this year I didn’t feel that anticipation, that excitement, that giddiness of being the birthday girl. Yeah, it’s called age. I walked right into that one, I know🙂 Anyway, the birthday was well spent, with the closest gang of friends walking in at midnight with cake, followed by a team lunch the next day and a fantastic dinner with the midnight gang and two more of my closest at a very upmarket place. I should remember to mention here that I wore a pretty new dress back to front, to dinner, completely oblivious of the same till I suddenly saw a tag sticking out near my neck while sipping a drink. I thought I would let it go but then again its never fun till one can make an absolute fool of oneself. So dinner was spent just rolling over with laughter in bursts around the table, talking about my dress. Of course I could have gone and changed it around. But then it wouldn’t be so much fun, would it?
Anyway, as I turned a year older, something my friends thought they should remind me every half an hour, I sat back at night and thought of the year thats gone by. And I have to say I have surprised myself in more ways than one. Of course there have been cringe-worthy moments and as I thought of those times, I almost saw myself walk out of my body and slap myself for being so stupid. But, I have to say the good times outweighed the bad. I gained strength, emotionally and emerged out of depths I didn’t think I would. Often we dont realise how strong we are and these midnight contemplative exercises are really good shots at holding the mirror up to ourselves and while it does expose the raw, it also often shows us little halos around our head that we ignore. And it makes one feel good. Makes you realise that where you are today, with due respect to people around you, is also because you worked very hard and you should be proud and happy to have come such a long way. Makes you understand that there will be bumps on the road but you only know bumps, because you also know what a smooth road is like. And if it wasn’t for the bumps, a smooth road would be so boring and you would fall asleep and not even enjoy what the world has to offer. So the bumps keep us awake, keep us alert, keep us aware and keep us thankful that we are still moving on. Makes you realise the past is the past for a reason and while one can learn from the past and also perhaps think of it with a smile, its something that needs to be left behind. So all in all, while its been a difficult year, its a year I am grateful for because this year taught me that its OK to fall and its even better to get up again, dust my knees, put on a band-aid and start walking again.
So as I bid adieu to my youth and beauty, I smiled and went to bed, knowing that next year this time I still might not have what I really want from my core but I will still be a step closer than I am now. And that is worth walking on for!
The day the rain washed the window panes
And instead of being a child again
I sat and watched it alone
The day I turned the lock
Because there was nobody else
Who would run back to say “I didnt leave”
The day I pushed my plate away
Looking at the flowers, the crockery, the candlelight gleaming in the dark
And I couldn’t remember the words you said at dinner last
You died my love
In my heart, in my soul
But you lived on somewhere else
And in that life
I wish you create moments
That dont need you to die again
“Why do you take forever to choose curtains?” she heard him muttering under his breath, as she carefully tiptoed around the carelessly thrown curtains all over the floor. Giggling with excitement, yet quite determined about what she wanted, she ignored him with a smile, pouring over everything she liked, in absolute detail, unable to make up her mind. It was only an hour later that they both emerged from the shop, she triumphant, he looking absolutely bedraggled and bored. It was their first home together and she knew how she wanted it to look. Constrained by budgets, yet unbound by love, she would make sure they woke up in a sun-dappled bedroom every morning, the little glitzy polkis shimmering in the sunlight, against the white mulmul curtains that hung carelessly over her window.
The cartons seemed never-ending. They were stacked in all sizes. Some were labelled, some just had their names scrawled with a fading black marker. He was huffing and panting, lugging them across the rooms, trying to figure out at the earliest, what went where. Else it would be double the work he knew. She wasn’t one to let things lie around lightly and wait till the next weekend to unpack. The boxes seem to have multiplied in number she thought, looking down at them. Ten years. She was putting ten years into neat little boxes, labelling them room by room, naming them to be only her own. What would she do with his stuff though? Keep them in a separate box or pile them in with hers? Putting them together would be easier. But maybe it was best otherwise. They were his and she had hers. And now there wasnt a we.
Her fingers ran over the text message on her phone.” Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.
She had waited two months for a text to appear. Every morning as she woke, the first thing she did was look at the phone. She’s always had this habit since that fateful morning her mum had called about her dad. Not one to look at her phone incessantly or even bother to reply to texts, she had perhaps slept through the first two calls her mum had made to her that morning, thinking her mum was just calling in sheer nervousness. When she finally did answer her phone, it was just to let her know that she should get onto a flight right now because the man who was her idol was now lying lifeless, far away in a hospital in Calcutta. And that was the last time she ever ignored her phone.
Her mum now lived alone in that house she had never known to be hers and while it was morbid and fatalistic, she knew that her phone was the only way she would know if anything horrible happened. Her friends laughed at her, he cited “expectations of communication” as one of the reasons but nobody knew the real reason she held onto her phone for dear life all the time.
She had met him “on the phone”. Twenty years after her relationship, the only one she had ever known and believed in, fell apart one sultry evening in July, her friends had insisted she get onto one of these dating apps that had become quite popular in the circuit.
“You are always on the phone” was what he had told her that evening while she stood in front of him trying to fathom why he had gone running into the arms of another woman seeking emotional comfort while she, his wife, didn’t know there was a world that existed outside him. It was ironic that he said this to her, straight-faced and absolutely unapologetic, considering he had spent apparently many an hour on the phone with this emotional anchor he had found. She looked away for a minute, gathered her nerves and asked him to find a house at the earliest and leave. She loved him for everything he was and everything he had given to her to make her who she was today. She had known him from the time she was 16 and today 20 years later even as she asked him to leave, she knew the love she had for him would never go. But this was the end. She would wish him well. It wasn’t her style, or so she thought, to hang onto something that clearly didn’t belong to her anymore.
He had this smile that reached from the corner of his mouth to his eyes. Wearing a blue tee, against a wide expanse of green, he looked down at her, smiling. She let it go, once, twice, thrice. But the fourth time she gave in. There was no harm. He seemed simple and nice and there was some sense of warmth that came right through the screen. Would he swipe right too, she thought as her thumb made its way across the screen. She was new to this, not knowing what to expect. Friends had all kinds of stories- good ones, creepy ones and hilarious ones. She didn’t know if she was ready. What was she looking for anyway?
It seemed to be a “match”. She looked at her phone nervously and wondered if she should say hi. There was enough hogwash about men making the first move and women seeming too desperate if they did. She never believed in that rubbish but all she could muster was a lame “hi”, not knowing whether he would even reply. 48 hours had passed and she gave up, thinking that it was perhaps her fat face or her love for beers she didn’t hide that made him stay away. No man would want to be with her. Heck, the man she thought would, had left her after 20 years. Why would someone else even bother. And as she lay there thinking of everything that could have gone through his head, her screen lit up. There he was, a very non-descript simple “hi” acknowledging hers.
It was all uphill from there. They messaged each other, every single day, eight months straight. It didn’t matter that they were two countries apart with different time zones. He often laughed at her response time, almost immediately to any text, whether he lovingly complained about her laughter keeping him awake at night or telling her about the clear blue sky in Sydney and quoting a line from his favourite music, just to add that extra bit of warmth. He disappeared at times, days on end, making her sick with worry. And then he came back, every time, telling her he was caught up, he was ill, he was sorry. And that one text made all the difference. The anger that used to well up and blur her eyes with tears would melt that very moment and stream down her cheeks with relief, knowing he was well and safe, not realising she was going down the rabbit hole, falling desperately in love with a man she had never met.
Her friends told her to “speak” to him. ” Have a real phone conversation with him, go beyond text”, they told her. She knew they were right. She often asked him too but every time he put it off, she never brought it up, quite content with him just being there. They spoke about so many things, most of it being music. He promised to play for her, she promised to cook for him. He sent her music and many a selfie, looking goofy and flashing that smile that made her weak in the knees. She went to bed smiling, reliving the texts she sent him through the day, each day. Months passed. She spoke, he heard. He laughed, she loved. And it was bang in the middle of one of these very simple Sunday afternoon lazy conversations that he disappeared. ” I think we shouldn’t talk. Your communication expectations are different from mine”, it read. She looked at the text, horrified and furiously punched away at her phone, explaining what she meant, asking him to calm down and listen to her. Many texts followed in the next two months. All, every single one of them, hers. Angry ones, pleading ones, lonely ones, loving ones. All emerging from a space of deep love, none tinged with even the slightest bit of regret.
“Hey, you are presumably a nice girl and I am sure you will find someone who is not a douche like me. I am seeing someone else and it wouldn’t be fair to her or to you that we communicate. Take care and have fun”.
She looked at the message, once, twice and many times over. Trying to make sense of it, she couldnt look at the words. They seemed to disappear under the blobs of tears that had now clouded her eyes, her brains and that part of the soul she was ready to share. This was what a breakup was like in the world of adult romance. Mature, crisp and apparently “fun”.
She relived that morning all over again. Putting together the end of her story, she decided it was time. He knew she wrote. He knew where to find her writing. Picking up her phone she scrolled down to his name. It would again be a text, from her to him. But it had to be done. He was loved. And he deserved to know it.
If I used all my energy to call you back
Would you come back to me?
If I washed your face with my tears
Would you be the rain for me?
If I lit up your world with my smile
Would your soul glow for me?
There was a time when our worlds were bound together
When our lives were not made of clay
When our garden of Eden bore proof of our love
And the nights melted into warm wonderful days
They all seem a haze now, my love
Like the road that never seems to end
The lights in the distant, flickering as I drive along
The pain though never seems to end
There will be a day, I tell my soul
When our lives will be inextricably linked like a chain
When my tears will melt into yours
And our smiles will never cease to end
I wait for that day, my love
For you to find your way back into my soul
For you to tear my heart open and bare
And write this story again