In between words and intimacies

If these were the last words you say to me

would they be words

of endearment

of passion

of hatred

of anger

of betrayal

or

of disappointment

Would you spend hours thinking about our time together

days hours minutes seconds

of madness

of love

of partnership

of fights

or

of drug induced escapes

Would you phrase it with precision and craftswoman-ship

Or would you blurt out

the obvious redundancies

I am tired of listening to

I would spend hours thinking it through

place special importance on the way

your taste             your smell               your quick deep breaths

lingered in my memory.

What would you do?

Contradictions

You brushed aside my extended hand.

Casually. Unintentionally. Confidently.

With a gentle wave of those five fingers that I loved. You didn’t see the many worlds my mind travelled to in those seconds of silence that followed.

Broken glass pieces that I walked across. Despite major internal struggles, to not relive those moments of anxiety again, I took the painful steps forward. You were not responsible for the history of unresolved emotions I had collected. You were only responsible for the ones you and I brought into existence. Mostly ones of warmth and comfort. But I was a fool. I traversed those roads and cut my barely healed feet. I reopened the scars I had convinced myself were only part of the decoration.

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you – it’s been done before. In the same regal, nonchalant manner you conducted yourself in. Or was it just an excuse?

A shield for my mind to punish my heart and retreat a few thousand steps. For me to say, “I knew it, you foolish foolish heart. You never listen.”

I didn’t want to listen to my calm, logical mind anymore. I was tired of protecting. Nothing miraculous was happening within my fortress. I wanted more.

The friends of the past lingered too close.

Taunting. Saving. Reminding. Ruining. Protecting.

To new beginnings..

From the broken halves of me,

To each and every one of you,

I don’t know where to start. It is a whole lot of nothing. Yet, in the crevices of memory and the curves of my body there lay a whole lot of everything. From being around each other and sharing intimate, wild, unhappy, vulnerable and mundane, to the sudden vacuum and silence. Everyone tells you about the wonderful, marvellous feelings of love. No one ever fully prepares you for what comes after.

The emptiness doesn’t even set in for a long time. You first have to deal with the contradictions that present themselves. The anger vs. the calm. The pain vs. the joy. The longing vs. the hatred. The urge to hold on vs. the craving to move on. All struggling to co-exist in a, now, large available space…

I didn’t realise how tough it would be. I packed away all the memories, the physical remains of a relationship. But the mind, the body, the heart wouldn’t allow me such easy respite. I found myself in a sticky situation; unaware if I wanted to even move on. The pain, the guilt, the memories all were real. Soon they would leave and all I would be left with was the void. I refused to fill this void with another person or many. I don’t recommend such a life to you, though. I have learnt that these voids can only be filled with inanimate objects; never again with people or emotions. It wasn’t logical. It was just that way.

But I digress.

It was hard to imagine that the day would ever come. Death loomed on us since we began but we never took it seriously. We shrugged it aside as a rueful inconvenience. Together.

But I was left to face it in a very real way. Alone.

We had built not a home but a world. A parallel universe. An imaginary happiness. When it came crashing down on me, as she faded into oblivion, I realised no body prepared me for this. We speak, read, write, hear, watch, see, understand and analyse love. Not enough about loss. About losing a friend, a lover, a confidante and a soul mate. We weren’t married but only because it was illegal. We were everything a couple was and more.

I would cease wanting her this way. I knew I would. I was scared of that eventuality; so I held onto everything I knew. Slowly, she transformed into the best version of herself. Present and absent. All at once.

Months together, people, friends, colleagues, family would enquire out of affection, “How do you feel?” I wanted to say all this but I held back and said instead, “Nothing, yet everything.”

But I needed to be loved again. To let go of the gnawing pain and move on. She would understand. She would have done the same in my place.

Wouldn’t you?

A version of this piece first appeared on The Body Narratives.

365 of 365

A little girl walked into a large room. She looked around bewildered. It looked like the end of something. Deserted and empty. Or was it the beginning?

She sat in the centre thinking of ways to write this story. In the meantime, imaginary objects, people and specimens piled up on one side of the room and very real issues, core ideals and values piled up on the opposite side. The room began to get filled. More and more objects. More and more principles. She sat on her stool and watched eagerly. With excitement.

Here, around her and elsewhere, too, the stories had no end. All she needed was tiny space in the world and the luxury to pay heed to her voice. She nurtured it. Calmed it down. Riled it up. Fine tuned its skills. Angered it. And she spoke. Louder and with more clarity as time slipped by. She was young. But knew she had to trust the voices inside her head. Though friends, outsiders, acquaintances, strangers told her not to.

For silence was not going to save her. It, on the contrary, corroded her insides and broke her spirit. The stories, the imagination, the writing, the fire in her soul – these things fed her. Allowed her to grow.

No. It wasn’t the end. Only a beginning.

She looked at the empty room again and wrote furiously with her imagination colouring the pages.

363 of 365

It was a party.

One I was reluctant to attend. Too many visitors and too many friends. Ones I hadn’t seen for ages together. Others I wished were no longer on this earth. Which of these were friends and which visitors is for you to decide. For processing and disseminating such information was too much for me to indulge in. They were all dressed formally as the occasion demanded.

The party was organised in my honour. So my presence was mandatory. The crowd made me suffocate. Just a bit. It was what happened when you married a wise, wonderful and friendly woman. Even worse when she was an extrovert. She wasn’t her usual self though. Maybe it was the large gathering. Maybe she wanted me by her side. Though I can assure you, I was useless at helping or calming her down. On the contrary, she needed to calm me down. Maybe it was the occasion.

She looked too solemn. The black just didn’t suit her.

357 of 365

I remember you.

I remember the first injury you caused. And the ones you healed. What I don’t remember is when we agreed to these silences. The ones I was sure were worth it. The ones you demanded for our sake. The speech I forsake. It was a cruel path to the side of speech. Where I found my voice. I couldn’t believe you were here, again. Clarity was like wishing on a falling, distant star. Breaking. Reading. Fixing.

I don’t remember why.

I questioned me so much. Analyse, I screamed in my sleep. It sounded to others like destroy. Painful, yet, essential. I vouched for it. I defended the choice. Or compromise. Clarity escaped through the broken parts of me. Three parts broken. One part abstract. That made me whole. But the rest escaped between the gaps. Breaking it up. Reading once more. Fixing better.

I remembered you.

I had just forgotten me.

355 of 365

It was the tale of two people. So obviously there were two stories. Two very different ones. One filled with whispers and secrets. The other of pride and anger. Because of the whispers and secrets, an outsider had to presume. But rumour has it, it was because there was no trust.

 

Don’t believe everything you hear.

We tussled every morning. She leaned back and I waited; just like we had been told. But she never let go and fell.

‘I will catch you,’ I promised.

‘It isn’t about you,’ she replied walking away.

‘This isn’t some miracle I am demanding,’ I yelled, ‘Just let go.’

She wouldn’t listen.

You can never believe everything you are told.

But the story was actually simple. One had faith and wished for no secrets. The other didn’t. Everything else seemed immaterial.

351 of 365

I freeze in my tracks to stare at the number.

I didn’t want to see that jet black car

Driving past me.

Not yet.

You consumed my every thought.

A phase?

A loss I couldn’t swallow?

A life without your embrace?

I took a deep breath and shook my head;

It was a hallucination of your familiar silhouette

approaching me.

No, it wasn’t you.

349 of 365

A savage beast was she? Not really. She just fluctuated between too angry, angry and not angry enough. Stranded in a public place in an apathetic crowd. Less angry. More angry. Outrage. Way too much anger. She repeated to herself: Calm down. Yes. Calm. Down. Instead she stood jolted in public place as she heard someone tell her to not be angry. Don’t be angry here. Don’t be angry now. Don’t be angry with me. Don’t be angry. 

Not volatile. Not demented. Not crazy. Just fed up of ‘having a sense of humour’.

You know?

 

 

348 of 365

Untitled

She’s the one with unkempt hair that looked like hay on most days. The colour faded from all her travels. Her demeanour was sunny and dynamic. Yet, she never got attached to anything. She couldn’t stay still long enough to get attached. It was why she never bought property; she wished to remain free. She moved like a nomad. City to city. Looking for adventures. She never allowed relationships to begin and so she never feared their end. She didn’t measure happiness like us regular folk. She felt it in her veins and did everything in her capacity to continue doing so. Nobody who met her really knew her; none of them had a unkind word to say.

She slept in a new bed ever so often. A house rented in a remote corner of the world gathering dust. Unstable, unorganised jobs she didn’t keep track of. Taking a break only to earning enough to furnish her moving lifestyle. Sometimes, one wondered how she made ends meet. But she wasn’t the type to indulge in fishy acts. Her intention was pure. She never revealed even a hint of anything else.

She told every new person a new name. Sometimes Sheena or Keah or Loli or Prerna or Gabrielle. Whatever fancied her in that moment. Even in the course of one night at a pub, everyone she encountered were told a new name. A new story. There was nothing tangible about her but her stories. Nobody even knew her real name. In fact, she was not real for many. Just a vision or a feeling in their heart. So strong and fierce that once she entered their lives they yearned to live like her. But they couldn’t manage that.

She gave up roots that were so hard to get rid of. She belonged everywhere. She abandoned long term strings. She didn’t believe in people as safe harbours to dock her ship. When she spoke about the villagers who let her into their homes and hearts, about the secret hidden treasures of each city, everyone marvelled at the beauty hidden in the world that she was grasping, relishing. But the choices she made and the decisions she took felt like sacrifices to everyone else. To her, it was living the small voice in her ear, in her mind, in her heart.

No. She wasn’t alone. Her life was coloured by the people she met. The fleeting for others was deep and intimate for her. She wrote about these people in her diaries that she carried with her everywhere. The diaries also contained names that pleased her. She embraced them as her own. Sometimes, she fell in love with cities and people living in those cities. For what was a place without its people. But she only prolonged her visit; she never stayed.

Every strength or flaw she possessed, she bore them proudly on her skin. She revealed more than others could see. If only they heard or read her stories carefully.