Tuesday, October 30

No Return

Today is the first day without her and I just cannot bring myself to accept the fact that she is gone. She’s gone off to a faraway place from where I can neither bring her back nor can I reach her, no matter how many journeys I may take. She’s probably still on her way to that place. A place from where there’s no return even if she wants to. When I close my eyes I see her running off at a distance, her hair flowing behind her and I run after her, but no matter how fast I run, the distance between us only widens until she is just a dot far-far away and then she disappears. When I open my eyes everything else moves as it always did. The rain slashes down on people’s umbrellas as it always did. A lonely stray dog shivers in the corner drenched in the rain, like thousands of other stray dogs I have come across in my seventeen years of life. People walking past me have the same expressions as they always do - that neutral blank look when the facial muscles are slagging, unanimated by any kind of emotion. Their feet pattering on the sidewalk along with the rain.

I already miss her. I miss her so much that I want to stand on top of this bench and cry out to her wherever she is. My arms already ache from not being able to hold her. The memory of the smell of her hair when she rested her head against my chest, sting my eyes and suddenly everything is swimming in my tears. Soon people are going to come after me. Her family. I did something I shouldn’t have but I had to keep my promise to her. One day, she playfully said that if she ever were to die before me, then I should scatter her ashes in a place high up in the mountains from where one could see the sun rising on one side and setting on the other. A place from where one could see the mountain ridges. A place where civilization would never intrude. I had held my hand over her mouth and chided her for having even thought that she and I’d be separated like that.
I clutch the urn sitting on my lap. I haven’t peeked inside it. I can’t. I can’t see her in a heap of ashes. When I took the urn from her family and ran, it was still warm against my belly. I knew that warmth. She had pressed herself against me thousands of times and we had shared our warmth promising each other to always love each other like that. I’m angry at her for leaving me so suddenly like this. I curse her for being so reckless and not thinking that she was as responsible for her life as she was for mine. Please come back and save me, is all I can say at the end of my angry rants because no matter how hard I lash out, the fact that she’s never coming back makes me so desperate that I end up grovelling. I am cracking up and all that I held inside is seeping out. Soon I’ll be broken and I’ll be in pieces and I won’t be able to pull myself together. Before that happens I must make it to the mountaintop. I must make her wish come true. My only goal now, my only purpose in life is to take her to the place she wanted to go to.  I will never be able to say goodbye because of all the times I spent with her and those memories hover above me and inside me. I will never say goodbye. I love her too much to even spell the words. I will never forgive her for leaving me like this. I’m that angry at her.

The rain has stopped and the sun peeps from behind the clouds to warm up and to dry everything that the rain has left cold and wet. I walk up to a store and buy a rucksack. Then I ease her gently into the rucksack and walk out of the store with her pressed against my back. I can feel her hands circling my chest from behind. She’s still warm and that warms my heart. Outside, I hail a taxi to the town that lies closest to my destination.

Illustration - Yoshay

Friday, October 26

A Chance

A Chance

He sits across her in the subway. His eyes wouldn’t have fallen on her had it not been the book she was reading. Her face hidden behind the paperback with the title I know you printed in big bold letters.  He in his late thirties is plain, quiet, shy and uneventful. Single and resigned to a life of bachelorhood, he has fought his battles and has made his peace. Now headed home like every other day in the same subway, through the same route, with many familiar faces around him except this one. Except, this person sitting across him because he has never seen someone with a book in this subway before.
A rampant thriller.
No a mystery.
It must be speculative. He guesses.
Romance? Maybe?
He never read romance novels. He wouldn’t even come close to one. Most of them were flimsy and ridiculous.
Well, what kind of person reads romance novels? He wondered.
His gaze moves over to the fingers holding the book. Small hands with neatly manicured nails painted in a nude shade.
Yellow stockings and naughty boys in patent leather. Who wears patent leather? It’s loud and garish. Her legs are slightly plump and he can judge that she is small.  A few heads shorter than his hundred and eighty-one centimetres.

He is curious. He wants so to see her face.
Why? He wonders.
It’s not like he wants to talk to her. He could never be able to talk to a woman again.
Never. Not since her. Not since the day she abandoned him for another.
Despite all his attempts and endeavours to keep her happy, she had packed up one morning and left without a goodbye.
Why then, after three years, is he sitting across a woman and wondering what she looks like?
The subway slows at a station. Elm Gardens the sign reads. The book shuts and he sees her looking straight back at him.
Round and bright, she’s got a baby face. Her lips pout like a sleeping infant’s and are moist and pink. Her cheeks are flushed probably from reading all this while. But it’s her eyes. They’re incredible. Dark and slanting, they’re marvellously arresting. Long curled lashes curtain them as she gazes down.  He realises that he has been staring but he can’t help it. He can’t move his gaze away from her. People rush to get out at the station. She pushes the book inside a cloth bag and stands up. He stands up as well although this is not his stop. As people rush towards the door she disappears amidst the crowd. He gets pushed outside and he realises that in the chaos he has lost her. He stands on the platform of an unfamiliar station and looks for her amidst the sea of faces. He is looking for that one face in a million faces. The doors shut and the tube slides away leaving him behind.
As the tube moves further into the dark tunnel, the white halogen light inside stands out against the growing darkness and he sees her sitting on the seat he left behind. Those dark eyes looking straight back at him.