The city of wax and sun was, for the lack of better words, like living in a home that will vanish and does vanish- the vanishing always a spectacle and a sorrow. The nights were all about breathing religiously every second to catch a brick, a bell, a railing to hold onto, the dear gods carved in stones, the plate touched by my mother. Breathing in again and again and coming up all empty, we used to wait for sun and dread its heat always worried and excited about the drops and vapors we would catch and all that we were going to lose. Since nothing apart from the breathing would survive, since the new-born stone and grass knew nothing of death or its mark, there never was a funeral, no graves, no photographs to devote our tears to. All our oceans would rise within us falling at the steps, the stones, the memories of everything that cannot prove its reason to stay anymore.
her touch – always a procession of feelings that won’t leave her heart, of everything she doesn’t have or even want words for.
i hold back her hand and it all quiets down- the waves, the death, the crashing planes, and the flying roofs. the cities in her mind grow silent. they- the tiny inhabitants, the ugly parasites in her heart, they look at me as if i am an enemy, and yet smile at me, as if i am one of them.
they wait for her to smile at this, which she does. she tells me she is fine. in the same tone in which i use to tell her the same lie. she leans in and touches my cheeks. now it is my turn to go silent. now my cities and their helpless monsters wait to see where she leads this madness to.
She sings. An echo, a heartbreak maybe, something piercing, something invisible, something not ours- this is all that we are allowed feel (as long as we want to feel).
She is everywhere. She sleeps, buried under the heavy weight of water and floating globes of life and drowning boats and oil. She is everywhere.
Yet her voice outlines every step we take. Every dying step is a step lost to her name. Running away is beautiful in this city. The traces of our writhing, crawling, changing bodies, painted on every stone, every wall, doesn’t let us forget the dust of the world we crushed by our hands, doesn’t let us forget the word “home”.
All our journeys branch from her heart. We sit huddled with our feet in water, with our hands over fires dying out and talk of her. Always her.
When I try to imagine, to recall the face of another human being.
I always see them standing opposite me with an expressionless face, holding out their hand.
When they are ghosts of pasts, they are breathing cities of peculiarities and possibilities. I feel they were waiting for my hand to touch theirs. I feel as if they have saved up their last smile for that moment. The steps I couldn’t take, can now never take, they look so easy, so worth it, so worth keeping as regrets.
But I never learn because when they are reflections of present, they are breathing statues and frozen hearts that couldn’t possibly beat. I know that this hand is not for me, that I have extinguished the smile on that face just by being myself, just by existing.
Only the warm breath of passing time can make me miss the world that could have been. Only on the streets I cannot walk grow my trees of faith.
But even then, even for the past I barely feel any love. What I feel is something similar to the relief in the things that won’t change. The pull I feel is for the trust that can never be broken, my heart that I never had to give out, the hand of every stranger that remained innocent thereby.
And your sadness – your sadness makes me want to move to another city, another continent, another planet, another heart, become another person – a person whose love won’t make you sad like this, a person you can love back.
The river is finally running dry. I heard someone rejoicing to hear this. What is a river without it’s water? I am told it is money, it is development, it is more money.
Another colony, dozens of businesses springs up. There is nothing to be sad anymore. I walk on the roads trying to trace the skeleton of what is lost.
Now, I know the names of few more rivers that are nowhere to be seen on maps.
The numbers of such ghost keep increasing.
There is a language that no one cares for. There is a city that forces everyone to leave. There are words that don’t sound fancy anymore. There is an accent that needs to be exorcised from tongues- the identity of what we are is a secret, something we can be killed for.
But it is the season, the world where rivers dry out beautifully, where aches turn into anger, into revenge, into art, into denials, into search for something new. But rarely does it turns into tears.
How is it we have so much to lose, so much that is already lost and yet have so little to grieve about.
In the rubble with nerves hiding sparks, in the nest of sleeping explosives, again it is you. Again you are here to prove something by doing something unasked for.
You build a place for warm tea, for all our shivering ghosts to haunt. You place the chairs that are not chairs but buckets that cannot hold anything now. There are chairs that are lying around just fine but you don’t want them. You don’t want the old purposes eating away the beauty of all that is left behind.
You console the ones holding onto what is no longer there but you don’t want the ones who want a way back to what it was. You ask us questions with your bleeding lips you want us to answer with something real, not just words. “You are cruel”, you laugh when we say that. You make us leave everything we are just so that we can finally sit on empty buckets thinking about the hands we cannot hold, thinking about hands that are no longer hands.
“The city is no longer burning”, you tell us as we place our empty glasses in front of our empty eyes and tell us it is fine if we don’t believe it now. “Sleep. Dream and stay for a while with the molten and bombed, the lost and the dead that still have your heart. Take your time.”
As we lay awake in our heart-wrenching grief, as we lose ourselves to your favorite world of sleep, you stand beside the fire that keeps us alive. You stand beside the fire that is not actually fire but your heart that burns like sun.
We wanted to tell you, “You are kind. You are too beautiful for this world. Have our heart and burn it instead.” But we couldn’t . We knew these things were easy only in words, that these were things we couldn’t do, yet. That we have not smiled and laughed with bleeding lips, helping while being hated. That we were too selfish to be you.
In every country, in every city, on every street stands a home that could have been ours. I am a daydreamer like that As I passed the house with an always crying child, as I passed the house with the overwhelming smell of incense, as I passed the house with singing reality shows played on repeat I only thought of the life we could have there. In my mind, we fit every house, we fit every role. Even if our body was stripped of every muscles and every bone even if we put back together the wrong way, even if we our heart were to be rearranged, in my mind we would still fall in love. That is how we had molded the spirit of our love- to be stubborn (if not right or just). But now there are years when I don’t remember you, and yet there is no sadness in me that is capable of ruining me. You are gone and I am trying to grieve for something I don’t particularly miss. As I pass the houses where our stories used to be staged I realize they are again the buildings of strangers that I am supposed to keep my mind away from. My sadness selfishly keeps uttering, “I need to love someone, someone who won’t do this to me. I need to love someone, to believe in love again.” I reach home with bloody nails and bruised fingers leaving behind bricks with our names scratched out.
Some days I am thankful to the walls that never broke down when I did, that looms up to the heights that seem more beautiful than sad (on certain days at least).
The tiny tiles, the cemented words in me- they were supposed to be who I am, they were meant to decompose when I chose to change my ways, when I chose to change my heart. But this ‘me that I have made’ is more magnificent, more important than me now.
My mask is more than a mask. It is my life, it is my M.O., it is the replies and answers planned out for every worst case. It is a solution that works somehow. It is a city where I live helplessly not because I am helpless. It is just difficult to throw away something I thought I was me. As my nature melts and takes new forms everyday this artificial me remains as my only point of reference. My pretense is the best I can ever be.
strangely even there, even on the canvas of my imagination where I get to act the god, even in that world where you are nothing but my creation, even there I can’t imagine a happier end for us.
because i can edit our photos on the cities we never got to visit and i can write you some words, give you some hints on how to make me want you want you back. but even when your puppet hugs mine back i know it’s only me, my hands, my heart, my body, my hopes hanging onto something that would never be you.
“so let it go“, i tell myself. “let’s stop calling every ache by the name of love. let’s put our ego to rest.“