She stood still, her tiny shoulders and ribs (that thankfully can no longer be seen) moved gently with each breath. Each tiny breath like the wave that swept in, like her laughter used to be. She looks at me and asks if it is done. I nod. I meant to say “almost”. Just like I had meant to say “stop”, or “please don’t” or “take me and spare her”. She doesn’t wait for my answers anymore. She skips over the boundaries of our shadows.
Her outline of me drawn in shaky fingers, looks like a human being pulled apart beside her own shadow – a child, complete and perfect. But she looks at her shadow and calls it weird, just like how she called the ocean weird.
For her the smiling children in the glossy magazine were weird, a chocolate bar without an occasion. without a reason were weird, the memories of home she wanted to forget were weird, the days she walked to school with her friend and the days the sun went down as she slept over the struggles of homework were weird. She sat down and tried to come up with an answer for my “why”.
“the ocean is so huge. as huge as, all the things i can’t have but once i had them. it is weird.
it is weird how this ocean is mine now, the breeze is mine along with the sky but i don’t want them.
you have memorized my shadow. you keep bringing me back to life but you tear up so easily as if even you don’t believe yourself. as if you don’t believe in me .
sometimes i feel that this ocean is our gift to each other, it is our heart free of our bodies. sometimes i believe that i am here and you are here and the world where my head can rest in your lap still exists.”
Across this glass, across the tired melting clouds of mist, on the other side there are trees and homes and forests that are just like places on this side that I rest.
The places where I am not look as sad as all the places I have been. Everywhere, on every road there is always a person who knows a way to break my heart, and I always end up thanking them for it.
There are rooms where I put up lights and posters and curtains and lovers and music, those are the rooms I want to die in- with some beauty, with some consolation of meaning .
But always I find the reason for my end outside these walls. Those reasons live under the brightest light on the darkest road. And because I was told that the light that I don’t know of is the one that saves all, even the hopeless ones like me. So my legs forget how to stop, my hands forget how to let go, and my blood glitters for a moment under the light of lost hopes before it turns black, before it invites in the cold that I always thought belonged to the inanimate world.
I think of the room I won’t reach, and the songs and the faces and this world that I will not be given a peace of, to keep.
As the sky fills me up, pats me down, and tucks me in the snow across the white, I feel someone stir from sleep. The wail that my throat cannot make, finds a home in that other world, in the other me that unlike me knows how to cry and how to be loved for it.
The evidence of your existence – they sometimes sound like trapped bubbles in ice, a song no one wants to remembers, a song that wants to burn itself down on the steps of justice gone wrong, wanting to stain the white marble of temples that do not deserve worship.
They sound like dying ambition amidst flying hopes, a revolution coming apart, a future with limping walk and kind careful words, a future fleshed out with beautiful breaking and selfish hands.
You told me “selfish” is a beautiful word, told me that in the opening sentence to the goodbye, that I am supposed to shout after your vanishing back, to make the word “selfish” the first word, to speak of that word with a smile. And let the world wonder why you wanted to burn the world for what you have never known, what you couldn’t have; to never explain your heart, to never let their magnifying glass and their dear sun around your tearful smile.
“We must break our bones and lives to create another spark – this is what we owe to this world” the voice on other side of my dear old wall told me, told us all again. And because we must do something about it, we kept ordering another heart, another mindset, another way, another “desperate somehow” till our hands never felt comfortable with anything that is not new. Would we stop, could we stop if someone told us that we are more than our failures? I wonder even if I could believe those words I wonder if such words mean much in this world.
Even if there was another place to start a life that doesn’t run over me every morning on the tracks that keep changing their shape and place, tracks where I am just a new layer of metal, another layer of blood that won’t give up, that cannot die yet, saying hello to the ones who wake up beside me as if death is another sleep for which they cannot lose time. Even in that place, I feel I would suffer trying to define and find my place even if no one asks me to.
The food tastes better today. The light today falls just right into me. “This would be a day like no other”, I thought as someone wished me a happy day on radio before playing a song that shredded my remaining patience into bright bitter words that fit me better. And now armed with an unreasonable and off-putting frown I walk towards the house where my love lived. I knew on a day like this she would still be somewhere far away from every world of mine and my knocks would bounce back from everything of hers she didn’t want. I stood there talking to my friends who differ from me only in the fact that they don’t have to walk this world in hope and fear of change. I pick another flower which will definitely end with “she remembers me, not“ “she will return, not“ “she is here, not“ As my shoulders melts to fit the memory of her outline, the song changes to something that refuses to end with “i will forget her eventually“ “i will be fine like everybody else“ “i will find what it means to be me, by myself“ and something about that was relieving. The false belief that I will be stuck in time even if it was with a memory of her, with false hopes sounded better than hearing the approaching steps of the day that will cure me of her.
Once she had a bite of my fate she became a restless ghost. She looked like all my ugly wishes staring back at me but she had a beautiful smile so it was more bearable to my eyes than to wear my own desperate words on my unsightly lips. She looked out of place, but in a good way as if she was the invitation to some place where my light won’t die. Even in her voice it was my own words that asked me to leave, that told me to love for the last time. As my shrieks danced in the empty corridors she planted a seed of eucalyptus in my palm, she covered my hand with hers, and covered our hands in dirt. She told me how, for years, only the smell of eucalyptus could calm her mind, it made her believe that there was a gentle cure to every disease that hurt her heart. As she spoke such words that were not extraordinarily sad I felt my spine become soft. I dreamt of her leaning against my back relieved of her every pain and maybe it was the only beautiful wish that has ever been born from my heart. Once I touched the shadow of her heart I grew and bloomed and learnt to be the one who waits, heals, loves, and breaks without bounds.
All the spring’s color have been molten and poured into the broken casts of summer. They seep into ground, into autumn leaves that falls in every space between you and me. They sing something for us again as we shiver and stop ourselves from giving in, as you hold back from saying every word that can fix me (at least for now). I google how to kill feelings that don’t let me eat or speak or smile. I bite my lips trying to bury the words that would shine in your colors, if you were to look at me. If you were to look at me, you would be only sad to know how unchangeable my heart is.
You tear sheet after sheet, rip them out of calendar and hand them to me. We burn 11 months, saving only December, because you never know. There is a knock on our door, someone who is lost brings in the chilled wind, the fine dust of snow, and voices celebrating something we will never understand. I wait for you to come back and settle into you warm sleep. I sit at the foot of the sofa, and think about the one time I dreamt of death. I was looking out of window waiting for you and you came back with new pair of eyes that never settled on me, and when I was almost about to cry you moved towards me with a dying sparrow in your trembling hands. It lay on its side with its soft violent gasp for breath that were perfectly in sync with mine.
The last stranger at the funeral home brought in the worst rain of the season, the coldest wind of the night along with your last letter. He leaned against the window and called up everyone he won’t be able to meet today looking at me all the while. As if he knew every word that I was reading. Probably waiting to see whether I cry at the same lines that he did. His eyes look like the ones who have got used to crying for things that cannot be undone, for a life that cannot be. I wondered if he loved you. Maybe he did. Maybe you knew. I hope you did. He sat beside me trying not to grieve more than a mother, trying not mourn like a lover, making himself invisible with every word i read under my tearful breath
“…even when I sat at the dinner table with my brightest smile and deepest hunger, i couldn’t convince me that i needed to exist here. even the warmest embrace of this world could do nothing but break me. i knew opening my heart could only bring floods and all ends of all kind. i knew all along of this end. forgive me for pretending otherwise….”
I woke up in tears and I couldn’t go back to sleep.
As I slept, I felt things move around me, someone climbing down my window, someone flying out with unfamiliar and awkward wings. In my sleep I heard the unbearable wailing of my words that should have otherwise lying dead on my table.
I couldn’t go back to sleep. Because something was wrong. Someone was again changing me without my knowledge. Someone was again waiting for my gratitude to fill my lifeless words of thanks.
The moon was no longer a moon but an eraser waiting for me to sleep, so it can go on and erase everything that was left in this life. In the 3 hours I had slept away I had already lost memories worth 3 years so easily without even putting up a fight. Even if I didn’t know what should be here but no longer is, I somehow knew that I would always know that something is missing. I knew what that feeling will do to me. I knew how it would make me do everything that I regret having done. I knew all that because I have found myself so often at this point.
The point of forgeting – the forceful hands of God trying to pry open my hands, the painful flying away of my pain, the painful end of my love, the hideous and disgusting sight of my hands wanting something, anything to hold again at any cost.
I knew not to fall for this scheme again. So I walked upto the window, looked at all the sleeping rooms scattered in front of me, rooms where no one really slept. I looked at the concrete street below, felt its dangerous height in me, felt the distance between me and the true oblivion. I played with the dangerous power of choice before it frightened me with its truth. I heard someone laugh, before I turned back. I heard them back at their work as I found myself sleeping in the familiar bed of choices that never feel right. The only choice I want to believe I have.
He was somewhere upstairs running barefoot on the dusty floors of the broken house. I could hear him even when I stood waiting in the backyard staring at all the rusty memories, feeling the stare of people who will never leave this place, who may never leave me again now that I fear them for never actually dying. I tried not to love him as I stood alone waiting for him to get bored of all this.
I was too afraid to be with him when he was like that. when he read aloud poems about death out of the blue, and read them as if they were the only true declaration he could make to the world, the only true word that he could say to his life. I would only later find out that they were written by someone else – someone who lived in a difficult to pronounce country. He loved things like that – taking up the clothes of emotions of others and wrapping himself up in them as he walked into all the unknown lives that oddly had a room reserved just for him.
And always, I would be outside waiting for the sun to set, for his heart to ease, to be there when he decides to come back to reality for good. I didn’t realize that footsteps had ceased long ago, and so had his breath. So I stood there letting my heart run barefoot on the floor of delusion, in the world where he exists. I waited for my love to give up on him. I was afraid of being me when my love stop, won’t look back at me.