“Long time ago” is a dangerous neighborhood. All its season are holograms of perfect world, the illusions of rain and snow and sun, the illusion of hearts still beating under the non-existent skin. The technician of this a weary magic lives beside the empty park in the middle of my heart. He knows the perfect days to make me cry, to make me see. He invents new people, new details. Sometime these are fake stand-ins for the what he has lost in his war against me, all that I intend to forget. Sometime they are what I failed to realize, people I didn’t get to love. Most days I can’t tell the difference between the words I have forgotten and the ones I will never hear again. This town has post offices with stamps of words I no longer mean stuck on its wall. There cars and houses and roads and rivers owned by people who will never die. They all gather on my birthday in the cemetery of one grave. They sit on the endless green grass with their picnic baskets, with the kids I will never have, with the pets I will never keep and look into the eyes that will never look at me. They smile knowing something I will never know.
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.
On the broken lines of bold white, on the burning roads far away from home I knelt down in the heap of my skirt made of fairy dust and disappointments of all kinds.
I found a pretty crack with space enough to be something of its own and with a style that you’d agree with. With my fingertips already crying red I wrote you name in the best writing I could.
Your name that couldn’t fit beside mine, or the scorecards with better marks, or a business card that was not a part of scam, or with a number that could for once be reached, or the nameplate that you kept losing in the sleepy playgrounds of our eyes.
We missed you.
We missed you. in the conversations where we thought only of you and yet couldn’t speak of you. We thought of you always with an ache, always with a heart that wanted more of you while wanting to forget the little that we had.
I wrote your name and ran my fingers over them again. A kid knelt down beside me offering me a smile as he took in a pain he couldn’t understand. Today, of all days, I was not allowed to smile.
I walked away wondering if he knew you, if he now lives in your name, if he knows someone who wrote like me, who wrote words that will fit nowhere but here. Your name could be anybody else’s. You could have lived like everyone else and yet…
On the tapered ends of my lips when I found your lips nestled near mine, I asked “Is this love? Is this your love?” and you answered “Obviously not.” So I told my heart to grow up. Growing up was the only way not to hurt.
On the spring infested roads, I found your hand on my melting waist.
On a nameless cold rainy day, I found the joy of walking towards you.
On a morning long gone, in my graceless fall into the mess of my mind, I came to knew the strength of your hands.
On the narrow pavements made for one as I walked behind you I realized how impossible it is to forget you.
On all such days that I made a point never to mark on any calendar, on all the days I tried to forget, I found the question again and again “Is this love?” Again I looked away from you to avoid hearing the answer that would hurt a lot more now.
I guess I never grew up or growing up only deepens my heart, only makes it worse.
At a bus stand in front of mall (that I have never been to) I learnt how to wait and how to live with disappointments without making a big deal of it.
In the bracket of an hour, I grew smaller than I ever thought I could be. “this is what love does to you, this is what love does to all of us”, all the voices in me lied. I was again weary of the love that I had chosen and the person I had trusted (“again” – the word that showed me the real reason why it would never work out).
I stood beside strangers on the crowded bus stand, awkwardly crying. I counted these not-so-scary strangers who were trying to become one skin. I pretended that I hated to be rained on as much as they did. I pretended that I didn’t mind their warmth, that my suspicious mind was not at work again.
Hours went by, empty roads faithfully stayed empty. I became more aware of the boundaries of my body I became aware of the person who would never come looking for me, who would look at the three hour long rain and still won’t wonder what happened to me.
We all stood there, pretending to be the only human in the group of zombies who had taken over a bus stand out of boredom, who stared at the wide road, the darkness beyond, and the emptiness behind as if their eyes were made to witness only this moment. I closed my eyes and hummed something, anything that could drown the presence of everyone who knew the sound of my breaking heart now.
At a bus stand, that could protect no one, we all dreamt of the worst- of the submerged road, a rain that will never stop, the cold that would take us down for days, children forever waiting, of the lightning we could hear but not see
of a love painlessly ending and a heart that shamelessly survived.
I sit on the cold boulder and film everything, just like I am told. I am told, only for today, I should stop sewing myself up haphazardly, messing up the live-stream, and talking about things that will never happen. I have been told to put a hold on the wonderful manipulation that does no good to any effort my mind puts in fixing things back.
My mind doesn’t like me much, understandably. And I don’t like the idea of fixing anything- a harder concept. Maybe that’s why I burn as my mind looks around me. Maybe I should actually stop, when I am told to but I don’t want a way out, I don’t want to look.
“i promise not to hurt anyone but me” “i am fine like this. don’t take my tears seriously.” “please don’t mind the doctor’s note.” “please don’t mind the smoke in this room, it is a temporary solution to my emptiness, till something worse comes along.”
There is an exit sign that flies far away from me. There appears a road that it eats itself up . There are bridges that I have cried over and the fires that no longer burn. Everything of beauty that I had in me I have lost it here. I have burnt my body, nerve by nerve, for the sake of peace and love. Let me live here near the ashes of my past selves near the life that cannot be, around things that can’t be helped.
the one thing i can’t be is honest. though there are many other adjectives that stare at me from their balconies at midnight as i walk and crawl through the dirt road, through the pool of lights, crying and shouting and breaking dreams in every home that i pass by. i hear them shaking their heads with disapproval and hopelessness. i look at their hazy shadows and try to hate them in equal measures but i don’t because they are so easy to forget. but this honesty, this honesty that people expect vexes me. this expectation makes me want to hide, run, run over their hearts all because it is so simple. all because the ones who ask me of this through their tears are not mere observers but are the ones struggling to stay close to me fighting the unnecessary sandstorm i create everyday. they are the ones who deserve honesty. they are the ones i don’t deserve. but my dishonesty is not only for this world. it is the only thing i can offer to myself as well. so again, i wake up in their arms with another lie ready on my lips. i hug them with with my true love and my false heart. i don’t try to make it right when they are in shambles again because there is no fancy way to put it, there is no beauty in what i do, there is no promise i would keep. there are only people who i leave. even when i can’t bear to miss one more person again.
She stood ten steps away from me. Smiling the sort of smile I thought I would never see again. The leaves and their shadows, the broken light only for us tonight. I remember the how I loved her as the wind rushes to hold her. She, the mast of our broken ship, asks me how I have been.
My fingers that ache for hers hide behind me. This is the answer that she wants The simple answer that can be nothing more than longing. Longing is all I can feel, that’s how I create one incomplete world after another. Longings are my wings that break me apart, are my roads to run away.
My longings have so often been her dark room, the flash that sees her cry, her weary thin heart spread on mine, her food and wrist going cold.
Ten steps away I told her goodbye when I could have told her prettier words – words she would eventually lose faith in. How tragic it would be. So before the leaves could fall and dissolve on her shoulder, make her yet another victim of hope. Before we are set in stone. I knew I must make my exit. She is beautiful I hope she remains so. I hope I forget her again, I hope this time it is easier.
I drowned the flowers one by one. The poison of beauty now runs through the rivers on this land, they fill his backyard in every season of rain. A child with his smile drowns another boat of dreams, the flood is a field of paper, the flood is all that is left of me. She stares into me, waiting for a reflection to surface. She walks into me to see where I end.
She tells me about the boy she can’t love and the boy she can’t blame as I dissolve and submerge the red gates of her house, the garden of forgiveness, her school shoes, all roads to her friend who doesn’t smile back anymore, the spoons that remind her of hunger for farthest worlds and people.
She asks me how deep will be this pain of losing herself, how long she would have to smile through this hate. I flow into her heart, wondering, if there I could turn back to the flower I was, if the end of my hate could be the end of her pain. If I could be her answer of hope.