And across this street is my old home, the one I won’t ever visit. This year they have painted it yellow. How sad is that, isn’t it? My mother hated that color. She said that yellow kills happiness. She said such colors convinced even a happy person, that their smile is not enough. Her smile, as a rule, was mostly not enough for anyone and it made sense to me that she would hate to compete with her wallpapers, her furniture, her mirror, her curtains – for the sake of validating her existence and importance.
The woman who stole our lives years later – I heard her telling my mother that “she was an insecure woman, that she was bound to lose”. As if she, who paints this house now with horrible colors every year, knew what loss is. My mother – she liked browns and greys and greens. She grew life out of her blood. She loved dearly and irrationally- whenever she sat still and saw at us smiling and playing, she would break into tears. We loved her more dearly for that.
She loved that house and the man that owns it. She hated herself a bit too much. She tried not to but saving her was a work she had to do by herself -a tiring chore, no one wanted to be part of. She brought us the most beautiful yellow frocks one day and looked at us, trying to love something impossible through us. She looked at us hoping that her love for one thing could make her bear her hate for another. Like a fool, she believed that her trying would mean something to this world.
The light – yellow, diffused, and scattered – falls here everyday on the cold marble of my home. It is winter already, which means there must be places on earth now where turning on taps is a useless exercise, where a whole street wakes up early to remove the snow piling up in them, around them, snow continues piling far away from their settlements where there is no need to clear them, where the weight of snow doesn’t suffocate anyone. There must be places now where people are forgetting things one by one. Remembering an unreal ocean of fierce light, forgetting ever being there. How many places have I forgotten already? I move two chairs into the circle of warmth and wait for the evening cold to reach my skin, to end this dream. I stare at the empty chair. I draw myself sitting there, staring, as if I cannot live without an empty space beside me. What was that space once? It was something warm with skin and heart and voice. It was light in human form, it was the most beautiful life. But that empty chair in the sun, has been empty for so long it couldn’t possibly have been me who existed when it was something more than that.
In the pool of lights, the green and yellow glitter swam in the air and you said – “This is what our life would be like. This is what our happiness would look like. This is the forever, this is the everyday love that I can offer you my love, in return for your heart. This grace is ours to keep, if you choose to revolve around me, just as I have chosen to see only you.”
As you held my hand and waited I realized all I needed was a word of affection, a promise of love, of any love I was capable of. That was all I needed to make you mine. But the easy lies, the half-meant overused words were nowhere to be found in me. I wanted only you and yet I couldn’t utter a ‘yes’. Of all the things I could do, I stupidly chose to cry. I knew my place in this world too well to admit wanting anything as lovely as you.
As you smiled and wiped my tears and picked the another happy song, I wished you would have said “If you cannot love me, better get ready for a lifetime of hating yourself” instead of saying “It is fine.”
As I climb, my steps remembered the shoes I once had the ones that didn’t hurt so much and how hands of mine that hacked through them just to become my own person, some sort of grown-up. I climbed over the yellow soft dress and the light that it caught just to get this, this body that looks held together but is not (this body knows only how to fall apart), just to get few more shadows that ruin my beautiful wrist with their persistent passion. They claw through me, to see how I am made, how I look and speak once I break. A stranger once left me at the bottom of a black pond and called it love just so that I won’t cry and in return I called him my love just for few breaths, just for my life. I climbed over the right to mean the word “love” thereafter and the dream of knowing a heart other than mine. I breathe as if I have sinned yet I walk like I am happiness and determination in flesh. I cling to all the bitter bits of this world as if they would ultimately save me. I climb over, get over, and forget so easily, so bitterly that each feeling of mine is just a shade of resentment.
Her floor had always been the color of the season I remember this, only when I step into the mess of her life. The spring issues lay scattered like the flowers The pink, red, yellows, and greens, women who only know youth, women who only grow younger the kind of woman she wanted to be (what a small impossible dream) and she almost is. And now that she can never change would she be happy? When/if she comes across her own lifeless eyes in the missing posters would she be glad to be one of the “sad popular”? I shatter the home of her missing goldfish in my haste efforts to pick them up and put them out of sight- the bundles of glossy paper that my eyes can’t handle. I try to put them away, wanting to throw them away now that she wouldn’t mind, now that she won’t yell at me or anyone for taking away too much of her. I want to try it. i want to try, so she has no option but to stop me. “let’s leave her in peace” tells me my moral compass and my grief. “i don’t want to show her the kind of respect that only dead deserve” shouts back my anger and my love. I drop the heaviest bag in this world on her rain soaked bed. Her last dress, her last chocolate wrapper, her last bus ticket, her last mistake, her last breath everything spilling out, everything ruining the spring that I dreamed for her along with her.
twenty-six steps away from the cold end, we stand together as if we are both looking at a foe we must defeat together. a child passes us by with a yellow balloon. how misplaced it seems, this child in this place made of storms.
this is something i don’t want to do. our steps will fade into the deep end of this lake while the mother in me would summon the face of this child as a hope of what i could have had if I could endure a little bit more.
an invisible small hand curls around my fingers as your voice falters and you mess up our last song. the ghost of your future, whatever face they may have, have also arrived. so i put back the sweater on and you check the calls you must return as the ones who intend to live on only do.
I put on my favorite show (that I have seen for umpteenth time), increase the volume, fill my plate. My eyes glued to TV notices too late all that I have spilled, fill my plate with things I won’t eat.
The same beautiful scene. Under the yellow light stand two actors, pretending to be in love, doing a better job at it that we ever could, saying words we could never say.
My heart breaks to see this love, it pops like a bubble wrap, bursts like a bubble of daydreams. No, it doesn’t hurt. I just hear a sound from the otherwise silent machinery that keeps me running.
I am glad you meant enough to me to have become a familiar bump on the familiar road that my heart always takes.