Saturday, January 10, 2009

Portraits IV

March 4, 2019

At 5:00am this morning, I woke up to find my pillow damp.

It's been over a decade since I saw her last, but she's imprinted herself onto me, perhaps at a cellular level, or somewhere in my bloodstream, or maybe she's gone so far as to dissolve some of herself into my spirituality. It's certainly somewhere further than the rational me can get at.

We went to school together. She didn't know it then, but I was crazy about her from way earlier than is comfortable to admit. I met her for the first time four days into March when I got off a rickety stage at a student function. I had just croaked my way through a song, and was putting my guitar away when she came up and introduced herself. I must've stood there five minutes, mouth open just wide enough to signal challenges. She pretended not to notice.

I found we had a couple of classes in common that semester and I ensured that I plonked myself beside her at every opportunity. As I got to know her better (and as my babbling regained its coherence), I found that she could be the picture of composure one moment, and the next, laugh so loud that it'd ring through the street. Her smile could be so soft, and yet so warm, that I'd have to hide my popsicles away. More than that though, she could be so giving of herself to all those around her that it turned my world. This was the girl for me.

It took me long enough, but I eventually asked her if she was seeing anyone. She said she had a long list of boyfriends. In all earnestness, I asked to be added to the list. Turned out she had a sense of humour too. No list, is what I'm saying.

There are relationships where, over years of living with someone, you begin to read their physicality, and then their minds, such that there's none that can know this other person better than you. And then there are those of us that are luckier. I'd been seeing her for a handful of days when I realised she knew my ins and outs, my fears and joys better than any one before or since. Cue a hindi film clip here, something about how there's a singular someone out there for each of us, or how when the gods play matchmaker, they do it to perfection.

When we fought (and we did a lot of that), it was over the most trivial things. Perhaps I'd kept her waiting five minutes.Or she, me. And these fights were explosions. We'd need to keep away from each other for days at a time, so that we didn't get at each other's throats. I guess I handled it better than her. And not because I was detached. It was because I knew what bound us together was stronger than any fight we could manufacture.

I didn't attend her wedding when it happened all those years ago. I saw her last some months before the day, and haven't seen her since. There was no tragedy, no crisis between us. It was just how it needed to be because we weren't the only players involved. There were other happinesses at stake, some so important that a mere love lost just didn't compare.

The consolation back then was that we were young, and our love, a first blush. There would be more mature loves to come later. Best of all, we were always going to have the memories of our time together. Surely those would see us through till other anchors entered our lives.

The other anchors, the loves in times more mature, they've filled up my head over the years. They've made the winters seem easy and the summers breezy. But we never fight. Nothing they do upsets me.

I've learnt she has two kids. They're going to enter their teens soon. Ordinarily, I'd feel for her. The kids' adolescence will bring tantrums and demands, insecurities and rebellion, discovery and selfishness. There will likely be crazy love too.

My story remains incomplete until I tell you about how I still see her. On the street and in the subway, I run into so many people that look nothing like her, but my imagination (or possibly an unfettered longing) fills in familiar colours, sounds, perceptions into the empty frames that these people present. I know it isn't her I just saw window shopping, or getting off the streetcar, but I can't keep from smiling, because I'm never *entirely* certain it wasn't her.

It's been many many years since I spoke to her, and you'd think that natural forces would've corroded the memories by now, but these forces compete against an unnatural love. Others that I've lost touch with have floated away into the ether. Their statistics are archived in my head, but they remain cloudy, hazy constructs. She, on the other hand, lives and breathes inside me. I take her to shows and dinners. She offers advice when I'm taking decisions, and she still laughs at my jokes. That warmth is so pronounced that I sometimes turn around expecting to see her. It's so pronounced that sometimes my pillow is dampened by the tears.


Priyanka said...

Indra, is this a true story?

indra said...

P, I'm reluctant to answer that. I think the answer would take away from the story.
Plus it says 2019 at the top. That much I can confirm is outside the boundaries of reality.

Priyanka said...

That was a crappy answer. If you can pen a story like that, you should feel some sense of duty to clarify whether or not it's true.

Anyway, you should know that I thought it was really well written, and if it's true, then I'm sorry.

rheea said...

My spine is still tingling.
I like it- I realy do, its sadness is so searching and real. I really enjoyed this piece.

indra said...

:-) Thanks, nice to know you stopped by.

Violet Anand said...

O this was so beautiful. Thank you for this flawless piece.

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful. That kind of love is rare. I hope you both treasured it for the while it lasted. Tragic it had to end.