A Tale of a Park Bench

And I thought about the day I met him and how, weeks later, I was swept off my feet. I remember the day when I reached close to his ears to talk to him at a noisy party and he bent close to my face and kissed me. I still remember the taste of his lips.

Whiskey. Bitter. I remember the first kiss. Smooth.

I remember thinking to myself at that moment I have found love and decided I wanted to be selfish and keep it all to myself.

It was autumn and the trees were shedding, but it was still spring in my heart where love was endlessly blossoming. I watched the red and golden leaves drift from the branches and fall around all over the ground making a carpet for the visitors at the park. I spotted him sitting on the edge of a rusty bench in the park, a little impatient, bent forward, his hand thrusting his body’s weight on his knees, looking at his phone. Even from that distance, I knew he was looking at a picture of the two of us. It showed in the way he blushed uncaring for what the evening strollers or joggers might think of him. Such was his devotion to us. I thought to myself, Thank you Lord for the happiness that has taken form and is seated on that park bench. I could have stood there forever watching him but I didn’t have forever. So I stomped out of that thought and walked towards him.

He looked up at me in a way that said you are late but it doesn’t matter now that you are here and I want to embrace the whole of you. I jump-sat next to him for such was my excitement – an excitement that pulsates at the temples and sends shivers to the tips of the fingers.

I knitted my fingers with his and asked him, “Let’s talk about love?”

“Love? What of it?”, he smiled.

“Is love relative?”, I asked.

“It shouldn’t be, but it is”, he sighed.

“How so? Tell me. I want to know”, I pressed.

“Love is the reason the world came to be and continues to exist. It is the reason why you and I have found each other. It is the reason why time stands still. It is the reason why hope and faith hold their ground. It is the reason why knowing well that you were standing at a distance and watching me sitting here waiting for you, I didn’t turn around and catch you in your little acts of pleasure.”, he winked and continued, “Love is constant and the only language that the universe understands. But man has assumed it otherwise. He uses love as a bait to satisfy his ego. And thus makes it relative”, he completed.

“I know what you’re saying. Can it never change?” I enquired.

“You know it better than me. Don’t you?”, he said and kissed me on my forehead as I blushed and melted in his love.

A Tale of Her Smile

I said to my friend, “You know when she talked about something that excited her, he would listen to her talk as though it was a life saving conversation. And in each of these conversations with her, he felt so connected to himself. He would watch her smile and his whole world would drown; she would smile again and rescue him from sinking into the flood of happiness. He would accidentally brush against her sleeve and apologize profusely. Her lips would draw into a knowing smile and his world would go sinking all over again.

There would be moments when he’d look at his drink and wonder why she wasn’t with him. Right at that moment, she would walk into the room as though she had heard his thoughts, wink at him and sit down at the table across him. He’d think to himself, how I love this woman. She is the one, I want to be with. She’d smile again and it was like magic. He would quickly sit up and think if he had said that out too loud. And looking at his puzzled expression, she would burst into peels of laughter. Oh, how I love this woman, he’d think again.

Every time she smiled, he fell in love, only to fall harder the next time she smiled at him. While his heart swayed to the music her smile played, he was unaware of how much she loved him. She kept her love hidden in a box, she called heart. Her feelings for him were quite deep like the bottomless ocean. So deep were they that even the most subtle glance from him would make her go weak in her knees. But he would never know. Her love was quiet and unmoving. She hoped they would all surface to the shore so that he could see what he meant to her. But she was afraid that the delicate shores of his heart might not be able to handle what lay deep inside of her. She wanted to be his happiness. She wanted to be the woman he would come home to every night. But such feelings seemed like an extinct mammoth thumping around in her heart. She wasn’t weary from the baggages that she carried on her shoulder. All she wanted to do was to lay her dreams before him and whisper to him to tread softly on them, for it was the only thing she had left.”

My friend replied, “I see why she must be scared.”

I continued, “Well, the dreams that she has are pieces of her heart that she stuck together after it was broken and shattered. She loved once, you know? She loved hard. But this was different. Watching him love her was like falling in love with herself.

When she loved before, she forgot to love herself, and when her heart was broken, she broke as well. She forgot to appreciate herself. She forgot she existed in the relationship. But later, she managed to find the broken pieces and fix herself together. She felt a little stunted and leaky with the missing pieces. But now, every time he called her name, she became whole again. The moments spent with him were filling the missing spaces of her heart like in Kintsugi.

When I first met her, she was afraid to fall in love with him. Well, she had a history with love and brokenness. She now believes that it is better to be broken than to be new. She is in love. She is ready to be loved.”

My friend finished, “And I think, she will be loved like the night sky loves the stars. He will light up her way back out of the fear and into his arms. I think, that’s what will happen.”

Poem 7 (Collection 3)

Can you hear the quiet that has settled in this room?
Can you hear the occasional chirp of birds outside
sitting on rain-washed branches of neem trees?
Can you hear the silence that is speaking to your mind?
Can you hear my heart beat inside your dark ribbed walls?
Can you see my hand rise and fall on your chest?
Can you hear me whisper sweet nothings into your ears?
Can you feel my finger trace your skin across your shoulders and waist?
Now that you hear it all, within and beyond the room’s parched yellow walls,
will you miss me tonight
after I have gone,
when you lie alone on your bed?
Will your heart scream for me?
Will you make love to me again
before the night falls?

Poem 5 (Collection 3)

He rolls over towards me
under the white linen
in the morning sunlight,
still groggy from the whiskey of last night,
looks at me with half-shut puffy eyes
and smiles his infamous smile –
it could be easily mistaken for a smirk,
and I think to myself
God, this is what I want to
wake up to –
every day.
Amen.