Dropping my bag onto the floor, I asked the slim silhouette against the night lamp, “What happened?”
She smiled faintly and answered, “He’s leaving.” A tear trickled down her cheek staining her face. “He’s leaving, drifting away. I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you know this already? Didn’t you know already that he would leave and not stay back for anything or anyone, not even you? That he is a relationship nomad? Or that he will rather slip away from you than slip a ring onto your finger? Where is the courage you showed when you first ventured into this waiting room of second-guesses?
Today you sit in that corner curled up and whimpering. And he hasn’t a clue. Does he?
Does he even know the tip of the iceberg he calls your heart?” I raged.
She did not move. Tears silently streamed down. She didn’t make an effort to wipe them. She cramped into herself and hid her face.
I dropped myself next to her on the floor and held her close. I was trying to warm a heart that was growing cold and blue out of fear. But she dwelled in that coldness because it somehow made her numb. I could only understand; I couldn’t fix it for her.
She began to rock herself and spoke in broken sniffled sentences,
“He will leave. I can’t expect for him to stay. Can I?
I didn’t stop myself when I fell in love with him. It was the easiest free fall. And now I can’t bring myself to stop him.
Every time he came close to me, winked at me, made me laugh, passed funny remarks, called me ‘aye kanmani’, failed at attempts to ruffle my hair, cut me short when I spoke a lot, listened patiently when I spoke a lot more, claimed himself to be old-school, shook me up, rattled the demons in my head, forgot the little things that mattered to me, quietly policed what I wore, pressed a kiss on my temple, or made drunken confessions of how much he loved me, I told myself never to get too attached to him. I reminded myself that he is a dreamer and a wanderer. Sooner or later, he will leave.
I thought I was doing well at keeping my heart safe, until one day it dawned on me that he was prepping me up for a goodbye. Something twitched in my chest. Somewhere deep inside it hurt as though a line of wasps were taking turns to leave a sting. My gut felt knotted; I clenched my stomach. My defenses were up. I didn’t know what or who I was battling. Do you what that means?”
“Never mind”, she dismissed.
There was a painful pause before she continued, “It means, he will leave me bare to the world. Those walls I stacked up around my heart so that I wouldn’t have to pick up broken pieces of myself again – they wouldn’t be there. He tore them down. And now he will leave me lost in the dark. I will be rummaging for him among memories, hidden stack of photographs, pages of scribbled verses, journal entries, or an empty side of the bed.
He’s the kind of memory I can never create again.
Is this what people call fear?”
“But isn’t love also about letting go?” I quoted her.
“Strange are the ways of love”, she smiled.
For the first time, I saw that even pain could be so beautiful.