He mumbled in his dream. Before I could turn towards him and quieten him, he reached for my hand, still asleep. He took it and placed it on his chest. I watched in silence as my hand rose and fell to the rhythm of his breathing. In his slumber, he rested his tiny hand over mine to be sure that I stayed where I belonged—close to his heart.
On page 37, it read ‘Ammu said that they were had for her eyes and had advised her to wear them as seldom as possible.’
She cursed her eyes that were not trained as well as her genes permitted them to be. Her optic nerves must be twisted in some sort of evil way, she thought. She read the line again to make sure it were eyes that confused her. ‘Ammu said that they were had for her eyes’ What in the devil did she just read? It must surely be the damned bumpy ride of the bus, she cursed under her breath and read it again. ‘they were had for her eyes’.
She was reading it right but it didn’t read right. Could it be a new phrase added to the English language? So many get added everyday and this must be just one of them. But this book was written over a decade ago which only meant that she had somehow remained unaware of it’s existence. ‘had for her eyes’ —it would take a while before she felt comfortable around it. What could it mean? Phrases had a strange way of conveying a thought or idea. And she spent a few seconds baffled at the new twist that this phrase had brought into her reading.
Wait! It then suddenly dawned on her that it was a word spelled wrong and not her ignorance of the existence of such a phrase.
She was already beginning to reach into her bag that sat stiffly on her lap for a bright pink pencil. But it couldn’t be. No, it couldn’t be. An author of a book that won the booker prize, couldn’t have erred in her writing. Surely, she wouldn’t allow that of her editor either. She quickly looked through the list of acknowledgments only disappointed not to have found a mention of an editor. It must be right what she had just read. It must mean something, if an author so great had used it in her book.
While she sat there tossing these thoughts back at herself, her hand had already circled out the word that had caused her so many distressing thoughts. With her head titled to one side like a raven eyeing a piece of dead meat, she absentmindedly allowed another voice in her head ‘oh, look at the sinner hanging dead from the noose around him that you’ve drawn! How many (re)prints did he think he could escape unscathed before getting caught?’
The creatively malicious voice snapped out without warning and she resumed tossing her thoughts around in all seriousness until she finally had to submit to the fact that it was indeed a word spelled bad. That she was right in reading the word for what it was. With the relief of having arrived at a conclusion to the confusion, she decided to resume her reading.
Just then, another wave of thoughts rushed at her. Why didn’t she see the word for what it was the first time she read it? Why did she trust the author’s command of the language over her own? Why was it hard for her to believe in herself and in the many things she knew? Most of all why did she bleed for the carelessness of a stranger?
Someone once asked her, “But you don’t write of love anymore?”
“Oh, I do, but not of him anymore”, she quipped.
There are plenty of them—those memories of you and me. And us. They are all scatterted across the hallway of my mind. I can neither do with them nor without them. They just sit there aimlessly or engage in an emotional battle with me.
In such moments, something strange happens leaving me lost and wondering what happened to us.
It is perhaps a scent my senses picked up or the brush of an old shirt against my skin—that’s when those seemingly idle memories rush in my direction, distorting my sense of reality. Such instances last a moment or an entire evening but they leave me with a second imprint of you on my heart.
And I would have unknowingly added another memory to deal with.
He wrote me notes, little ones, on scraps of paper, coloured with crayon pencils. The colours changed, the spellings were sometimes fractured, they were often written in haste or in hurry. It always said one thing and he never seemed to tire himself of confessing it. I would note how in some of the notes, the last word would trail off over the edges, like he had miscalculated the space it would require to write those four words. And somehow he would try and accommodate a doodle in there. It was fascinating how he would hand the note over to me in my hand but run away to hide for he was too shy to watch me read it—he was ready to bare his heart to me but was reluctant to see how I might respond. What if I didn’t smile after reading it, what if I put it aside as if it was just another piece of paper? He had his fears but it never stopped him from trying to know how much space I would take up in his little heart, how he could enrich everyday moments with his love that was always
overwhelming overflowing, whether I loved him beyond compare or loved him at all, or from writing me those notes that always read one thing—I love you Ma.
I do not want to have to be careful when I am with you, as if walking on sharp needles or tight ropes. I do not want life to be wasted in such calculative moves. I want to run wild and free with you and chase the suns.
I want to love.
It was only early afternoon and she was already drinking from her second bottle of vodka. She had her heart broken for the umpteenth time, in fact, she didn’t bother herself anymore with the count.
He was unstable like the surface of the ocean that constantly danced to the mad whistles of the wind. Nevertheless, she liked him for some unknown reason and so she waited for him. She always did like a locked door that waits to be opened. But someday that might change. She would have found the reason and worked a way around it or she would have simply given up. Something might happen and she might turn away and never look back. Thinking of that least probable day now did not make much sense to her in her drunken state, but at least it gave her hope. One of the two things might happen—he may come back or she might walk away—at least in that sense, the latter would be constant. Or maybe not!
Even in her befuddled state of mind, she was completely aware that life was bountiful and full of surprises, and that she didn’t want to be tied down by the weight of his absence. How does a bird not spread her wings and take flight? She wasn’t caged neither were her wings clipped; she was just hopelessly in love. As for him, he danced but she wasn’t the wind. And all she did was wait, but with a little more patience and a bottle of vodka.