Remember When-

           1. The First Grey

 He was talking to Noah about the farmhouse when he dropped a question about “the lady from upstairs” with a remarkably casually disdain, leaving a palpable anxiety in its wake. Noah, however, only stifled a laugh and told him that Keira had already left for work.

Sitting at the archaic rotary, listening to another one of my colossal clan, this time my ostentatious sister, ramble on about her illustrious affairs in the ‘Big City’, I unconsciously drew a single line on the telephone book.


               2. And Again
At 4:30 in the evening, he stumbled out of the bedroom in his signature ivory pajamas, blinking away the remains of his siesta, and flashed me his trademark grin.
“Are you done with your tea, already?”, he enquired, plopping down on the make-shift sofa where we had spent countless mornings sipping away our sleep, raising an eyebrow,at the empty table; a crease cutting through his forehead when he found neither his cup nor mine.
“Can you pass me today’s papers then?”, he resignedly requested, only sighing at my prolonged silence, typically unassuming of its  
genesis.
“Oh. They..umm..haven’t been delivered yet,”, I spluttered.
Later that night when I was clearing up his desk somehow the telephone book ended up in my hands and before I knew it I had added a second line to it.
And thus began the tally.

             3. Strike Three

The third line in the book is still distinctly etched in my mind because it was the last one made when keeping count was still a possibility, albeit an obscure one.
The news of Henry’s death had taken two days to reach us because he had been dead for one whole day before the police found his body, feigning sleep on his favourite armchair.It was three more days before we could muster the courage to break the news to him.
I watched his curls ruffle in the early autumn breeze as his brow furrowed in a concentrated look he had only when thinking of cars or good food.
“Where was he from?”, he finally voiced.
Neither then. His other fond hobby as well as habit was to dig up people’s roots, from family trees to birthplaces and fifth generation cousins, thrice and again removed, hailing from the towns and cities he knew only too well.
“England. He had been living in England.”
“Really? You know, my brother lives in England.” He’s quite alone there, as he’s divorced now. He has two kids though who live in Canada.”
Yes, I thought, the vermin who had abandoned their father long before he was six feet under, scorning his love and spurning his company.
“Would you be a dear and remind me to call him up later?”
“Okay.”, I whispered, as a strong gust of wind blew away the remnants of the crimson leaves, the last of the Halloween candy wrappers and all semblance of coherence.

         4. The Crescendo

It was long after all was known and accepted and an uneasy familiarity created that I was truly punched in the gut by what was happening.
Noah had already left for the office and Keira was wrapping up her breakfast when I entered the dining hall, running late for a Wednesday meeting at the club.
He was scowling at the burnt fried eggs on his plate mumbling about ‘that slacker of a maid’ when he saw me and exclaimed,
“Aren’t you all decked up and gorgeous ? Is it your wedding day?”
I stopped in my tracks and stared, gobsmacked. Stared till I had assured myself that it was the same man, him, not somebody else who had asked the question, stared till I realised he was staring right back waiting for a response.
“No..”, I breathed, “not today.”     

                 5.Grey-er

At the last occasion that we ever celebrated, he met a comrade from the ‘golden days’ after decades and spent the evening recounting tales that were now as familiar to me as the smell of his decadent perfume.
An old friend of the family, listening in on the conversation, turned to me and affectionately mused,
“He has a remarkable memory, doesn’t he?”
Choking back the engulfing hysteria, I hushedly gave my assent.
The glinting ’50’ on the cake caused many a well-wisher to come over and remark,
“You don’t know how lucky you are.”
Indeed.

                6.Black

They say there is nothing more agonising than being the one left behind.
But I had soothed him as he begged, cajoled and pleaded to be taken back to our hometown, a place we had not left in more than half a century. I have seen his children turn casual acquaintances and the distinction between the known and the strange fade into oblivion. I have watched, I have listened and we have lived.
My husband died today and yet I could not stop relief from coursing through my veins for just one tiny, forgettable but not forgivable, moment. They say this is agonising but it has been nothing but heartbreaking to see a lifetime disappear right in front of my eyes because they don’t know that, for me, the end had begun the very first time he forgot my name.

Hook, Line and Sinker

I got my room cleaned today. I know, it sounds inane. It is inane. But as I was keeping my things back, I realised I had shuffled everything up. My room looks different now and before I could blink I hated it.

For as long as I can remember, I have had an itch. If I came back home from school and my bed was facing the opposite direction, I’d have a problem. Put up new curtains and add a laminated photo to the walls, there you have it: the ingredients for a disaster.

Maybe it is the same with everybody, I wouldn’t know- my intense snobbery has always kept me away and apart from the “ordinary human population”- but nothing has ever shaken me or unsettled me as much as change has. There would be the momentary lapse of comprehension, the subsequent  rapid almost boiling inside of me somewhere until I clench my teeth, ball up my fists, and recede to a corner. Breathe in, breathe out, burrow it in: further, deeper. The circumstances, the setting may have changed but the rest have remained eerily same even as the years have passed.

You probably find this funny considering how much you love change despite having lived at home your entire life, with the same set of friends and family and teachers and life, really; while my constant shipping off from one place to the other has left me extremely adaptable yet intensely bitter. Perhaps the two of of us feel the way we do because despite our long drawn righteous rants provoked by the greatest sheep among the most mundane, and the senseless impulsiveness of the masses, it was the easier path to choose.

For all our mathematical inclination and love for structure and rules, we too gave into simple human vulnerability. And, hard as it may be to believe, I’m not being judgemental. Just stating things as they are, to you, as there is no way I could have accepted these things on my own, to myself.

Sometimes, though, I love change. And you’re probably going to crack some weird bipolar joke about this (it wasn’t funny then, it isn’t now) but I do. Watching blank sheets turn blue and black and green and just- the colour of a brimming fullness- alfaaz as I  like to call it to feel the syllables roll of my tongue, even better if scripted in a long hand that could never be mine, with almost dripping ink. I’m such a romantic sometimes.

Then there is the sky and its constant, constant transition-in shapes, shades and shimmer- that has had me hooked perhaps before I could look that far up. But this is something you know, as do my negligible number of followers on Instagram who can only be privy to that much idiosyncrasy. In fact these paint a rather fanciful, poetic sketch of somebody who is more likely to end up as the subject of a dejected poem about rejection or some such glorified angst than become the poet herself.

The reason I’m like the jutting edge of a table you always knock your knee against without fail, over and over again- and it’s small, it’s nothing but it hurts like the goddamn devil- is that: How do I explain the sudden thrill of skin giving away to allow the rush of deep crimson? Of watching a face crumble downwards and inwards? Of keeping the world on mute like you do to that Nae Nae song that keeps popping up on the radio? How do I tell you that I have neither hated nor loved anybody or anything (not even that God awful ‘girl problem’, that you calmly accepted while I ranted and raved) as much as you; and no, it’s not that silly “I hate that you make me love you” kind of hate you read about on Tumblr and skim through in those despicable Nicholas Sparks novels of yours. It’s hate, pure and simple and ugly to its core.

You see, you had always controlled my jagged, ragged soul more than my body, mainly because I never let you take the road that is to remain not taken; and I tried-I promise-I did, and before I could fully swallow, rinse and reboot, you came down to visit (pity, was it?) and how could I? All over again?

And there’s people I talk to here. Don’t be surprised, I have my days too. I walk alone but I do talk and I do laugh, even if it is not too often. The screen is always there but I have allowed the opaque to turn translucent and I’m just giving, giving, giving; can you believe it? And for all that I’ve given, there couldn’t, shouldn’t be this intense loneliness drawing me from the shore all the time, there really shouldn’t because I tried dammit, I really did. And it makes me so helpless and breathless and caged in and I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. 

So, when you came down here, I had to clasp onto you, as hard as I could, and keep you, because I knew, somewhere inside me a dam was breaking loose, and that if you also faded into that harsh indifference or worse the casual acquaintance, soon to be forgotten- only existing in the vapid and banal WhatsApp groups- I would, no, I couldn’t. And you know how odd my sense of humor is: I ‘smuggled’ that old antique knife that you had gifted me on the first of our many firsts on the flight just to see if I would be stopped and it was a joke, it was a stupid, unfunny, fucked-up joke, until it wasn’t.

You understand, right? I’m counting on that. I’ve always been your open book, so you have to get this; especially the whys. Did I say I got my room cleaned though? I seem to be terribly confusing things these days- side effects of ‘self-imposed depression’ I suppose.

Wait, of course, I didn’t get it cleaned. I mean, the stench outside is a big enough sign; to invite them in would be suicide. 

Irony really does adore me.

But, I digress. Creating a Porphyria for myself wasn’t really the cure I was looking for. And frankly for all my queer silences, I do love breaking them for your sake; and it lies there in the corner of my tiny room, suffocating me with its unwashed, unkempt dripping sharpness. It fascinates me even as it repulses some aching part of my insides, but it is still there and i wonder, why not just let it serve it’s purpose?

Am I boring you? I have rambled on and on, haven’t I? I would apologize (no, I wouldn’t) but this is all your fault. Forget that. All I wanted to say is that I love you, I miss you, I’m surrendering to those disgusting sappy impulses for once, and make sure you wear something pretty, I’ll meet you for dinner tonight.