I almost wrote husband but my pen refused to write after the ‘s’ because, you’ll agree when I say this, two sets of toiletries in my bathroom and a promise ceremony officiated by Joey Tribbiani through the television screen don’t exactly make a marriage, although we thought otherwise back then. Atleast I did.
You see, growing up I was a scared little kid. Clowns terrified me, so did spiders. I couldn’t bear a horror movie for more than a quarter of an hour and the aftermath; let’s not even go there. But all everyday, commonplace fears of commitment aside, not for once did I doubt the plunge that I took with you; nor did I need a ring on my finger or words on paper to assure me that you’d never run away. Not from us, not like that, not ever.
It’s a different thing that we could never get any of those celebrated, time-tested hallmarks of a lasting relationship even if we wanted to.
There are times when I imagine that it was a summer fling, an impulsive mistake we made after our “one more shot” became “one too many” and the only walls left standing were those made of fabric that gave away all too easily. I imagine that we were one of those fictional holiday romances that happened one summer, then the next, and then again until you learned from your mistakes and didn’t show up the following summer. My imagination runs wild for how else do I persuade myself that it wasnt, isn’t hard to craft a tiny, white box of eight years worth of lazy mornings and torrid nights and drop it into the sea.
Then there are the times I wish either of us would have been abusive, alcoholic, unfaithful anything that could have made this imminent; a train on the edge of a bridge waiting to go off the rails. I wish you hadn’t cut yourself out of my life with a doctor’s scalpel: clean and clinical and yet goddamn painful. You could have left me something; a final row, a blow to the nose, anything that could just about paint that warped picture of you I needed, to help me lock you in my Pandora’s box and walk away. But even my memories defy me in their resolute allegiance to you.
So, here I remain in our broken flat holding the far more broken shards of us scattered around this place, like some convoluted amalgamation of Sam Smith and Adele with every successive word of this letter sounding more and more like a clingy rendition of Someone Like You; because you were always the one with the words, not me, so much so that sometimes I felt that I was holding you back and down from picking up your laptop and camera and walking away, on that journey you always wanted, with and to yourself.
But that was before a WhatsApp group I had still not left -because the people on it weren’t my friends, but ours– was flooded with engagement pictures. And she’s a honey-skinned, olive-eyed goddess with high cheekbones and a figure to die for. I hear that she’s almost as witty as you and open and accommodating and she even sings, and is there anything she can’t do?
If only it was this petty jealousy that consumed me and not the speculation about the reasons behind your choice. Was it the ugly, invasive many-headed monster,society, that you claimed you couldn’t care less about? Or was it your twisted mother’s twisted need for a grandson from her only son?
Talking about mothers, mine misses you. She keeps cajoling me to “make up” with you because she she thinks you’ve become another number on my list of people I used to be friends with, people who I gave up on, people to whom my walls became mountains. Little does she know that she couldn’t be further from the truth. You were that one person in my life who knew every nagging fear and dirty desire; all my fantasies and my weakness and I kept giving, bit by bit, until not only my flawed, naked soul but even the tiniest of thoughts that flitted through my head belonged to you. I surrendered and gave in to the idea of giving in, only for you to Ross Geller me in the end.
Sorry for my excessive Friends references. You know how I am with that.
I always knew that you entered my world hesitantly, almost unwillingly. If nothing else, your enraged outburst after you discovered that I had joined the protest in Jantar Mantar- because I cared, dammit, I cared too much- showed exactly were you stood; I was to be your dirty little secret (God, how I hate that term) and I thought you were content to be mine. How was I to know that you took to heart, the catcalls of those drunken bastards who accosted us that sultry night in July, whose words hit a little too close to home?
The things you’ll never say could fill books but that’s not what haunts me. It’s the fact that I still don’t know. Were you living a lie all those long years you spent being who I thought you were ? Or do you, even now, feel the loneliness creep into your heart in the nights when she holds you closer, tighter; because she’s a goddess goddammit, but something you never wanted and you never will. And she’s all soft corners and satin skin but you ache to feel a hard chest and the harder beating of the heart beneath it, against your back, drawing yourself to it even as you repeatedly rant about how “sickening and annoying” people who like to snuggle are. Do you miss coarse hands and an early stubble? Do you hope she’ll chop off her ethereal locks so that you can run your fingers through the crispness that you love?
And on nights when the only fight for the blanket happens between me and the side of the bed that now lies empty, I write this letter that I’ll never send, adding and removing stuff from it as and when the mood strikes; my eulogy for our relationship, which I’ll probably burn on the stove someday when I have enough ‘quarters’ in my body and a numb nervous system.
But on those nights when I do end up writing this, because sleep too has joined my list of long lost friends, it is not to make this jarring piece I refuse to call literature, any longer or clearer; and I know you would have cringed had you read the next part, but ultimately I do love clichés, and somewhere deep down I think so do you (why else would Same Love be ‘our song’); it has always been my favourite movie and because nobody has ever said it better than Jack did to Ennis:
“I wish I knew how to quit you.”
The Unsuitable Boy.