Friday, May 20, 2011

Losing you?

I fear losing you. 
Stupid cliche?
I think not. 
Not anymore.
Scary? Not when it 
Happens to someone else. 

When it's you?  
Shatters my world. 

What world, really? 

The one we've carefully 
Built together? 
Of the home facing the sea? 
Where sounds of your 
Laughter, are what only waves 
Are made of? 

Where love runs through 
The hallways
Like a child, mischievous?

Where arguments crumble 
Like our daughter's dominos?
Where you and I grow 
To love one another. 
Grow older? Better?

Where beauty fades away.
But love engulfs?

Is it the same home? 
The same world?
Is it so brittle? 
A mere domino, 
Is that what it is?

Answer me this. 
You owe me an explanation. 
You give me some answers. 

I know you have none.

Answer me this. 
Wash me of my guilt.
So I hate not my own soul. 

Do this for us. Do this for me. 
Selfishness, I seek refuge in you. 
Wipe away my tears. 
And I shall wipe yours.

For is that not what makes you and me,
My soulmate?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Of the life gone by and the life to be lived

She stared out of the window, perched on the sill, staring at the trees that arched the road. The evening
was peaceful, the kids away at a camp, the husband away at work. She was alone, all alone.

Alone with her thoughts, she pondered about her life gone by, the life she was leading. The perfect life. She had chosen her career, her job, her husband, everything. Her parents, bless them, had given her all kinds of freedom. “I want to take up finance,” she’d told them firmly. Her mother was convinced she’d be better at languages, but never took away her freedom to make her life’s decisions.

She sighed. Maybe she needed some more convincing? Or maybe a mother who had controlled her life just a little bit?

After college, and hating every minute of it, she was now an investment banker. Whatever that was, really. “Little Ms. Finance and all that”, her friends mocked her. “I love finance! What makes you think I don’t?!”, she asked, sounding more convinced than she felt. No one else was convinced either. 

What were her talents, really? She could converse well, loved the languages, was good at them and loved to read. But were these talents? Not unless she did something useful with them. 

The clock steadily ticked away. Her thoughts strayed to the life she could have led. Settled in some strange land, where no one knew her, where there would be no prejudices, no pressure to please and fit in. Some place that would consider her plain looks exotic and not just another face in the crowd. 

Why hadn't she take up a more creative field? At least something that didn’t have a bloody dress code? Even the people she kept running into were like products of a sausage factory. Identically dressed, full of numbers, stock markets, the Wall Street…she wanted to scream!

The friends thought she traveled to a hundred different exotic countries every year – so lucky! Sure.

Again, she’d meet the same type of people, just with blue eyes or different hair. Scratch the surface and they were all the same. The business trips were the worst. Always in the best, most glamorous of hotels, too much splendour, everyone on their best fake behaviour. Before she knew it, it would be time to come back to the children’s homework, deciding what the husband would like for dinner, preparing more presentations, the obligatory sex…

Her thoughts cut to the time in college when she’d first started dating Nikhil. Nope, no exoticism there either. They were classmates, friends, part of the same group, grew to love each other.

In hindsight, did she actually ever love him enough to marry him? He was a very nice person, a dutiful husband, a loving father, a wonderful son, the perfect son-in-law – the list of everything amazing he was, was endless. He’d do anything to keep her happy, but then…why was she even having this conversation with herself?

“Time to face the truth, hon”, she told herself. She’d married Nikhil out of some obligation. She was incredibly fond of him, but it was more indirect parental pressure to marry that ‘lovely boy’ and the lack of a concrete excuse to not marry him, that led her to say yes. Marrying Nikhil was like marrying a beloved friend. There wasn’t a life without him, but was the one for her. Did she want someone Bohemian? She didn’t know. Perhaps someone who wouldn’t be so conventional about life, who wouldn’t have the next twenty years panned out in advance.

What would she do, if given half a chance to start all over? Well, she’d throw caution to the winds, truly this time. Be a hippie, begin with that tattoo she always wanted, move on to making a bonfire out of her business suits, then major in French or German, move continents, travel alone, the list was endless. Why wasn't it legal to sometimes forget that you had a husband and children, and just do what you wanted? 

What wouldn’t she give to not pretend she was the dutiful wife she wasn’t, in her head? She wanted to
glob trot, live on her own terms. For once, she didn’t want to be tied down to the shackles of marriage,
the constant adjustments and compromises that came with it. When had she lost the freedom of walking
out, for good?

Suddenly, she was scared. Very, very scared. What was she thinking? She had everything anyone would ever want from life. But that was the thing. Anyone would want the life she was leading. But not her. She wanted to do something about it.

But where does one start taking charge of one’s own life?

Her thoughts were interrupted with the ring of her cellphone… “Nikhil Baby”, it said, merrily.

“Hello babe. Have you left office?” she asked.

“Yep. Home in half an hour. Dinner had better be something good. I’m famished!” he said.

“Yeah. Come on over. Dinner is something you’ll love,” she smiled.

“Great! See you. And I love you, wifey,” he said, hanging up.

She quickly busied herself heating dinner, making rotis. Nikhil liked dinner ready when he came home from work, and that was the least she could do, wasn’t it? Her mind began making a mental to-do list: Presentation for tomorrow, dishes to be done, the car to be given for servicing for next day, helping the kids with their projects…it sure was a long day ahead.

She quickly got busy with her list, trying to knock off work so as to sleep on time. A long list of chores was waiting for her.

Restarting her life? That could wait. She had dinner to get ready, first.

There was no one else, there never could be...

He woke up after a very brief afternoon nap. The time was 4.30 pm, the day, Saturday. He got out of bed, fixed himself some tea and switched on some TV. 

Some time later, he checked the clock again…Yikes! It was almost 5 pm. Izzie would be mad at him, for the umpteenth time. She’d almost given up on him. He rushed about the house like a headless chicken – he had exactly 20 minutes to move out. There were flowers to be picked up, too. How did he always end up being late despite waking up on time and having the best intentions? This was surely one of the unexplained mysteries of the universe.

Rush, rush, rush…He rushed through his shower, wore the shirt she liked on him best, the deo she loved and the Puma shoes she’d bought him two years ago. Pretty pleased with what he saw in the mirror, he stepped out, maneuvering through traffic, halting with a screech straight at the florist’s doorstep.

Nothing had changed. He’d been buying her the same orchids for the past year and a half. Salimbhai would keep the bouquet ready every Saturday, he’d pay and whisk off with a ‘Thanks, Salimbhai!’.

Today was no different. Off he sped from Salimbhai’s. Hastily finding the first available parking space, he walked briskly, bouquet in tow. Soon he was outside the gates. 

“Arey Sir, you’re 20 minutes late again,” chuckled Fernandes.

“Yeah man, traffic!” he panted.

Entering, he walked over to the spot she always waited for him, patiently. She’d stopped complaining these days; resigned to her fate, perhaps.

All was silent – there was just another man sitting on the grass, with his eyes close. He looked at peace with his solitude, oblivious to the world he was physically present in. Our man, too, sat down on the grass opposite her.

As usual, she didn’t say anything.

“Sorry Izzie, I’m late. Don’t hate me!” he said, very apologetic. He put down the flowers before her, knowing she’d be too mad right now to appreciate them. But she’d preserve the bouquet till he gave her a new one next week.

She didn’t say anything. He knew she couldn’t remain angry with him for long, something he was deeply grateful to all the powers of the universe for.

Soon, he was chatting up a storm. He told her about his week, the upcoming 3-week work trip to Sweden, and she listened without interrupting. “But don’t you worry. I’ll be back soon, okay, love?” he reassured her.

Suddenly, there was silence.

“I love you, Isabel,” he said, and he never meant it more.

A silent tear trickled down his cheek. He didn’t brush it off; he didn’t try swallowing his tears either. He stayed absolutely still, didn’t move one inch for the fear of losing the beautiful moment he was a part of. With her. 

There was no one else, there never could be.

He was caught in the most beautiful moment of his life. He closed his eyes and let it engulf him.

He opened his eyes, got up and silently walked out of the graveyard, feeling complete, fulfilled and in love like never before.

There was no else, there never could be.