Something I had to write to keep me from going insane .
| Chapter 1 :The Falling
Coldest night of winter 2014.I sipped the last bit of latte in my cup that I had I picked up after a whole 8 hours shift at the café .I smelt of roasted coffee beans , I realized as I breathed out a swirl of white smoke into the dark air. Car headlights lit up my breathe a soothing orange and then a fleeting red before it escaped into nowhere, just like my thoughts of home and warm blankets.I walked on and on but could not find a bus or a taxi that would take me where I needed to be : home.
With all the cars speeding away past me as if everyone wanted to be somewhere other than this cold , silent road on a winter night , I felt a pang of loneliness as I let go of the paper cup onto the road side .Then I saw him.
My heart stopped. I doubted my eyes.No it was him.It was indeed , him.
A tall , slender yet well-built figure with broad shoulders flaunting a grey windbreaker, lighting his cigarette from a roadside tea stall.
More than the sight of him, just a meter or two away from me ,what struck me strange was the fact of how collected and calm I was. There he was , the person I haven’t talked to or met for years and the person who was there on the back of my mind every day .
“If you’d searched the whole wide world , would you dare to let it go.”
I stood beside him , asked the man at the stall for a cup of tea and I found him looking at me with sheer disbelief.
”HEY !!! “ we exclaimed together .
For a second or two of both of us shrilling what sounded like an incomprehensible barrage of surprise and joy and confusion of “ How have you been “ , “It’s been a long time” and “it’s so good to see you” we finally fell silent .And then we laughed .The best moment of my life .I was trying hard not to let the tears come out and make the whole situation awkward.
We finished our task at hand silently : me my cup of tea and him his cigarette .Now , well something had to be said .I popped out , “This is so crazy , me finding not a single bus on this busy road .Not even one .Can you believe this ?” He asked as more of a statement then a question , “Why don’t I give you a ride .I’ve got my car and I have nothing to do right now other than going back home.”And we both headed for his shadow of a car , a rusted sedan that seemed cozier and inviting than my actual home , I didn’t want to go home anymore , all I wanted was to get into the car with him and for the ride to last for an eternity.
He opened the door and showed me the seat beside the driver’s seat.This genteel. This was what was always so unique about him.He knew how to treat a girl like a lady like the way he would want his sister to be treated by another guy.I climbed onto the seat and sank on the leather and pulled up my hood to my chin and looked at him and said , “ Hey , Thanks.” Rolling his eyes , he broke into his childish grin “Thank yous and Sorrys.You have not changed a bit.Ha ha.” Then he turned the ignition. And the next moment we were speeding away at 70 miles per hour.
“Turn the car.Lets go somewhere else.Lets get lost.I need an escape from this city. From this insanity.”
He looked at me like I was a 5 year old trying her best to cast a spell on an adult saying “abracadabra” in baby language, unaware that magic doesn’t exist in the world of the adults. Only facts , mind games and complications. But well , he looked as if he wanted to be spellbound. Like a nostalgic 40 years old , he smiled and turned the car and headed his car toward the highway .As the buildings and cars faded into sodium lights on scarce airport road , I put my face against the cold wind and screamed “this is amazing!” Then I sank back into the seat and pulled up my sleeves to cover my freezing hands and whispered again “So colddd.Amazing.” I didn’t have the guts to look at him. I didn’t have the guts to fall in love again with the person I loved but would never be with .
“Damn .Its freezing.” Complaining , he closed the car windows .The glasses rolled upwards and then suddenly it was just me and him.It was like being stuck inside a glass bowl.”Can we stop?” I pleaded.”Whats wrong?”
“Nothing.I just need some air.”
“You’ll catch a cold.”
He pulled up and I looked straight into his eyes .It was so intense I felt irradiated.
It was a spark in his eyes that burnt for a millisecond and before I could see it anymore , he was laughing like a maniac.And then he unleashed the calm psychopath that I always knew dwelled somewhere deep inside of him that he was not consciously aware of .The windows rolled down and the car flew and tyres screeched and the car skated .I untied my bun and let my hair fly in the wind and I felt my righteousness crumble , my conscience devoured by passion and thrill and excitement and my ear drums echoed “nothing matters.nothing matters.” What seemed like a roller coaster ride now was a merry go round.
We hopped out of the car together. “Bam ! “ he closed the door as I shuddered in cold.He looked up at the skies. I looked at him and realized he was the kind of person who, while looking at the night sky didn’t gaze into the stars ; rather , his eyes probed the vast expansion of space and searched , examined and observed as if he had to understand the meaning beyond those pretty stars , because he had come close to and lived within and seen all that went on the ground shone by the star lights and what went abut on the grounds he stood on was not all pretty. And because of that it became all the more imperative on him to find out what it was all about: the stars burning their lives away and why it happened and he now had to look for the answers to all his “Why”s , even in this beautiful mural by which I could only be amused .
“How old is your soul ?” escaped a whisper through the slits between my teeth first and then my lips and it sounded moistened with the dews from the cold air.
He now inspected me the same way he had been testing the skies and I looked back into his eyes too. Nobody dropped the gaze .it was like a game we used to play when we were kids , we were not allowed to blink nor were we allowed to look away. First it was bridging of two very different minds so that impulses and thoughts could flow between the two , the next it was the manifestation of the theory of the Unification of the universe. It was the sense of belonging and then knowing that we had all been one. Leibnitz’s monads .Individual but one .Separate but united .The knowing forced a riot inside , it plummeted and crashed and devoured and vomited .It took and gave .It let go forever and then it embraced for an eternity.
And suddenly it was all calm .The storm’s passing. And at that moment I knew, I would never be the same again.
I was fatally, in love with THE BOY.
Chapter 2 : The Clover
This story does not have an ending. I assure you this and you could take it as a warning and stop reading .Somewhere along the road , humans have started believing in things that are defined ,things that could be seen or proved ,the things that can provide a loud presence on the sensory neurons .Humans got bored with allegories and metaphors.Nobody believes in signs ,shadows and silhouettes anymore , they are mere illogical nonsense, they would say. A good story or a story of value is ,to humans nowadays, one with a starting that progresses to an ending ; one that satisfies and gives pleasure. Entertainment. But my story is not about satisfaction nor is it about completion .It’s a story that is fragmented and is abstract and all that I find of value are the moments of truth .The moments that made me realize the worth of living , taught me the preciousness of each breath that human being lets out or takes in be it in agony or ecstasy .My love never lead to a relationship, I did not build anything out of love , I just lived it and now it is over , for me for him and for the world. But I know that every part of my conscious and the subconscious has been scarred and kissed and frozen and burnt from this and I would not have been what I am now if I had not written about it and let a little of it escape through to the outside. Even the smallest memories of what I have felt and experienced , the tiniest detail of THE BOY is so overwhelming it is suffocating to contain it all inside.
There was a girl standing at the middle of a sea of whiteness .White waves danced and crumbled in the soft breeze that smelt of honey and of crisp sunshine .The girl wore a white summer dress, intricate webs of white laces and ribbons grazing her bare feet. Her long brown hair, showing through her favorite straw hat, danced just below her shoulders. Tied loosely around her wrist was a sunflower with a grass string. She chewed on a grass stalk and talked to herself. On that one particular summer, in one particular daisy field, heaven happened. Yes, heaven .For real. The girl was myself, from just a year ago .I had been waiting for him for an hour , I had almost made up my mind on going back home after picking up a basket full of daisies but then he came.
From his old grey sedan, he came down dressed in white cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a pair of old worn out jeans bluer than the midsummer sky.
“So you did come. I was almost going back home. What took you so late?”
“This.” His eyes gleaming with accomplishment and jewels of sweat glistening on his forehead, his soft messy hair blowing in the breeze like dandelions in autumn, he thrust his right hand between us. And in his hand he held a clover. A four leaf clover. And that was when time stood still. That was, exactly when heaven happened on earth.
“This better not be a dream.”I prayed.
I prayed .I prayed and prayed ,not knowing what else to do.
Chapter 3 :
Coup de foudre
Trying to remember how it all happened always gives away to thousand confusions inside my mind. In the end I always find myself asking whether how I remember it is part of actual memories or if it is a mere illusion I have created. Well, but does it matter, at all ? They say, everything we see and live in, could just be an illusion: an image painted inside some form of a higher consciousness that humans don’t understand.
Before I met him , or more accurately , before I saw him , my life was so ordered , following its own pattern and there was nothing I had to long for , nothing that I felt was missing. So sometimes , I feel like he came into my life through a wormhole ; somehow , maybe two different dimensions of reality that was not meant to interconnect, came in touch with each other by an accidental collapse of a law of physics.Does nature allow accidents to happen ? I guess it does.
The Boy , has always been like a falling comet to me .Untouchable , unreachable .I could only stand mesmerized by the way it shone and disappeared and moved further and further away from me and I had accepted the truth the way it was .You could not possibly want to try to get hold of a comet and make it yours.You will never be fast enough , and even if you were , it will only burn you to ashes.
But I knew , I would rather be ashes floating in the stratosphere , than to be so far away from him.
I was only eighteen that Spring .The only thing I was worried about was my A level exams just a few months away .Through an isolated corridor , I walked ; exhausted from the elaborate science classes and the weight of the school bag on my shoulders .I stepped into the library that I believed was empty as usual at those times,the afternoon hours everybody, except a nerd like myself, choose to hang out with friends rather than be picking up books like basic Molecular biology.I was about to walk towards the shelf tagged Biology, but I stopped and walked towards the shelf labeled “Fiction”.I still don’t know what fateful whim made me do that , that day .As I have said , nature does allow accidents.
I should have made a blind dash toward the exit but I stood there , gasping ,gaping ,my eyes wide open with incredulity.That was the first time I saw the BOY .He was sitting at the corner in between two book shelves ,reading. I looked , my eyes claiming a full blown anarchy against my brain which demanded at first, then instructed , requested and in the end started begging on its knees to look away and to leave. But I stood there and watched the whole scenary , like a baby hypnotized by a pantomime. He was sitting , leaning against the white wall , part of his face covered by his hair. His hair almost touched his shoulders ,a smooth , wavy cascade of darkest mahogany I had ever seen in my life .A golden haze of the dying sun kissed his hair and his cheek where gold and cream melted into one nameless color.He sat ,the book on his knees ,with his black converses unlaced but neatly paired beside him ,his two feet covered in unpaired socks ,one grey and one black rested on the soft magenta carpet of the library.In the background was a huge glass window through which I could see pink cherry blossom petals falling down one after another ;rosy innocence resorting to mass suicide because the world was unbearably beautiful to live in.The whole picture would have been one of a complete harmony only messed up beyond repair by the conflicting presence of the Boy,in whose aura , everything else faded into an oblivion. I had forgotten the fact that first caused me to gasp, that I had never even imagined anyone to be inside the library,except for myself at that time long after the classes were over. I had first mistaken him for a ghost. But as I looked longer and more deeply at the ghost ,his existence struck me more compelling and real than any living human being I had ever met. He looked up from his book , and even before our eyes could meet , I picked up my feet from the quicksand and ran. I grabbed my bag and held onto my lucky pen with my teeth since my hands were full with the bag and the notes ,I ran out from the library , through the school field, down the neighborhood streets, to my bed room where I locked myself up and cried myself to sleep because I could not stop my heart from beating like a hammer and because I could not fall out from my window like the cherry blossom petals .
Coup de foudre is a French word that literally translates to thunderbolt. Figuratively , it could also mean something that sounds so clichéd in English : “Love at first sight.”
Chapter 4 : Onions
I had read about them in books ,watched them in movies and listened to my friends talk about them: one night stands ,crushes , infatuations , relationships ;accompanied by heart breaks ,break ups and exes . But they always seemed very distant ,they were things that happened to people and something that people did to each other : the caring, sharing and the hurting .And “the people” excluded myself , so I had supposed. I was indeed, very, very wrong.
But one thing was clear .What I felt for the BOY , I did not need to define and I would not be able to, even if I needed to, since my vocabulary did not possess a noun that would give a name to what I felt for him ,although it had many adjectives to describe it. I neither compared it with the things that happened to people nor did I try to put it into some category of human relations. Because I knew. I knew it was true.
Through the next few weeks , I found myself looking for him in every place I went .At the times I waited for a bus or a train ,I hoped the person standing in front of me or the person standing behind me in the queue would be him. When I went to the library to pick up a book ,instead of looking at book titles,I found myself daydreaming about him reading a book somewhere inside the library.I used to go to the cafeteria and sit alone and look at the people ,my eyes filtering through the avalanche of moving lips ,darting eyes and a widely varying silhouettes. In vain.
I was young enough to believe that if something was meant to happen, it would , regardless of you making an effort or not.And that faith gave me patience .It made me wait. I waited for the universe not to allow another accident but I gave it time to conspire and create a situation in which I would have a pretty little chance to talk to him.I waited for a freaking one and a half year until one day, suddenly my father passed away from a heart attack.He died in the same room in the same hospital where his mother, my grandmother, had breathed her last a year ago from then. I had enough of nature letting accidents happen.It was time for me to stop wasting time waiting.
Months after my father’s death , part of me still denied to accept the fact that he was gone.I just could not accept that his long bushy beard would never scratch my forehead every time I flung myself into his arms.But the more I watched my mother ,the more I realized that love was meant to be chased if it was true.It was meant to be chased before it was too late.
So after a long year of yearning and waiting and praying and wishing, I finally made an actual effort. I started talking to my best friend about him and it was not long before she collected me his number from a friend of a friend and I started to type my long letter of a confession that was passionate and pathetic at the same time in my cellular phone .Then I pressed SEND.I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I felt a humongous burden lifted off my chest.
Then the reply came :
“I don’t know you and I don’t even know where you have seen me but I am happy that you had the guts to tell me.We don’t know each other so why don’t you first get to know me then decide if you like me or not.”
First, I was over the moon ,happy that he did reply.But slowly , the fear started to sink in.I read the message again and again and again until I had every word with the punctuations burnt into my memory and then I started to contemplate .As I gave it more and more thought, the thoughts turned into worries and the worries turned my hair grey and folded my forehead into wrinkles . I bit my lips until they bled and I peeled off the dead skin from my lips and chewed on it. I chewed and chewed and chewed on the saltiness. I was wasting time again.
“Get to know me first.” That was what he had said. Alright. But how ?
Human beings are in many ways like onions. You peel each layer to find out what lies beneath it .Every time you try to peel off a layer, it makes you cry. You cry , your eyes sting , you are hurt. But you know it’s worth it all because there’s something under that layer that’s separating you from the core of the onion .And you have to get to the core no matter how many drops of tear you shed on the cutting board.After you have peeled off all the layers , some onions have a core that is unscarred and fresh ,white as snow with a streak of the purest emerald gleam. But some onions do have cores that have been eaten away by pest from the inside, rotten into a yellowish brown with a stench that makes you flinch.
If I had to get to know him, I would have to start peeling.
So one Friday night ,I tiptoed to the rooftop of my building , fourteen stories higher from the ground where the stores were closing down , tired people counting the day’s sales and pulling down shutters noisily under the orange sodium lights. I dialed the number.No answer.Redial.Still no answer.I learnt the meaning of frustration,newly.I took a deep breath and put my cell phone quietly on the water tank and climbed up on the tank, sat with my legs dangling ,toes freezing .My noses were so pink from the cold I must have looked like the deers that pull Santa Clause’s ledge. Then I looked at the cage full of pigeons at the corner of the rooftop .My uncle’s pets.Beautiful creatures with wings white as snow .Wasted grace trapped inside criss crossing iron grills.What does freedom mean to them? Or liberty ?I jumped down from the tank and walked toward the cage. “Some kind of madness is swallowing me whole” my earphones playing trance music , I contemplated unlocking the cage and setting the pigeons,my uncle’s prized possessions ,free. Into the night.I had imagined something extraordinary to happen.I expected a flock of white angelic figures disappearing into darkness ,fading into and beyond the stars .Divine beings returning to the heavens .I also imagined my uncle’s fury in the morning when he would find out the empty cage , a dead carcass ripped off its souls. Then I unlocked the cage door.Nothing happened.A pigeon hopped on the door and went into the cage and pecked on food. There it lay :the door to its freedom open,while it choose to remain a prisoner and pecked on grains.Before disappointment could take a hold of me, I was startled by my phone as it rang ,screen glowing and the caller’s name “The boy” pulsating.I answered the phone.
It was the first time I was talking to a boy over the phone just for the sake of “getting to know him better”.I asked ,”What’s your favorite color?”
He erupted in a burst of laughter which was good natured humor laced with a hint of mockery. When he was done laughing , he said , “Okay , so do I need to teach you how to start a conversation now?”
I don’t remember him teaching me how to start a conversation that night, but I do remember very clearly that , our conversation lasted until the break of the dawn.
He asked me about any mutual friends we might have had and I replied vaguely but inside my head a voice kept screaming,”Does it matter if we have mutual friends or not.Why the question of mutual friends; so that we could hang out and go places , play bowling or sing at the karaoke and get wasted ?Why does the presence of people we both know has to be important when all I want to do is to be with you, not the people around you.I seek solitude interrupted by only YOUR presence.”
“I am not a good person.” He said.
“The definition of Good, is very subjective .What is good to one is evil to another.”
“What is the worst crime anyone could be guilty of?”
“Umm.Idon’t know.Taking a person’s life?”
“I’ve even been close to that.”
“Is it supposed to scare me away?”
“No , I’m just saying you should be warned .I mean, aware.Aware of the fact that I am not a very good person.”
“Okay. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?”
“There was this time when I went on a family trip to the sea side.And there was this sun set.That was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
I loved listening to him talk ,a boy who has almost murdered someone and who loved watching sun sets on sea beaches with his family , his voice was like a lullaby to my ears,my eyes drowsy but my other senses completely awake, recording every information he shared with me,a complete stranger to him.Was I still a complete stranger ?Do you tell a stranger that you are not a good person?
The moon was bleached ,its yellow gleam slowly fading ,a glimpse of the morning emanating from the eastern horizon turning the moon to a pale shadow of a ghost when I realized it was time to pretend to be asleep before my mother awoke to prepare breakfast.
Me :“Hey , thanks for the call.I want you to know how grateful I am.”
The boy : “What is wrong with you.Don’t ever think that I am doing a favor by talking to you.”
Me : Okay .But thanks again.
The boy : Shut up ! stop thanking me for nothing.Anyways, we’ll talk more.Bye.
My cell phone pulsated again , in red , telling me the battery was running out.I turned it off , leaped down the stairs in excitement , almost missed a step , somehow landed without breaking a leg ,went into my mother’s bed and slipped into the cozy blanket ,curled up beside her and dozed off .
Two weeks passed .It had become a ritual for me to check my phone every few hours .There was no sign of him trying to reach out to me.Then the ritual turned into a habit.Habit turned into something that bordered on OCD.Yes, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.I could not wait anymore.I had this ominous feeling of running out of time.The urge.The rush.It demanded my sanity in return of nothing .