Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017, Featured Writer, Bijoyini Maya

500 Days of Spring

Eight years they say.... after eight long years the stars have conspired yet again. Eight years have passed and the previous pain hasn’t dulled nor have I sort any medicine to cure it. Does that tell you anything about me? That explains why is falling in love so easy? You keep thinking the world is full of evil and then- you stumble across a gem of a person... just like that!! And where?? Inside an enclosed claustrophobic train compartment. The worst part being from an extremely cautious mistrusting alert woman you let your guards down and become the sweetest fool you could have imagined existing in this world. And days later you feel like punching all of them who lectured you on positivity and begged you to trust others. Every time I trust – does not matter the man is a saint or Satan– this is what I get! A bucketful of tears and my heart broken numerous times, forgotten its metaphorical shape!

Why do we not think of the biological shape of our heart? Or how would our brain respond to any such emotion? How do I still stop it (taking for granted, the heart rules) from loving someone – worthy, unworthy, loser, gainer, wonderful, obnoxious person. No, I do not try anymore. I do not believe nobody can break it further or more worse than myself. So here I am, pining over just one text that you might not send me in the whole day. As if my life depended on that one message that conveys you are fine and enjoying yourself wherever you are... with whomever. Why on earth wouldn’t you be fine!? If you are not, there are enough living organisms to make sure you do. Moreover, you would never tell me if you aren’t doing well!! Who am I?? All this for a thirty two hours journey! Why are my train trips so expensive?? 

It ends up costing me more than all the money in the world can buy! You are priceless though. My obsession hangs on to the memories forever and the trips continue to prick, wound, burn, scathe, dig, till my body withers away into dust. But let me think over from the beginning... where, how and why. Would that change anything? No. Nonetheless, my soul will get over the fact that the first month I could not even recollect your face. My eyes never saw anything beyond your eyes and if somebody asks me today to describe you, I would not know what to reply. Now it makes sense why that aged lady was trying to warn me that you are young and look like a kid. Because you are one! She was trying to save me from getting hurt by you. Your eyes are a window to another world – to the Himalayas – to fairyland – to a place calm and peaceful.

There have been many who tried to help me with my luggage, but you were the only one I felt sorry for not taking help from. And look what I did to make you feel better – let you help me so much so that I feel indebted to meet or repay. I shouldn’t have let you take control, give the reigns of your carriage to a five-year old and sit back to view the pillage. An unknown emotion for thirty years of living. For the first time I grew conscious of my inappropriate attire (when did I ever bother about presentation!?), scattered grey hair (who cares?), wrinkles appearing on my forehead (just in thirties!), impractical outlook (feel immature) and millions of other flaws which were non-existent till this moment. Why did you have to read a book I have been looking for years?  Never initiated conversation but I was destined to break all rules with you so that you become the last cup of poison Meera drank. Is it happening now or déjà vu? Are you like the others with an original mask?  

Meera was immortal, why it never occurred to God I may not survive this giant wheel ride ending in a poisonous grail. All I asked for was the book for a few hours, not for you to give me the book for keeps. You see, it is dangerous if I keep your memory with the book, your handwriting, hollow words, thoughts that might be untrue. Have you seen parents distributing alms to beggars in temples? They do not remember the beggars’ faces in their contentment of giving. What happens when one beggar hangs on to their charity assuming the object given is a token of care? How can you care for a stranger? Has any beggar ever attracted you? Today is not the day to ask this. By the time I can ask you this we may not be conversing with each other.
It all began with a book and the next twenty eight hours of our journey into wilderness! How did we begin the conversation? Do you remember? The lights outside my window seat, or if you have read other books by the same author or thank you for helping with the bag or — I just can’t remember how did you come and sit beside me. Aargh! I was not tracking them. Wish I had observed every word you said, every move you made, every gesture displayed. That would not change the future, absolutely not, but it would have given my mind something else to ponder on. One obsession leading to another — books to you. The whole night you sat beside me listening to junk and I still cannot figure out this huge “why?” Then your destination arrived and that is the moment my conscious mind detached itself from everything tactile around me.

It began to float in an imaginary world full of your voice, your contact information, time spent with you and time spent without you. You have never read classical literature. You don’t even like fiction. So Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights wouldn’t mean much to you. Now I’m even certain you never read Saki. I was one of the many contacts in your phone and you became “the contact” in my device. Somewhere deep inside I knew you are a package of trouble. However, regrets will never cover your fossils with dust. Those political debates that finally took the light away, your obsessions that came in the way of mine and your indifference that swayed over my indulgence. Years later when I am living with a man I would never love, bringing up his children thinking my son should grow up to be like you, compromised existence as the society wanted me to, those beautiful moments are all I have to cherish, to treasure.

You think I’d actually think of you in this way right? You were always full aware of your importance, the way I texted you first, the thoughtlessness of me in giving you all unwanted information, the nagger who told you secrets she never shared with anybody else. You think they will bring tears of joy for a life that will never be my future as you have the benefit of enjoying another company or escaping from this world in some art of living propaganda. I have to agree life would have been bleak, bland, colourless, adventureless, motionless and soulmateless without you. But if you think this pain decorates my mind like the garland exchange ceremony of our imaginary wedding, think again kid, in the reverse order. There were times I felt stupid for storing the empty packets of gifts you brought me; now happy for acting the way I am and always will be — a story collector. Do you know who I am? Why did anybody ever give me the nickname Cleopatra? 

You’ll imagine all your life I will never be myself to anybody again except you till you forget me. You’d be amused musing over these afterthoughts. No phone can store texts forever; no inbox can keep mails for a lifetime, passwords change, handsets break and what can you do if you happen to break my heart. The world thinks what I want it to think, it acts in the same cliché manner I predict. You’ll actually never know what’s on my mind. The mind is where it is engraved and you are not in it. Diaries too can be burnt darling. Have I said anything? Did you understand anything that remains unsaid?

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