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I say I’m liberated. I feel perfect. Whole again. I love being whole without you. I can think without facing you at every turn of my thoughts; the knight on the white horse is once again, a blurred face, and being whole without you does render me a damsel terribly in distress.
I’m proud too. There is no “just friends”; you’ve changed. There was a time when we used to cherish the silences- the times when I used to wait when my mom would leave the house, just so that I could call you. I’d call you eighteen times if she left eighteen times and more besides. We’d talk, do you remember? Do you remember when silence didn’t mean discomfort and boredom? It was just the phone-line connection we loved; we were linked to each other’s existence. I perfected the art of eating, writing, reading, typing, with one hand, the art of living while keeping a ear out for the life of another. Do you remember when I began singing through our silence? Do you remember when you began playing your black guitar and I asked you…I asked you what you were doing? You told me you were adding music to my song. Your life was music to me; I was glad you loved my voice. When I told you that, you told me you loved everything about me. I’m incapable of not loving you.
There are many things about life and life and life I learnt from you. One was that silence is an extraordinary teacher. From our conversations, I realized I learnt more about you from the silence than the words we uttered. It’s ironical, how silence can be a lie and how, sometimes, it’s just the only proof of honesty, of the absence of frills and confetti and crimson smoke.
Oh, you’d be surprised when I tell you all I heard in the silences.
You’re alone almost all day; in your huge, many-floored house, your dad calls you up from some other nook in your house, to know where you are and to ask you to show your face. I find it outlandish, a father using a phone to talk to a son in the same house; it makes me call your place a “house”, not a home, but again, it’s just me, you know, the ranting.
I know your grandma lives with you and that you love her a lot; I know it’ll make you quiet when I tell you that she’s the only person you love who I’m not jealous of. It’s sick I know but I hate it, hate the fact that you have a sister, cousins, uncles - people who have claims on you and can visit you and hug your skinny shoulders.
You’re close to your sister and proud of her. When she’s on break from her boarding school, you love jesting with her; you both call each other names and swear but I figure it’s all for my benefit. I know, in your own strange way which oh yes, overlaps my own strange way, you think abuse and slang is a minor sign of freedom. And you love freedom. Just like me.
You love gaming. I’ve lost count of the times when the aggressive clicking of keyboard keys, the blasts and rustles of video games I’m clueless about, are the sole reason for hours of the “duration” in my phone bills.
I know you like the “upstairs”. There are a lot of times you wait for my call, standing on your terrace. You’ve told me that there’s a wild overgrown ground next to your house; you’ve seen men dressed in rags and uniforms shuffling there, picking, smoking, sniffing weeds. I remember that because that was the time you made me promise never ever to even think about drugs, and I made you promise the same. That was lame but you just laughed and promised me all the same.
You spend the evenings roaming the city with your friends. You love kebabs and at twilight, I can usually hear traffic all around you, along with the laughter and teasing of your friends. When I say I’ll call you later, you say it’s no problem for us to talk then and it’s weird how everything concurs – the traffic and whir of vehicles, the loud voices of your friends, the forever music in my house, our intermittent words to each other, the spicy street kebabs I can only sense you eating.
Apart from the guitar, I know you can play the drums and the piano as well. You can compose in your sleep and chords, keys and strings come as naturally to you as the ABC.
You’re the relationships consultant of the city; I’ve heard you receive calls from guys begging you to talk to the girl concerned. You’ve conveyed breakups, apologies, excuses, proposals. I just listen and after you’re done, you turn to me, telling me ‘actually’ what happened and I listen. Sometimes I realize how many people I share you with and it makes me crazy anxious because you know I think too much and when I think about me sharing you, I go on thinking and thinking and then I worry. I worry whether it’s the other way around, that it’s not me doing the sharing but them. And that freaks me out so much. I love you too much for your own good.
All the guys crash at your house- you’re the gaming, music, dance centre. You radiate fun.
Your mom helps you with Biology and she has long, black hair.
Your grandma is worried about how little you eat. When she gets you Horlicks in the evening, you protest but it’s your usual joking self. I asked you whether you like Horlicks and you said you like it and you don’t like it. I asked you whether you’re sure about anything at all in life and you said yes and no.
If I’d told you any of this, you’d be quiet. Very quiet. And then you’d say something intense which would bowl me over and the ridiculously little amount of consciousness which exists when I’m talking to you would vanish in a flash and I’d be desperate and scared of anything you might say because I know, I so know how you could kill me with just one tiny insensitive word which maybe wasn’t even meant to be insensitive and I start choking and I want to remember what you said and I try to listen to what you are saying and I want to continue this conversation so bad and I realize I can’t be vulnerable and scared and so, I rush rush rush and I breathe, the tearing little bits of me come close together as my ego washes over me and a cool, joking, fun version of me is saying something shallow and incredibly witty and you laugh or become put off and our conversation goes on, only the lies have begun again and you know because you’re someone who just knows and the spell is broken.
I’d hate it when you’d be angry; you broke me so often but then, you were both wound and balm. You heard me out when I spoke, you were silent, keeping judgment and truth to yourself, when I lied and pretended. I thought you’d never know – never know that I’m what they call a living lie. Loving you was the most honest thing I ever did; I hoped I’d keep us away from the lies. I wonder why I never told you I loved you; saying the truth many times might be redeeming. I tacked it on though; “love you” was the universe’s new sorry, thank you, hey, bye, see you, please and you were the universe.
What is that you do to me? What have you got that makes me shiver with cold in the hottest summer days? Your ability to make me forget the last line I said? To make me breathe deeply before I dial your number? To make me incapable of wittiness and truth? I want to be perfect with you; you’re my imperfect perfection, do you know that? I know I’m selfish. I take so much for granted. I thought you’d know that I keep thinking the three words all the time. I wish you knew that wherever I go, the skies hear your name. That I whisper your name into the pillow, into my cat’s fur, into the stars.
The music. That’ll always be us. It was the guitar which made me fall in love; now it keeps me in it. I’d watch from afar, my heart thudding in a way I didn’t know it was capable of, as you’d hold your black guitar and sing. Your thin fingers would waltz across the strings and the veins in your throat would show when you sang. Your voice is dangerous. It is sweet oblivion; it makes people forget; it’s a fantasy. When people ask me who my favourite singer is, I smile and remember and then say Taylor Swift. If I’m having a bad day, or a good one, whatever you take it, I say Devil. They never know who I’m talking about then but people don’t question me.
When I was staying with my best friend, I called you from her place; she wanted to hear your voice. The famous devil, she said. So I said okay and I smiled and she was holding the receiver while I dialed your number and she told me the call had gone through and even though she was the one who was holding the fatal receiver, my heart was thudding again and I was feeling both hot and icy. She jerked a little then and each particle of my being was now only focused on her because it was your number I’d dialed. She said ‘hello’ and then asked you whether you were devil. She actually took your name, your beautiful first name with three syllables and ten letters, but I don’t really like thinking that word anymore. You’d said yes and then she said just wait a minute and gave the phone to me. She winked at me and I’d smirked, so proud of you, when I saw you’d made her jittery with just a plain ‘yes’ from your breathy, seductive, soft, singing, elusive, musky voice.
Our lives connected like a dream, like two lost tendrils in the universe coiling around each other tentatively. When people talk about the ‘seven minutes of fame’, I remember us because even our togetherness was something along the same lines, something real and remarkable which just seems like a blur of colour, music and romance, seven months in paradise which I think I’d have been better off without, because it makes reality harsher. I’ve to face it, that the dreamy, hopeful beginning we had, faded away with its own dreamy end, the tendril uncoils, slowly and they’re both lost and away from each other. You said you couldn’t take it anymore. I’d thought we were doing fine, thought we were doing good. It had been four months since we hadn’t seen each other, two since I’d left the city, but we remained unaffected. It came as a shock to me and I wondered what you couldn’t take anymore because I’d have changed it, idiot. I’d have done anything, you gormless fool, but no, you didn’t bother talking before, you just wrote that out of the blue. You said you were sorry and that you wanted to be alone. And you said sorry again and said you knew I’d understand. Then the third sorry which made me mad and then ‘bye’ which officially established the breaking of my heart. Shred rip bleed.
I’m a very powerful dreamer, you know. I have strong dreams every single night, dreams which are so real because they’re about people in my life and relevant situations, sometimes about the past, the now, the coming years, about possibilities and hopes and broken dreams. They’re like movies I watch when I close my eyes for sleep and it takes many hours of bright sunlight to take me back to what has actually happened and what I just dreamt. Life has a tough time reminding me where the dream began and reality ended.
That’s what happened with you. I was numb. I accepted it, wrote you a cheerful mail admonishing you for apologizing and I said I understood. I wished you luck for the school year ahead – after all, you were a senior now and I clicked on “Send”. I didn’t call you or mail you anymore after that. Every time our tendrils would drift away, yours would be one which would creep up and brush against mine. That’s what you did again; a month of silence and you surprised me with your question, you asked me whether I’d ever heard of you and said you were still alive.
The times I don’t love, I hate you. Oh, I abhor you from the core of my existence. I pray with every damned fibre of my being that you don’t exist and never would have; that you would have gone on with your guitar-twanging, oblivion-inducing voice without me. I was doing perfect then; I wasn’t missing you, you didn’t come in my crazily real dreams the days I managed to triumph over all the tiny reminders you carry in my daily living. I crave to ask you why you could not leave me alone. You said it was over. I was good, the ex who didn’t nag, who shut down her existence, didn’t bug you with fake, sunny conversations, acting like we were just friends. I didn’t bother you a teensy bit. So, devil, when it’s over, why do you return, never with regret and honesty, but again with tantalizing intimacy? It’s so pathetic and ridiculous; how you manage to me make me feel guilty, like I was the one who did wrong by not calling you even though you said it was over. In your book, it’s the bleeding heart which has obligations, not the knife.
I’d thought there’d be a day when we’d know we’re so alike. I can feel myself in your lies, laughter, living. I could feel your shield; it made me all glad and hopeful. Silly me, I thought we’d make another shield, this time both of us against the cruel world, together with our lies and music, together alone. I know. Silly, silly me.
The end is inconsequential; my life began with you. For the first time, with you, I wanted to be perfect. I looked at myself so critically, and I saw the collage of my flaws and my mistakes, my stupid stupid uncommon sense. I did things on whim, like calling you devil. I asked you whether you minded it and you said no, you didn’t, you kinda liked it. I loved that but the kinda bothered me. I didn’t want you to be ambiguous; that’s my job.
Irrelevance, randomness, ambiguity. Oh, that’s us. In one string of conversation, we’d talk about me topping in English, Enrique Iglesias, the school fete, dancing, moms, CD drive repair and times changing. When I told you, times change, you said times always change. It was another one of our light-hearted poignancy. Seriously, we both are so absurd when we talk; we’re inane and most of what we ever said was claptrap. We talked about everything but when it comes down to it, nothing.
We are together without knowing why.
We speak for hours and hours without talking.
We depart without saying our goodbyes.
And we are rubbed back together again.
Unsaid things. Add add add.
The dream lasted seven months. The getting over you has taken a year and I think I’m still cheating. My friends tell me it doesn’t show that I’m someone who has loved a lost love for a year; I’m glad. They think I never tried, that I don’t want to get over you. I do. You’re toxic and dangerous and imperfect and my proof of abstract, the personification of the phrase ‘the convoluted workings of the human mind’. We were together for seven perfect months. Like I’d taken a glorious bite of the red, red apple. You were my euphoria, my illness, my drug, my four-leafed clover, my black electric guitar.
I've always been fully qualified ‘nuts’. People who know me well call me ‘crazy’; of course insanity isn’t a flaw. Is it? I spend most of my time talking to people on the phone; there was a time I would blare the music and get to my books or read when I was home–alone, which I am, a lot. Now, my hand itches until I get to the phone and I make a million calls – best friends, friends, teachers, cousins. I talk for hours but at night, I still feel restless and discontent. Because the dilemma is, I'm used to the phone being my universe. I talked to you every single time I could, the calls slowly changing from making me incredibly self-conscious to being natural. I've a thirst for that satisfaction now; I crave for your voice on the phone, crave for those minutes in which I feel alive in every particle of my being. I know I can’t get that from anyone else. So I'm nuts, I call and call and call and talk and talk and talk and then curse and curse and curse and then cry and cry and cry.
You make me cry and laugh and the first time I wanted to ‘tear my hair out’ was because of you and the first time I wanted to ‘sing and dance for no reason’, the reason was you. I loathed that I was vulnerable with you. You just had to ask the right questions and you’d have me utterly more than anyone ever did. You made me wary because you were so good I was just afraid of losing you. You never knew that I literally dissected your sentence structures and anything you said that was more senseless to me than the rest of the senseless stuff, I called up my friend who was also a Sagittarius, just like you, and she’d be the interpreter of the devil. She’d ask me to tell exactly what you said and then exactly what I said and we’d talk for hours and I’d feel better. I was getting used to feeling the most overwhelmed in the entire day the times when I hung up the phone – bad or good, of course, you’d know much better.
Every second, I’m reminded again of how you’ve amalgamated yourself with my living.
I was a pop-music person when we started talking. I laugh when I think back. Now, there’s no music I don’t listen to. You love metal, rock, country, punk, hip hop. Of course, I had to listen to them if you did; it was logic, common sense. Then, if you talked about Nirvana, I’d be able to say, yeah, I love them too, and I’d be able to ask you your favourite Nirvana song and we could debate about that. That’s my heaven.
Is there any music you don’t listen to? That’s what people ask me now. Now I’m a pop-metal-punk-country-rock-indie-alternative-blues-soul-progressive-anything-else person. You made me that. Thank you. You broadened my horizons. And of course, we could talk about Nirvana and Green Day and I knew what Killswitch Engaged and Slipknot was about. That was a major forward step. You told me I’m cool. And you smiled at me when I saw you in school; those secretive, in-our-own-cocoon-smiles which made my heart stop. Our music was our own little secret. In solid, face-to-face reality, you were still the very thin music guy surrounded by the soccer players and drummer guys.
Then there are noodles, Horlicks, buttons off a winter coat, scary movies, LimeWire, rainy days, kebabs, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Valentine’s Day, eleven thirty in the morning, basketball, skinny guys, dark guys, wearing spectacles for the ‘sake’ of it, cargo jeans, postpaid prepaid cellphones, doctors, white houses with many floors, my watch, drugs, smoking, video games, soccer, staircases, keyboards, cold water, online people, excessively abbreviated English, cinema theatres, Independence Day, dolphins, dogs, Keats, thesis papers, scratches, sweetheart, missed calls, When You Say Nothing At All, guitar riffs, hanging up, parent invasions, Russians, winter, subtleties, uhuh, chocolate, refrigerators, come clean, school trips, monuments, marble, slow internet, dim light, chemistry, vaccinations, fever, Goths, black, angels. The whole world exists as a token that I loved you, and then, lost you.
I’ll tell you honestly, I don’t mind any of them. The fact that drinking cold water transports me into a romantic reverie is something I’ve come to terms with. It’s just the music, devil. It kills me to be without it and every song on my shuffled playlist is an obvious unsaid reminder. No, gosh, it doesn’t damn hurt. That’s the dilemma. That’s why I swear. Because after a year of hopes dashed and hopes renewed and the drug returning to the only-too-eager addict, I have got over you and I wish I could go back and curse you because now that I am beyond you, I can see what this whole journey is about. It’s simple.
It’s like a drug. With you, the beginning, was the high, the joy.
Without you, there was pain, excruciating pain. Rehab.
And now, beyond you, there’s numbness. I don’t feel anything.
I can play It Ends Tonight and Lips of An Angel and Better Than Me and be oblivious; just like you can’t tug at the same guitar strings forever without both making your fingers bleed and the strings useless, you can’t tear and shred the heart strings apart for long too. You get tired of it, of hoping and believing and your heart gives up too. I can look back and replay all the perfect moments and the single hour within which I took the whirlwind decision of erasing you – deleting you from every bit of reality, every contact list, every site, everything. I clicked ‘Yes’ on all the ‘Are-you-sure?’ prompts which were propped along the way. I admit I didn’t delete the one document with all our chats but I can read it completely detached now, scanning it for plot ideas for the story I’m writing, the purpose for which I saved them. It’s hilarious, you know, when I was copying them all into one document, sequentially, there came a time when an error came. It said there were too many errors and mistakes in the text for the software to continue displaying them and that, in case I wanted to view them, I’d have to do it manually. Ironical? True. It was not news though. Sigh, as if I need a word processor to tell me about ‘errors and mistakes’.
I think I'm going good. I don’t run after Gibran and Voltaire quotes on love and pain, don’t look for powerful poetry and hunt for new music like a maniac. I'm forsaking my belief that goodbyes are sometimes just a second chance. I need to learn to be less abstract, not to think so much about things. A goodbye means somebody’s leaving and Gibran is just a great writer. The fact that even in a shuffled playlist, there’s some mysterious power that makes our dedicated songs play one after the other, doesn’t make me think about fate and ‘signs’ anymore. Calls from unknown numbers don’t mean you called me; cellphones are a menace these days. There must be a perfectly rational justification for the conundrum, you and I. Que sera sera.
There was some hope over the numbness beyond you. My best friend’s ex, yes, the same best friend who loved your voice, her ex, his voice ‘kinda’ made me skip a beat too. The kinda bothers me but then, he isn’t an ambiguous person, quite the contrary. Of course, he just told me a week after I skipped a beat to tell my best friend that he was moving back into the area where she lives and to tell her that he was tired of pretending to be her best friend and that he was back to being a boy with a crush on her. I laughed so badly and I promised him I’d tell her that. Oh God, no, it does not hurt me even a tiny prick.
Honestly, I’m too occupied thinking about exams and Oxford and best friends and whether I should get purple streaks in my hair at the end of the year or red. It’s fun being the universal guys’ best buddy; one of my only-friend-guy-friends told me the other day he wished girls were like me and now I’m also wondering whether he was implying I’m not a girl which is, again, comical so I laughed it off and told him you bet. I’ve been enjoying cyberspace too and it’s a productive activity to take a lot of FaceBook quizzes which let me know important life-changing stuff about things like which colour is my aura, which converse shoe am I, who my inner self is, what sort of car suits my personality, which movie is my life based on and which addictive substance I am.
I’m Ecstasy by the way.
Not that I mind though.
Personally, I don’t think much of drugs and other addictive substances, you know.