|~ Bukowski (who else?!). From my latest favourite tumblr.|
They loved each other. A little too much if you ask me. But you wouldn’t know it if you saw them. They always sat a little apart, the way new lovers do, the kind who have yet to touch, yet to learn how intoxicating a lover’s body can be. I have no patience for people who don’t explore. Bodies of course. They never really even spoke to each other when around other people. Oh she chattered of course, saying the right things at the right time. But not to him, if you know what I mean. He’d often frown at her words, staring into the distance or the immediate, whichever caught his fancy, sometimes switching off to listen to the turmoil in his mind. He rarely looked at her which is why I wondered whether they were in love at all. I mean, she often glanced his way. Perhaps she thought he would smile back. At times it made me pity her. Come to think of it, I’d never seen them smile at each other. They’d sit there prim and proper and I’d wonder at their love. Oh but don’t get me wrong. In spite of outward appearances, they loved. Their silent divergences were mere facades, clever routines they acted out to fool onlookers into believing theirs was a story less than ordinary. Mundane on the verge of being tedious. But I was a seasoned observer, a connoisseur of the human charade. And I saw through their masquerade. Oh how they loved. Their souls reeked of it. So proud were they of their experience of love that they didn’t expect mere mortals to comprehend it. As if their version was a superior cryptogram of love, that they alone had managed to decipher. And so, basking in the glory of it, they carefully kept it away from greedy eyes, lest it should get tainted by that most feared species: an unworthy spectator.
Her, I’d known since long. She’d come over unannounced, and plop right next to you. She’d have thrown off her shoes, wiggled her way into the cushions and then once satisfied she’d found the most comfortable spot, ask in an utterly serious voice, “Did you see the moon last night?” Who asked a person like me a question like that? She did and of course it didn’t sound queer. Then she’d stretch in that way. I guess you could call it abandon. You know, the way people do when they are alone. One day she announced, “Enough of this talk of falling in love. I’d like to just liquefy into love.” Oh the things she said. In the afternoons, she’d always be slightly sleepy, she said she liked the feeling of approaching somnolence, it had the promise of undreamt dreams. Then she’d be her malleable best, purring out her responses, oozing lethargy in a particularly feline manner. She was also the most easily excitable person I knew. Once she called me and breathlessly said, “I just got these shoes and they are smiling.” She hung up before I could question such an impossibility. But she had that irritating habit of hiding things. From me, from him, for godssake, from herself. She could get quite stupid in that sense. And if you looked carefully, behind the gaiety, the flippant banter, there was an intangible barrier she fought to hide. It was when I saw him, I knew he had accomplished the unattainable. He’d found a way through.
Him, I’d heard of much later. She never mentioned people she really cared about in her multi-coloured conversations. So it was only much later that she gently whispered his name to me. Carefully, as if fearful of powdering butterfly wings, superstitious of dampening the perfection of her story. You know, he was the cloud to her silver lining, but I could see why that was what she liked about him. She was tired of people reaffirming her life. He alone questioned it, uncovering layers to her Self she didn’t know existed, making her uncomfortable enough to grow. Most of his face was hidden by a bush of beard. Too much hair for my taste, but then she had a thing for beards. And glasses. He went around with this halo of profound tragedy that he thought became him. She said not even a poet wore pain so beautifully. In the early days, I’d once called them over for drinks. He was silent, nursing, of all things, a glass of tea! She, however, drank too much, her words stilted with the embarrassment of watching her lover’s discomfort, making her as ugly as a beautiful girl can get. I was the passive observer, uncomfortable in my own house. As I walked them to the door, I pulled him aside, “Take care of her.” He looked at me as if I was too stupid to talk to and replied, “Love is quite mediocre without pain.” I looked at him, with a grudge lodged in my gut, the fucker had given her that. The Happiness of Pain. The Pain of Happiness?
Two years ago I heard he’d moved on. Don’t you detest the term? Moved on. As if relationships were houses one changed, love relegated to the rung of real estate. He’d had enough I heard. Of deceiving himself that he could be her man. His love had always waxed and waned, as capricious as his other muse, the moon. He had raged a constant battle against his insufficiencies and her pitiful attempts at reproach, till he’d snapped. In the end, it was his strengths, disguised as uncertainties that had allowed him to walk away. Overshadowed by her languid loveliness, her terrifying resolve to love him, he, the one who (he thought) deserved it the least, and whom she showered it upon the most, waltzed out of her life.
Today, as I was writing out a postcard to her, no one loved colourful paper like she did, I heard she had snapped. No wonder I am talking this loopy today. Mixing up memories with perceptions. Biases with weaknesses. She went and drowned herself. Oh how she feared water. I wonder if she thought of him as she gasped. I know she did. She would’ve cried into the water as she drowned in it. She liked that kind of melodrama. And he would have appreciated the irony. Her journals, each one of them splattered with her spirited stories, belonged to him now. That would be his gift and his curse. I told you, they loved each other too much.
[Phew! This was the fastest piece of anything I've ever written. It just tumbled out of me some months ago, and I found myself tapping out my first phone-story.]