A Crush

He stood on the balcony. The twinkly lights draped on the railing of the balcony threw light on his face. He stood, lost in his thoughts. One hand in his pocket. His beautiful digits of his other hand lightly wrapped around the green beer bottle. He took a sip as he watched the city sleep under the yellow street lights.

Light drizzle. He runs his beautiful digits through his hair. Hair tousled.

At that moment, exactly that moment she felt the wind knocked out of her chest. Swollen heart. Unbearable, undefined emotions.

That was it.

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Paranoia

A walk after dinner. The streets, strongly lit by neon and colourful lights, was beginning to slowly fill in with strangers. Her mind reeled. Thoughts raced past the reality: Strangers. Proximity breaches. Small bumps. Accidental touches. Loud noise. Disgusted looks over her appearance. Eyes over her flaws. Space, lack of space.

STOP!

One quick heartbeat. “Was it because of the climb?” she wondered.

Then there was the second heartbeat. Followed by third. Succession of rapid thuds. Hands on her chest, she tried to hold it back. Rubbing her fists in small circles over her heart, silently asking the red thing to slow down.

Breathe!

He looked at her.  “Are you ok?” he asked.

Silence. A nod.

They kept walking towards the brightly lit street.

The easy, comfortable silence between them let her mind wander. Her thoughts raced again: His disappointment when she says no. The decline of interest. The need to search for interesting communication for the lack of hers. Questions. Multiple questions. “Why is he with me? Would he rather spend time with someone else? Would he rather talk to strangers than watch me struggle vibrate my vocal chords?” Lack of knowledge. Lack of interest in common topics. Ignorance in politics. Ignorance in music. Ignorance in movies. Ignorance. Lowering self-esteem. Feeling ordinary. Wondering if he is there next to her out of obligation of friendship. Repeated nos. Repeated denials to him to do that one thing he wants to do together. Unable to fit in, again. Frustration. Questioning the very existing thread of friendship. “Why friends with me?”

STOP!

BREATHE!

Eyes closed. Fear gnawed at her hesitant heart.  She agreed to do it with him. She walked next to him in the middle of the street.

Mouth sealed. Words dead in her throat before they materialized. Discomfort ignored. Her sense and soul as empty as the emotions of the city.

Wild mess of paranoia threatened to burst out of the vein in her head.

Deep breathes. Control. Pause.

She walked on next to him, as he looked into his phone.

For acceptance.

For love.

Over The Edge

They were thick friends. Almost inseparable. Even the distance couldn’t keep them apart. They made memories, every single day, even if it was over the phone. They were that sticky, close, inseparable friends.

One day, unknown to her knowledge, he was pushed at the edge of the cliff. He stood there, silently, feeling the gravity pull on to his center. He closed his eyes, feeling the breeze gently push him closer to the edge. He swayed, but he had held on to his balance.

She was his last piece of silky silver thread that he could hold on to and pull himself out of the abyss, if he happened to tip over.

So, his mother sent him away to her. Maybe spending a week with her would help him clear his head, his mother thought. She sent him away to be her, with huge hope nursing in her heart. She wanted her son back. Badly.

Next day, there he was at the airport, reluctantly embracing her in a lose hug. She was disappointed with the lack of his usual enthusiasm. She shrugged it off and pulled him in a cab to take him home.

She tried to get him to talk. But he now preferred long silences.

She wanted to help, but she didn’t know what that worm was that was slowly digging into his brain. She only knew he wanted to talk but couldn’t find the right words.

Her patience was running thin.

She was only 24. She didn’t understand the mighty darkness that he was enveloped into. She prided herself into being practical. She prided herself into believing that everything about her was in the proper place.

She didn’t understand his inability to get out of bed or go for the long walks that they once enjoyed doing together.

He had crawled tighter in his shell. Lost to her, forever.

She failed. The guilt was beginning to build in her. It stayed inside. Suppressed. Closed.

She assumed the air of being practical and fair. He needed to hear the truth. He needed to be shaken out of his numbing tune. But he was gone. Lost in his music. And she pretended to move on as the silence between then grew. It ate into her. Her eyes had grown old.

Time passed into months.

She believed it was love. The idea of love was enticing. She was pulled into it. Dragged to make a decision. A rash one that too. She was encouraged to take it. She was also warned against it. Mostly, she was warned about the reckless risk she was jumping in. It was impulsive. She did it anyway. She thought, “Fuck this shit. I don’t want to look back in regret.”

But she did. She had lost.

It didn’t matter who looked down on her. It mattered when her mother like figure looked down on her. She wasn’t angry. She didn’t reprimand. She just was disappointed.

Hell broke loose.

She was pushed in silence. Her eyes closed. Her mind closed. A wall was built around.

A plea for help was denied.

The pile of guilt and shame kept getting bigger.

She could no longer pretend. There was lengthy silence. Panic attacks in the middle of the road. A mind that was slipping away in darkness.

In midst of this, there was a failed marriage. Battle of ego and pride. Sanctity of relationship was lost. Belief was shattered. Ideology was broken. Her last source of comfort had slipped from her hand.

Panic attacks got worse.

She went down to see him. She had lost him. He was there near her, but not with her. It felt like her heart was socked hard.

Guilt.

Went back to routine.

She was living with constant panic attacks. They owned her.

A doctor treated her without meeting her. Thrusted 12 small pills in her hands. Advised her to take one every night. It will help you sleep, he said. It will help you breathe easy, he said. But it would only numb her muscles and her senses.

Things felt bleak. She didn’t know where she was anymore. Where her mind was wandering, she didn’t know. She grew fragile. Fragile enough to let a stranger’s taunt get to her.

She found herself standing in front of her own abyss. But there was a friend, who had touched her shoulder, and unwitting asked her to stay back. It was a faint, muffled sound. But she heard it and took a step back.

She had reached out to her phone, thinking of giving him a call. She typed his name and then locked her phone. She couldn’t give him a call. Someone, whom she could reach out to at any time of the day or night. She needed to speak but the words were stuck in her belly.

Her mind was losing its strength to hold on.

Panic attacks came with added wandering thoughts. Scary thoughts. Thoughts that gave her ideas. Made her believe in disillusion. Pushed her. She was close to touching insanity.

She was tipped over the edge.

She stood over the end of the abyss ready to make her final lunge.

But before that, she had to speak with him. She had to reach out to him. She had heard he was doing well now.

She plucked her courage and spoke to him. She spoke about how vain she was. She spoke about how she had failed with him. She spoke how the pressure had buckled her down. She spoke about her guilt of not being able to help him. Of all the guilt that had eaten her away. The unspoken love. Trying to me up for the lost time. It had only taken her 3 years.

She felt lighter after speaking with him. With every tear flowing down her cheeks, she felt her chest getting lighter. The pile of guilt seemed to slowly disappear.

It felt like she was getting her business in place before the deed was done. With this thought, she went to bed.

A rested sleep after a long while.

The next morning, it was worth being alive.

The Time I Survived

Yesterday, I felt my end was near.

There was a sharp, shooting pain that took birth from my ear till my chest. Numbing my face, making it difficult to speak. 

Fear rose in my chest, leaving the tiny red beast within the confines of my rib cage in a tizzy. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Yet, I could feel it. My end was near. 

There was a serene acceptance. Almost embracing the fate that seemed sealed within the confines of my mind.  

I wondered if you would remember me. I wondered if you will look at my typed out words, resting in your phone and feel loved. I wondered, if my words would help you feel cherished. I wondered if you could finally feel me next to you.

The day sailed by, without any physical incident to the little red beast. It was still beating. By night, it slept restlessly. 

Then there was dawn. 

I had survived.

But my words still hung on in your phone with a silent hope in my being that those words would still have an effect on you, which I cannot define.

About a Long Affair

As soon as the bus halts at my stop, I find myself rushing to cross the road. Forgetting my fear of crossing roads. Rushing like a mad woman to climb the three tiny steps and stand next to this jolly man with his hair parted in the centre. Just this. The man with the magical stall of wonder. My Pani Puri walla.

He nods his greeting and silently thrusts a small bowl made out of dried leaves in my hand. He puts on his gloves, takes a puri from the stacked heap, cracks it open, fills it with masala aloo, dips it in the spicy tangy paani and places it gently on my bowl. 

The first Puri, when it touches my tongue and cracks open in my mouth, the flavours explode! Melting away all the frustration and stress of the day. I feel comforted. Sometimes, this spicy beauty soothes my soul better than the saccharin words of my dearest friend.

The flavour brings out the vivid colours of the darkening night skies, and as it starts refreshing my soul I can finally hear things around me. Till then it’s just my Pani Puri walla filling my bowl with my beloved street food, comforting me silently, without understanding the chaos in my mind. 

By the end of maybe ‘one plate’ or even two, I don’t even feel guilty about my indulgence. 

Rather, I feel happy. Content. Comforted.

Always!

That Sweet Lullaby

The mother held her baby in her arms as she rocked her gently. She sang that sweet lullaby in her soothing, gentle voice. Her dream of wanting to be a singer was fulfilled. She had an eager audience. Her daughter calmed down. Her breathing became regular. Her eyes heavy, until it was unbearable to keep them open anymore. She was finally asleep. But the mother continued to sing. Repeating the verses, enjoying the lyrics as she imagined dedicating each words to her daughter. Singing her emotions to her. Till the song slowly faded on her lips. Her eyes rested with the trailing verses. 

The day came to an end. Another battle won. All that mattered was her baby daughter in her arms.

Is Everything Fine?

He had seen it. It was supposed to be an unmentionable incident. Yet, he reached out to her and asked her, “Is everything fine?” 

She ignored his question, doubting his concerns. Avoided him at all cost. But his persistence to know couldn’t match her will to stay aloof and she broke her silence and said a feeble, “Yes, thank​ you for asking.” It only took her three days to look him in the eye with the answer on her lips. Even if a white lie, which he knew, he seemed to let her easy.

Maybe, he really did care. Maybe he just wanted to know the story. Her mind raced again, overthinking on full swing. This and the incident. Taking control over her and her mind. Her heart raced. That familiar unease. The familiar irrational fear gripped her.

She reached out for that tiny pill in her bag and popped it in her mouth. Waiting for the med to kick in. She closed her eyes as it slowly took over and eased the anxiety that had gripped her soul. Unaware that he was still watching her.

His voice steady he asked, “Promise me you’ll not take too many? Promise you’ll never abuse it?”

Startled, she opened her eyes. 

Calm. She assured him and realised he really did care. Warmth seeped in her heart. The effect complete. Sealing the trust in the growing friendship.

Everything was certainly fine.