‘Entangled in your arms
Hands and legs everywhere and around
Deep breathing and peaceful smiles
Oh can’t I get another cuddle?’
“What are you doing?” Your stepmother’s angry alter ego yells, disrupting your sanguine thoughts.
You must have forgotten to do yet another chore.
Or it was quite possible that your very existence was to be blamed; nothing else could explain the atmosphere at home.
You do not know when living at home became such a task. You realise it had always been this way, and had just forgotten to be bothered by it a while.
Any other time you would have bolted out of the chair, propped up the textbooks, and hidden the diary someplace untouchable by other human hands.
Today you know it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter anymore; in the cage you are perched in you have found a weird sense of freedom.
She storms in and you find an odd sense of relief in looking right into her eyes. Hers is brimming with untenable anger; yours must have held something she doesn’t quite like, for she keeps yelling, a dozen more every minute.
“I was jotting down a journal entry” you say.
It’s in the mid of her preaching, sudden and out of nowhere. Neither of you’ll know what would happen next. You do not, as a general practise ever cut into her talks.
She has a belan in her hands; her anger implies you could be hit by it. You don’t really care if you get hurt, but you wait nevertheless.
She walks out and bangs the door shut.
You must be out of sad things to conjure up, or maybe you are still in shock, but you don’t go after her and apologize. Your head says, ‘What for?’
You do not even cry. You stare at the wall a while, and then continue writing, and then lapse into the world of memories.
Your mind thinks of the near past but a rigid wall doesn’t let you through.
Instead you seem to be transported to a time of bubbling laughter and cheer.
Ironically, in this memory, you are exactly where you want to be at the moment; in his arms.
It is just another day abuzz with college activities, a hard day. There were too many lectures and tests and politics and thoughts; you have a headache. You get out of class thinking how humid it is, and how heavy and incoherent your head feels.
A text message lights up on your phone: ‘Meet me in the __’.
Suddenly, you smile till your face aches more than your head. When it comes to him, you have zilch control over your happiness. The day doesn’t look so bad now, just another day.
You reach him and collapse; the one place where you don’t have a filter over your thoughts, words or actions.
You both laugh, a lot. Mirth and rapport have always been in your stars.
Then you talk and hit each other; the works.
It’s time to head back home, but these ten minutes were so magical, you feel like a brand new person.
Before you know it, you are transported back to the present.
The tears roll down freely now, and you continue staring at the wall in front.
You hear your father come back from work. You hear her complain about your lack of discipline et all, as always. He is bound to get angry; as always. You don’t quake at the thought of upsetting the non-existent equilibrium at home, you don’t rush out of your room to set things right. Are you stronger? What change compels you to act differently? The usual norm is to say sorry for everything and live a robotic existence, trying to keep anything from breaking; though the only thing to be kept safe was broken long ago even before your parents divorced. They hadn’t thought it a big deal to make it known to you that you were unplanned and unwanted. So really, breaking is not a new concept to you.
The tears mock your thought of strength.
You silently walk up to the door, and bolt it shut, smoothly.
You power up the laptop and surf through his photos, the photos that you took together all the years in college. There are so many, and thus for a while, you forget.
You forget that you will never be able to cuddle up again.
You forget that you will never have your best friend to keep you safe from life’s small blows.
You forget that you don’t have that place in his chest to drop your heavy head after a bad day.
You forget that never again will that voice soothe away the pain of being at home.
The voice that told you it wasn’t your fault that your parents didn’t love you, that your stepmother is a heartless devil.
You forget that never again will you feel his hands; the hands that didn’t mind holding yours.
The one person who didn’t get embarrassed and angry in telling the whole world that he loved you.
Back then you used to ask people, ‘How on earth do you believe there’s a god?’
Then you met him and fell in love with this God who was suddenly so good to you.
Happiness does that to you, makes you adjust to everything in life.
You shut the laptop shut and wipe the tears.
‘How on earth do people believe there is a god?’ you write into your diary.
You feel lucky you can do what you are about to without much feeling. You feel happy that there was only one person who loved you as much as you loved, so you won’t be hurting anyone.That your choice is yours to make, entirely. You feel happy that apart from a few ‘Tsk Tsk’ and sermons about cowardice, no ado about nothing.
You stand on the chair and remember how his car was crushed by a lorry.
You put your head through the dupatta loop.
As you kick the chair away, you will yourself to oblivion.
You are scared his face when he was rushed to the hospital – gruesome and wounded and foreign – will pop up into your head.
Before it goes blank however, you see his face – happy and chirpy and bouncy.
11th March 2015
Other short stories can be found at https://chatterboxerr.wordpress.com/short-stories/