She was dusky in complexion. And in her eyes, there was the spirit of dusk. A resigned silence to the beauty of a receding day. A colorful world whose impermanence had made her find comfort in the darkness of the night that followed.
She was wary of the day- of its enchanting colors and sounds that had the potential to fade away without warning.
Her demeanour cleverly concealed her vulnerability. One would easily mistake her for a strong, self-reliant soul who cared little about what the world thought of her. At work, people branded her as rebellious just because she was a single woman with a head on her shoulders. She took her work seriously, and she was good at it. This was reason enough to offend her peers. They pretended to get along and even sympathize with her, but she knew just as well that it was all a farce. And so, she became more defensive. It becomes necessary to don a mask of defense when society secludes you. Society scans for a weak point in you in order to deliver a blow, and so, you have to conceal all your weaknesses and feign strength, even if it means rebellion.
But if you could see through the mask, you would see the bleeding, soft core of her persona- still in a state of shock and denial. An year had passed, but it still took a lot of effort to get by. The suicidal impulse had passed. But the future seemed to hold no promise- it was all dark and empty. The only companions were the memories. Somehow, it was easier to hold on to them and get by, rather than move on.
There was no moving on.
The only consolation were books. Somehow, they seemed to add value to the perceptions and to this sense of loss.
Many a time, she would ask herself- Is it really possible for a person to do this? Then what was the truth in their relationship that had seen nearly 8 years of blissful togetherness? What was the truth in love? How could one trust anybody at all? A man had taken from her all her love, only to discard it eventually, robbing her of her ability to love another soul.
But then, to whom does one complain about the unfairness of life? When did life ever promise you that it would be fair?
Nived was a name that had become a part of her. Theirs was a love that had its roots in the early years of adolescence, when love and life were governed purely by the intensity of emotions. Somehow, the love had matured beyond infatuation and evolved into a deep friendship. Perhaps it was because of common interests. Perhaps it was because at that age, their love was uncorrupted by the currents of life. But the truth was that they had become inseparable. It was impossible for her to think of her own self in isolation from Nived. He had always been around…almost like her shadow.
They had always walked together….dreamt together.
Today, she walked alone, unsure of her steps, unsure of herself. She found it impossible to dream without him by her side. She looked at the birthday pictures he had posted- his wife by his side, the two of them smiling happily. It made her sadder for it contrasted with the picture of her own life. She remained frozen in the past, a million questions swarming in her head, unspoken. Too shocked to react. Too shocked to comprehend.
Too shocked to even cry.
It was a miracle she was even alive. But for what? For whom? The past had transformed into an illusion. The present into numbness. And the future an endless desert.
But she lived.
She lived in a beautiful house that was the outcome of the collective effort of both their minds. They had both been drawn to the aesthetics of the locality- a quiet lane with fields in the neighbourhood, a temple and an old pond with stone steps leading to it. They had spent countless moments discussing the design of the house- agreeing, disagreeing and arguing. In the end, it was a beauty. The living room had a high ceiling, and stepping into it seemed to set the mind free. The patio looked on to the fields. A hot cup of tea, mild rays of the evening sun cutting across the fields, the slender grass dancing to the gentle breeze….one couldn’t ask for more. They had shopped for all the furniture and home decors together.
The house was rejuvenating. But it was designed for a happy couple. Every part of the house reminded her of him. But she lived.
She lived, paying the mortgage every month.
She lived, sometimes wanting to run away from the suffocation of this place.
This place that reminded her of his proximity. This place that constantly judged her. People who wanted to know her story only so they could judge her. She lived, wishing she could get away and perhaps go back abroad. She lived, looking for jobs that could help her clear her loans faster. She lived, hoping to fill her soul with the joy of books and travel, the intensity of which could perhaps drown her pain. She lived, taking trips to the hospital all alone when ailments bothered her. She lived, watching new leaves unfurl on the mango tree he had planted for her.
She lived quietly in her world- inconspicuously, with all the richness of her melancholy.
She was long gone, but she lived….