The Come Back – Chapter 16
by Anita Menon
Ash tried hard to concentrate on the magazine open in front of her in her room. But Jai’s mesmerizing smile kept knocking her off her focus-path. She got up to open the drawer of the table next to her bed. Her leather-bound diary was still there. On an impulse she picked it up and leafed through few of her older entries. Most of them were poems born from her deep anguish and despair. A feeling of being trapped and writing these feelings down, helped her come up for some air. Why did she feel the way she did? Papa was always supportive of whatever she wanted to do, but there was this impulse to flee. Flee from everything that wanted to bind her; from the strict curriculum to the smothering affection of her over protective father, friends who strung expectations with everything, overbearing younger sister who pretended to be a know-it-all and possessive boyfriends. All her relationships failed without exception because of her temptation to escape.
She had friends at school, but only the ones who understood when to leave her alone. Those were the ones, who stuck with her through thick and thin. She didn’t need to utter a single word of explanation to them. Her sister and father, did not understand her at all. Why didn’t they get that she lived in a separate world from theirs? It was a world filled with sketches of her tattoos, poetry, darkness and then intense, unbearable light. Her moods were clearly reflected in her poetry and that is the reason why she never showed it to anybody. But today, she felt she needed to write and get something out. But it wasn’t dark and unhappy. Her diary may have withdrawal symptoms, if she wrote this, she chuckled. She shuffled her bag for a pen and found one lurking in one of its pockets. She bent down and wrote with a force that had been in shackles for years and words poured out,
I used to dream in black and white and shades of grey in between.
but then You happened to my life.
now I dream in colours.
I have no place to go now except sit on the floor lit by scattered rays of light.
You are the source of light.
and now i can see.
I always prayed for the waves of this city to wash me away to anywhere but here.
but You rode on a wave and came to me.
now You are my rock.
I used to think that I had it all figured out and could put it all in words.
but You showed me how to unlearn words.
now I can put stories in empty spaces.
ever so often I would lose the point and purpose of my mundane existence here.
but You told me what I meant to this world.
now You are my world.
Between all my quirks and oddities and vices, I wondered what my biggest failure was.
now You have taught me to look at the bright side.
and now You are my biggest attainment.
Kept falling into a mental abyss of nebulous miasma, spiralling rapidly to being burnt away to ashes.
But You came along and saved me.
Now I am drenched in Your love.
She felt drained by the outpour of an emotion that she hadn’t experienced before. She had boyfriends before more for company than anything else. They felt easy to relate to her because she wasn’t like other women, vicious, demanding and jealous. She let them be because she wanted the same for herself. She packed her bags the moment she came upon any evidence to support that commitment was in the offing. She walked out without guilt or sadness. But Jai was different because he understood naturally her need for that distance but for the first time, she didn’t want that distance herself. He seemed to have gauged her perfectly and expectations were set on their own. Most importantly, he transported her to a happy place, a place she hadn’t visited in a long time. She cut the thought there as it would only make her cry. Only a few things made her cry and in hindsight crying felt funny. But now she never cried unless physically hurt but playing with tattoo needles had solved that problem forever too.
Jai left today to join his semester and she sensed darkness inside. Every day they met at different coffee shops, sharing a cigarette, leafing through coffee table books together and sitting in perfectly comfortable silence. When the time came for them to say good-bye they hugged each other and she felt a peace pervading through her every pore. He promised to come and meet her whenever he could and she only nodded. Would this be the beginning of the end of their relationship, she wondered. Distance does funny things to people but only time would tell. She was in no rush but couldn’t help missing his presence. Her thoughts were interrupted by soft foot steps climbing the staircase. Anna must be back from their Papa’s room so now she could go and see him. Sitting with him and speaking in silence gave her immense joy for some reason. For once in their life, she felt, he had begun to understand her. He did not scoff at her choice of occupation, the way she dressed or the way she didn’t feel the need to respond to everything he asked. She noticed that he was constantly thinking about something and kept looking back and forth towards her with searching eyes.
Anna had refused to even look at her since the time she had seen her with Jai. She didn’t feel a pressing need to change that since it had been like that for a long time. But she did make a promise to herself in the lieu of Papa’s ill heath that she would do something to improve her relationship with Anna. She reached Papa’s room engrossed in these thoughts and was just behind the door when she overheard a conversation he was making over the phone. She hesitated and waited for him to finish. She seemed to hear the name “Maya” a number of times. Automatically her fingers curled into a fist and she felt a wave of nauseating anger build up inside her. She barged in with an intended ferocity that had built up on the mention of that name. Prof. Reed had just replaced the receiver of the phone and was taken aback by the sudden intrusion.
“Papa, with whom were you speaking on the phone?” , she inquired with a restrain but beads of sweat formed on her brow and her fists still curled in tension.
(I have used the poem ” You” from my brother, Vinay’s blog – http://vinaykrishnanmenon.blogspot.com/)