Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In circles

I really do hope there's no trouble. I tried to convince myself.
There's always trouble! He tried to convince no one in particular.

Chapter 1

She was sitting in front of me. I know she wanted to cry but she didn’t. She was trying to restrain herself from going on a confession rampage – but she didn’t really know how to stop. I had stopped listening three minutes in to her monologue.
He had rushed into my head – curses, fights, an occasional hug, rarer smiles flooded my brains.
I heard her words, but he was also talking to me. Words jumbled up and I had no where to go. I don’t remember anymore.
I don’t remember the first the day we'd met either. It was a long time ago – almost twelve years. I remember us being introduced, becoming friends, stealing glances, disagreeing, holding hands – the first time we’d kissed.
But there is so much more I don't remember. I wanted so desperately to cling on to the old sheets of memories, but there was none.
She wouldn’t shut up. She went on talking till it was time for me to leave. I hadn’t even had a shower. Darn, the girl would be waiting for me. I hate being late.
Then she left. She also left a letter in my hand. I’d read it after I got back I told myself.
Maybe it’s the age, but I have been forgetting things. That letter remained in my drawer for the next few weeks to come.
The next time I heard from her, she was getting married – to the man who wrote me that letter that still remained sealed in my drawer.

Chapter 2

I had to see him. I know it would result in nothing – but that crunching feeling wouldn’t go away. I had to see him.
There wasn’t much money left – so the train was the only option. When I reached, the house was covered with flowers. Tall garlands hung from the roof to the ground floor; it looked like a garden. The ugly stench of marigold invaded my nostrils as I walked up to the doo0r and rang the bell.
His sister – I hadn’t seen her in years. She’d changed; with a young boy by her side she opened the door. I don't think she can deal with shock very well because she stood before me for a definite five minutes before opening her mouth.
He took sometime to come down – dressed like a true Bengali groom, I was a bit amused, seeing him like that – standing with the pleats of his dhoti in his hand.
But I didn’t know what to say.
I didn’t read that letter, I told him. But I want to know how he knew.
She told me your name, he said. There aren’t too many people by your name around.
Where are you staying? He asked next. At home, I told him.
I had lied. I didn’t have enough money to go anywhere else. I’d have to go back to the railway station and spend the night there. My train back was in the morning itself.
I want you to be happy, I lied. At that precise moment I put a curse on him and marked it with a circle so there would be no escape.
But I couldn’t say anything else. I turned back and left. I didn’t even say goodbye.
I stood at the corner of his lane for a long time, wondering where to catch the bus from. I could call my mother and ask for her to pick me up, but the family hadn’t spoken to me in years.
And right now, I didn’t have much time. Memorising the images on my cards, I stood at the bus stop – it had begun to rain.

Chapter 3

My rooms needed a coat of paint. My job was not really going anywhere and I was sinking into an abyss that I could see but do nothing about. He was going to be here soon – I needed to clean up a bit of the mess on my table.
My phone rang. It was him. They were in London. He’d stolen my number from her telephone book. I was flattered. They were going to Egypt and then to a few more countries for a month; honeymoon for a month. I had none.
I was jealous but I wished him well, drawing a darker circle around the curse.
My door bell rang.
It was him.
I was with him for an hour. He wasn’t particularly open and that made things more interesting.
He stayed on – drank some coffee with me. He left, promising to keep in touch. They never did.

Chapter 4

I met my ex husband accidentally in a pub. He was with friends. I was alone. Not the best way to run into each other. He was smiling at a rather pretty girl next to him. Then he turned and spotted me. He was polite enough to come up and ask about me – he was always so well behaved.
I was already three drinks down and to be honest, it did take a while to register that face. Then I remembered how penniless I was and he was treating his friends to drinks.
He uttered a few more words and went back to his seat and that pretty girl. I continued looking at him for a while.
I drew another dark circle.

Chapter 5

My sister was getting married – one of her friends confirmed that was guised as a question on one of those networking sites.
I was supposed to be happy. Maybe I should have called her and congratulated her. But I didn’t know where to call and I didn’t know what ‘happy’ meant.
So I just swallowed - a lot of tears that almost choked me. My salary had come in for the month; surely I could afford a trip back home. So I packed a bag with a few decent clothes that wouldn’t give away my ‘fuck it all’ self, mustered a lot of courage and decided to fly this time. The last train journey had screwed my digestive system for a while.
The door was the same Prussian blue – brighter this time. I rang the bell and a strange feminine face opened the door.
My mother and the rest of the family were out – shopping. Could I come in? I asked. But she didn’t know me so I sat on the stairs till I heard my sister’s voice twirling up the staircase.
My mother didn’t say a word. She kept looking at me for a while. I avoided her gaze.
Come in, she said. I declined the tempting offer. I was practicing resistance you see.
I opened my bag and took out a little box and gave it to my little sister.
It’s not much, I tried to justify. But I had gotten it made and I couldn’t afford anything more.
Don’t be silly didi, my sister said, sounding all grown up. She opened the box and saw the ring inside it. It was silver, had a little star on it – the Star of David.
I always thought I was Jewish at heart.
That was the last time I saw my family. I missed the wedding that I wasn’t invited to. My sister married her boyfriend I’d never met. My father never asked where I was.
And as I flew back a long tiring flight, I realised what the word ‘single’ really meant.
It meant that there is a lot of space around you and people may or may not want to occupy it. It meant that you’re free to do as you please and no one would ask. Ever.
That night, after I'd reached home, I drew a deep dark circle around myself. And then, I uttered a curse.

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