In so many ways it was a special time. I hate to be clichéd and talk about doors closing and windows opening but that was exactly what was happening. Of course, I didn’t know it then.
Everyone knows that when you’ve been sincerely involved, a break-up shatters you. More so, when you’ve begun to trust the other person.
When it finally happened face-to-face there was the expected heaviness weighing me down. There really was no ground beneath my feet. But I had promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I wouldn’t seem weak. But I knew myself well enough to know it wasn’t an evening I could handle on my own. So mid-break-up-conversation I messaged him to come and get me saying it didn’t look good. He came. No questions asked. On time.
I was falling. I was flying. When someone pushes you off a cliff into the sea, you can either drown or develop wings and fly. My instincts and something in me always makes me want to fly. So there I was flying without thought, without pills (that came later). And he was with me. I took him home with me. It was an adventure. I’d never had a male friend spend the night at home. But desperate times. It’s curious how talking about that time fills my head with clichés to this day.
He said we should visit him, the other one. I agreed immediately. I would have agreed to anything. I was singing as I rode the bike. At his house, after the pecks on cheeks, I chattered incessantly, brightly. I was incandescent. I was so brittle. How did he still fall in love with me? That was the second window opening. I drank. Not much. Just one civilised drink and when we were riding back home we were full of plans and music and my shaky, breathless laughter.
I didn’t sleep. I wondered that night, just that night how it would be if I could shag him. He was one of the most good-looking boys I knew. I was lazy and really not interested. Idle thoughts that didn’t last more than two seconds. A desperate attempt to reassure myself that there could be life beyond the heartache I was fighting, that I could do wild things, that I could be uncaring and have stormy emotions and not pay a price. He slept. I pretended to. I listened to songs. Sometime after the middle of the night I must have slept.
When I woke up, I woke up crying. He was there. I never stopped crying. For years. Nearly two. Definitely one. Certainly that entire week. And he was always there. Even when I fought. Even when he got angry. Even when later we didn’t speak.
It rained endlessly all that day. That entire week. Irritatingly tiny droplets of rain as if even nature didn’t have the balls to be truthful, to be real. He decided we must have lunch outside. In a really posh restaurant. Darling, we must celebrate. Bought me my favourite dish, watched me crumble and break as I tried to fork chicken into my mouth. He didn’t attempt to console. What consolation could there be for lies? Instead he spoke. Beautiful dreams. Places. Europe. Things of beauty. Innovation. Weeping, I listened. He paid the outrageously expensive bill for a meal I couldn’t even finish and certainly didn’t taste without batting an eye.
We were both broke. I’d spent more than half my salary on pills, tests, consultations with numerous doctors to get my PCOD under control. I didn’t want our relationship to suffer because of my mood swings.
Thinking about that I cried again. And he just made plans for the next few days. Meet her for coffee, him for dinner, movie on this day. Did I want cigarettes?
My fingers shook as I tried to hold the cigarette. The shivers began then in earnest. Standing in the drizzle in Indiranagar, holding a cigarette I couldn’t begin to smoke, I started to shiver feverishly. And he held me so tight like there was no letting go.
He never did.
And the other? He gave me perspectives. Showed me a newer, truer way of thinking, of being. Over toast and nutella and terrible coffee. And fruits.
I was always fed. Most times by hand because I am so lazy some days I don’t want to eat unless someone feeds me. I was always heard. My slightest wish – a holiday to Goa or Pondy, a night out, an evening in a pub, a foot massage, exotic drinks, a pick-up and drop home when I finally got arthritic – I didn’t even have to ask for it. I was always indulged. And so the trust was built. Then there was laughter and such overwhelming, overflowing love. Not because I needed them, I did, but because they were so irresistible. I fell in love, helplessly. The world didn’t matter. The people never did.
Do you want to burn his house down, Bhumi? We’ll do it together.
He’s such a pathetic bastard, da. I unfriended him. I have no respect for him. There is no need to be friends with him.
Darling, if you want, I will drive you to his house. I don’t think you should go. But hey, you are old enough, no? But Bhumi, darling, I don’t want to meet him. I don’t even want to say hello.
When he was proven right and when I had become a disastrous wreck again, he held my hand through the entire drive back home. Only letting go of my hand when I said I wanted to drive. I wanted to have a wild, passionate affair with him on the rebound. I told him as much. We laughed. He said too bad, no? And I drove. Because shaky, brittle I wanted adventure. I had a death wish. I would have killed us both but not once did he betray any anger, any irritation, or any fear. Only a lopsided smile and then a chuckle when I finally stopped the Innova.
We never know what song will take us so irresistibly back to a place and time long forgotten. How clear the yesterdays become when the right song plays. Tamil songs, that my friend Praveen had shared with me from a movie called Vaarnam Aayiram were the songs for that time.
That time when I wanted to watch a Tamil movie in the theatre because I was in love with the songs. That time where he cancelled the movie date at the last moment, a movie date he kept and just held me as I cried through the entire movie.
Sitting alone, trying to sleep after a really fun evening complete with a drive, excellent food, and tons of laughter, when the song suddenly played on my ipod, I had to write. I didn’t know I remembered. I was sure I had forgotten. But songs have this way of bringing yesterdays back. There were others too, of course. My women, other lovers. They were there too – listening, loving, holding, entertaining, giving. But suffering from PMS, I missed my men so much that I had to write about them.
Old songs from yesterday that are so lovely; they don’t hurt anymore. Now they are just like, does he really say what he does in the beginning of the song? Hahahahaha. So corny. And oh the beginning strains are so like George Michael’s Faith, so like Queer as Folk, no?
Some memories break us. Some memories make us. Remembering, I can only look haughty and feel like a Queen. Proud and walking tall. With the head held high, red on my nails and lips, hair wanton and wild, chin up, chest out, and doing the butt jut.
And so life is always absolutely fabulous. More so because of yesterday.
* Mundhinam means yesterday in Tamil.