“You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends,
And how, how rare and strange it is, to find
In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,
(For indeed I do not love it … you knew? you are not blind!
How keen you are!)
To find a friend who has these qualities,
Who has, and gives
Those qualities upon which friendship lives.
How much it means that I say this to you—
Without these friendships—life, what cauchemar!”
It is beautiful to be single, to be alone, to love no one but yourself (not even life) and those people who love you for all that you are (at least they pretend that they do). When your friends are your allies, and so you go on with life. One day melts into the next; all memories are seamless – without drama, with no passion; where you read things that interest you but the reading never touches you; where you dress because it pleases you; where you can see your nakedness in the mirror, cup your breasts and not wonder, ‘will this please him?’
Being alone. What freedom. What joy. When you have accepted and are proud. When you write for expression and not for catharsis against angst. When you do not weigh and compare your life with anyone else’s. When there is nothing to compare. When you have no need to prove. Anything to anyone.
O Consort, would that you had stayed silent,
Had not dared to disturb the universe,
Had not said it, had not said ‘please’.
Would that I had never asked, ‘What is it?’
But now here we are, growing old, growing old
Having nothing of any worth to be told.
This is what I wanted to avoid.
This becoming of the Wasteland.
This life of sterility and indifference.
My first boyfriend always says that I do not invest wisely in relationships. Ergo, I dated him and the ball-less creature that followed him. The Consort is becoming increasingly sure that my taste in men is quite pathetic. Ergo, I have him in life. Last week in the midst of all my launch euphoria and the high of the first workshop, I was also grappling with what seemed like an end to the relationship between the Consort and me.
C’est la vie.
At least my life.
One day of pure bliss?
Please? What will it take for me to have it?
To have those few moments of being completely happy?
Absurdly at peace? A day without thoughts?
A day without, yes dammit, Eliot?
To enjoy what others have, seemingly effortlessly, –
A lightness of being?
We decided we must break up. But the thing is breaking up is never easy. How do you suddenly stop placing someone else first in your life? How do you start going back to being alone, even when you know that you may not always be lonely? How do you suddenly live with the truth that you are no longer together – an item, a couple – allied against your friends, the world?
Most importantly, just because you have broken up, the love doesn’t dry up; the concern doesn’t fade, does it? And what about all the time you spent together? What happens to all those endless discussions where you managed to fall in love with life again? How can you resolve to make it just a memory, time stolen from life? Can you ever reconcile to the fact that really, in the end, it doesn’t matter at all?
When you don’t have something anymore is when you idealise what you had – the laughter, the way you wiped each other’s tears, eased each other’s fears, how you were entertained amidst a traffic jam, how you knew what every expression on the person’s face meant even without looking. How can you ever be free when you have once been so irrevocably bound?
And – ah always and ever there are these conjunctions – so we go on
Connecting scraps that we might find,
Stitching and unstitching and re-stitching the fabric of time,
Talking about Allah, and communism, and B-grade Bollywood movies
Because c’est la vie, what?
O darling, must you really take yourself so fucking seriously?
Do you always have to be a bloody tragic queen?
A veritable Meena Kumari of the silver screen?
But I am me. And there is drama. There is the unbearable wrongness of being. Ever since, I have been furious with myself. I cannot forgive myself for being so weak, so sentimental, so careless, and so incredibly foolish, and falling in love again, for having made myself so vulnerable again. The irony is that he doesn’t think that I am vulnerable; he sees me as an intellectual, he thinks I am strong, quite the iron lady here. If he did see me as vulnerable maybe there would be more hope than what we have now. Maybe there would be more love. But he doesn’t. I am as weak and pathetic as a woman in trauma can be. Is there a more intense trauma than love not going right? And he doesn’t ever see it. That is the irony.
There are many such unspeakable ironies in our lives together. So we laugh at it, at ourselves, at the mess our lives are because we love each other, as we are increasingly becoming aware that we might never have a life together, at least not in the way we conceived of it at the start of the relationship.
When you learn that mere love is never enough, what is one to do? When you understand that some women can never really be loved; and some men can never really love, what do you do? When you know that the form your loving takes is not accepted by the world, what can you do? Except write for catharsis against angst? So we both write. Sitting in different rooms, we write, and idly wonder about our promise to each other. We’ve promised each other that we will try. We will not break up.
After the event
He wept. He promised “a new start.”
I made no comment. What should I resent?’
I drank my whiskey neat
And let my tears fall to the ground.
I wept for all I had lost
And all that I stood to gain.
If only we would not be hollow,
If only we believe in each other,
If only we live every moment as a fresh beginning,
If only we become certain that life is only keeping on.
If we only set our lands in order,
One painful change at a time.
If only you learnt to compliment –
Sometimes the same thing twice.
If only I learnt not to expect a compliment
Or believe it to be my right.
If we were kind or at least patient
Then we’d be fine.
Then we’d have begun.
Then we’d be together –
And in the end,
It would matter.
There would still be meaning.
This prose and poetry
Would be a form.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.