A Saying

One day, you uttered my name. And then, I became.

Before, I was the breath you had been waiting to let go. I was an illusion, a pattern in the flow.

I was floating around until that time. I passed through buildings and cities and nations and bodies. I flickered through ideas, never here and never there. Sometimes someone uttered the right mantra and I got to materialize, briefly. At times molecules aligned to give me shape, at times the stars did. A poet wrote me once in a faded, nicotine-stained letter that was later burned in a revolutionary fire. I kept having a non-corporeal existence through the centuries. Until you came around.

We locked eyes across the floor at that salsa class. You were looking for something, a change, you said. And had time to pass. I echoed your sentiment. It was all I that I knew to do, reflect you. I was a complement to the compliment that you were to the universe. I had been born anew, forgetting my immortal past.

That day, it was raining, so we caught coffee in a cafe. I was wholly infatuated with you, of course, because that was the only part of my consciousness that worked. You talked. I listened. You said, you had been stuck in a rut. I was feeling exotic insects in my gut. You wanted a complete reshaping of your life. I wondered why. You were perfect, in every way, I thought. We exchanged numbers, and I provided you with a name for myself. That solidified me quite a lot. Now, I had to have a life outside of you, if only to wait for your call.

You did not call for two days, and I lost quite a bit of myself in that time frame, back to nothingness. I felt rushed and rolled around in the ebbs of spacetime, and laws of physical motion, and intricacies of biochemistry, and conventions of social existence. I wasn’t exactly a Being, rather, I was just being.

Then the smartphone, that I wasn’t aware I had, jerked wildly and fell off the table. The screen cracked, as I cracked a smile upon hearing your voice.

We met. And talked. Oh, we talked. With every back-and-forth of messages, I got a little more articulate, a little more nuanced. One day you were arguing about some issue, and I discovered my capacity to reason. You were crying once, and I discovered empathy. After a gossip session one time, I found my penchant for harmless evils. You asked me what I did, and I started career as a graduate student studying molecular biochemistry. Then I met your friends.

I liked them, because they had a big hand in making you who you were. I hated them, because they were not me and they got to spend time with you. Then I learned to assimilate them, and your friends became our friends. You were overjoyed. But for the first time, I felt you latch onto my person, as if you were saying to your clique: ‘this is mine.’ You couldn’t have known how true that statement was. My whole essence was tied to yours.

One rainy evening, you were feeling lonely and solipsistic. You reached out to me for company. I materialized in your doorstep in minutes. We crashed on the couch, in distorted angles, my head somehow finding its way to your lap. You talked about your dreams and desires. I mirrored them, adding little variations here and there. We ‘yes, and’-ed our possible life stories, like table tennis players bouncing off of each other and upping the rhythm with each stroke. Back, and forth. Back, and forth.

Then you stood up, something having seized you in its frenzy. You started once, boldly. You tried again, your words sounding vague and non-committal. The third time, you got your question out, inquiring if we could become a thing. I wanted to shout out that my life could have no greater meaning than being one half of a thing with you. I accepted in a demure tone. We danced then, trying out the salsa moves of our first meeting. It was a carnival of two.

We grew closer. My place vanished, since I had no use for it. I took care of you and you took care of me. We were happy then, right? Every hour I spent with you felt like it could provide ample material for a screenplay. I was getting smarter, too. I could see breakthroughs in protein patterns in the waves your hair made, when the afternoon light streamed through the dusty windows, and you had a faint curve to your lips even while taking a nap. The times I was away from you, I still felt your presence in everything. I could make out your face in the clouds, smell your laugh in the orchids we planted, feel our banter in the jazz that floated through the rooms. Maybe, every man was an island. I was the lagoon that you, my barrier island, prevented from dissolving in the sea.

You had a vacation from work, and wanted to spend all our time together. I agreed. You wanted to try out this new pill supposed to put us in a trance. I was already in the deepest trance, but I made it for you in the uni lab. We bolted the doors and readied music and downed the pills. Two hours later, I felt closer to you than I had ever before. I was melding right into you. Losing myself in you. Finding myself from you. Spacetime kept on twisting and we punctured a hole through the universe itself. I think we broke it then. The universe, I mean. And some god, or higher administrator had to put back the pieces one by one.

Then, something happened. I do not fully understand what was cause and what was effect; cannot separate the virus from the symptoms. A small-time celebrity replied back on a message you had left on his social media. You were jumping in excitement. I tried to share it, but even then I could feel you slipping. I grabbed extra tight, but it was of no use.

Perhaps you grew tired of me. Or rather, needed to grow past me, having exhausted all I was and could be. Our banters took a sour turn and became clashes. My thoughts were mostly red-hot those days. I felt myself contracting, but was too focused on salvaging anything I could. I berated you on pining after some guy that didn’t even know you. You fought back. You stormed off, to cool your head. I sat looking at the door you slammed, in the thick air trying to suffocate me.

We apologized, of course. But something was broken. Irreparably. You suggested our relationship might improve if we saw less of each other. Something about absence and fondness. I acquiesced. Back at my own place, I spent a majority of my time pacing around and staring at my phone. Days and weeks passed, and you developed other interests. You forgot about salsa and your dreams. Our dreams.

One day you called to let me know you were over me. I replied in a sad, but understanding tone. My insides were eating me up, meanwhile. I tried to claw at possibilities, but I could not exist without you. I invited myself to our friend hangouts. But the distance between us was galactic, increasing exponentially.

I lingered as best I could. But remained misunderstood. I wonder: is it better to have a swift crash or a slow, torturous fall? Better to delete you off my contacts, since you won’t even pick up my call? Neruda was wrong, I think. Love was forever, and forgetting is not long, since one forgets that they are going through the process of forgetting.

I’m fading now. My thoughts are degrading anyhow. I can see the parallel lines of the red carpet through my skin. I’ve felt hollow inside for months, felt thin. Soon I’ll be nothing but a saying, waiting to be uttered by someone.

You saw me. For a while, at least, you saw me.

But now, you’ve left me on Seen. Unseen.

This piece came to my mind when I thought to take Tribal Rain’s Bhanai literally.

Written on 11 July 2020