That is Past

She may have spent years in the game but had never really been able to figure out what men made of her. Did she come off as exciting or interesting? On a scale of one to ten, how hot was she? Was she a tease or a prude? Or did her honesty make her seem…over-friendly? Oh fuck it, the right word was desperate. Was it evident?

Her constant search for validation led her nowhere, romantically. She was tired. Tired of waiting for romance to “happen”. Tired of conversations that led to nothing. Tired of holding a stranger’s hand late into the night and feeling a surge of emptiness inside. Maybe she wasn’t cut out for the chase. She was a little lonely, yes. But she would shrug her shoulders and focus on the “important” things. Like how her cat had eyes like two green pools. Like the smell that wafts from old books in the library. Like how, when the old man who sells her groceries laughs, he looked a lot like a sparrow. She ponders over questions of history and puts all her energies into being a good friend, a good person; even if she isn’t entirely sure what it means.

She hates herself for having read too many novels and for having watched too many movies. The fact that everyone around her seems to be falling in and out of love didn’t help. That didn’t help. It just didn’t.

Sometimes, she looks back on her past and thinks about the men who had loved her. She was grateful to them because…how often does it happen? Love? Not that it ever lasted, but for as long as it did, she was grateful.

Despite herself, she wonders if she should have changed and tried to be more like the woman he wanted her to be. Maybe she could have been more accommodating, less eccentric…

Life isn’t over yet, she reminds herself.

“Que sera sera.”, she hums while pouring out coffee into a cup.

Whatever happens, happens.

 xxx

It has been a decade since he last saw her. He sips his tea and waits for the waiter to bring his order.

He looks through her Facebook pictures on his phone. She has grown older, like us all, but her smile is still the same. Unmistakably sunny. He smiles as he remembers how she would complain about it being toothy.

The relationship is vivid in his memory, like it was yesterday. He liked to describe it as “All heat, no warmth.” to his wife. But he knew he was lying. The fights and the sex had definitely been fiery but it wasn’t as though there had been no warmth between them. Lots of it, in fact. They’d had their moments of peace, of silent understanding.

He goes back to staring at her picture and despite himself, wonders what life would have been like if it had lasted. Waking up beside her every morning. Drinking his cups of evening tea with her. Her insistent kisses that always lingered for a second longer…

He shrugs his shoulders, reminds himself that he loves his wife and he is a happy man with nothing to complain about.

Yet, on days like this, he would grudgingly admit to himself that there was some unfinished business left between them.

“Snap out of it”, he mutters under his breath.

Perhaps, perhaps.

 

-Zehra Kazmi,
2-B, English,
Lady Shri Ram College

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