Tag Archives: vignette

Love, unrequited

There is something beautiful in getting to know a person. To spend solitary moments with him/her in the wee hours of a morning, sitting in the balcony of a high-rise, watching the stars watch over the Earth and her inhabitants, fast asleep. There is something beautiful in munching on the past, a past that possibly has no bearing to the upcoming future, or perhaps, has everything to do with it.

There is something beautiful in sharing simple moments, without the expensiveness of food or extravagance of a well-arranged party. There is something beautiful in just discussing the past, looking at digital copies of a faded past – a past that is sepia in our memories, but still as colorful in their digital versions.

There is something beautiful in well-balanced silence. Silence that comes in between conversations, naturally, not because all that could be said has been exhausted, but because they add subtext to what has been told – in deep understanding and acceptance.

There is a lot of pain in hopes that will possibly never be fulfilled. I wish I could say there was something beautiful in love that is unrequited, something beautiful in the pain, something beautiful in the missing. But what is possibly beautiful in a flower that’s nipped in the bud? A promise of a beautiful future, a future that will never be.

Give me a solid promise. Give me a solid future. For once, give me something that I can hold onto, something as solid as the comfort of a hug in a restless night, something that calms me to sleep after weeks of insomnia.

Love, unrequited.

‘Us’ does not exist

I have seen them in the traffic jam, in the lines of waiting crowd, when she sat back on his bike and caressed the dog peering outside the window of the car next to them.

I have seen them in front of the museum; him holding the kid in his arms, her trying to find something desperately from the cheap green faux leather bag. Perhaps, she was fishing for the blue handkerchief to rub the snot below the baby’s nostrils, or the bubble gum to keep it silent.

I have seen them in shopping malls, sitting together with big cups of coffees on small white table, flanked by matching white chairs. She had a brown leather sling bag and long leather boots. He looked chic in a pair of blue jeans and white shirt.

I have seen them in buses, in the metro, in the pool cab that I take to save money that needs to be paid towards the bills.

I have seen the love, the care that flows between a man and a woman. The care that one finds in little day-to-day things. The way the girl on the bike holds onto her boyfriend in black leather jacket in one hand and in the way she caresses the dog with the other. I have seen the attraction in the eyes which reflects the coffee table. New love is always fire.

The married couple in the front of the museum can be just about anyone, with a kid early in their marriage because he did not believe in planning and she had no choice.

Perhaps, they had fought on the way to the museum. Her bickering about the nagging kid, him tired of her tantrums. Perhaps, the boy on the bike is going to drop the girl off for good and ride his own separate direction. Maybe, the couple on the coffee date will no longer meet for the next one, because she speaks a little too much and he turns out to be a snob.

But, in the moment that I see them, in the moment my heart skips a beat at the sight of people doing ‘couple’ things, I miss you.

I miss you on my way to work, when a random stranger walks by wearing the same perfume that you wear. I miss you when I re-record songs in a broken voice and send to all the people who do not matter, but stop before sending to you, because I no longer can.

I miss you in them. I miss us in them.

Us does not exist.

You and I do.

In separate cities, in separate worlds evolving around us.

(c) 2017 Arpita Pramanick

The rains that wash away

The night was dark and grey. The city lights illuminated it, but the luminosity could not reach the depth of the darkness that lay in her heart. She was walking in the rain, the pitter-patter rain that smelled of late monsoon and a ton of irritation.

She was not angry about getting wet. Even though she hated that her feet was soiled with the water from drainage system.

Her heart throbbed faster because she was lost.

She had just gotten out of her office, a steel-grey structure that was impartial to all emotions. Her umbrella was in her hand. Like her, hundreds of other people left the building at the same time, with their deodorant soaked sweaty bodies, each destined to their own destinations.

Her hostel was two kilometres away. She crossed the billboard of a smiling television actor, with a skin so smooth that she ended up feeling her own skin for the acne. She expected the familiarity of the paan shop right after the billboard. Only, today it wasn’t there.

The road was still filled with mindless traffic, whistles blowing and curses being yelled. The dirty water came rushing at her feet, her trousers.

Her eyes widened and blurred as she saw the unfamiliar buildings around her: a grey-yellow two-story house, a small tin-roofed hut. Where were the tall apartment buildings that lined the road to her flat?

The sound of the rain increased as she crossed a dank pond filled with water hyacinth. She had never known any pond in this direction.

Her hands trembled as she looked at her phone. It read the date correctly. She had not teleported into another century, another city. She searched her contacts for a number. A face popped up on her screen. Quickly, she rubbed out the face from her screen and dialed her mother’s number. The phone rang two times before her mother picked.

“You reached home?” her mother said, amid the buzz of some curry cooking on the oven.

“Yes, I’m walking back.” Her voice was heavy with emotion. Her eyelids were drooping with the heaviness of tears.

“I’ll call you when I reach,” she said, quickly, before her mother could ask more questions. She could not do this anymore.

She had walked into a park. There was a lone cement bench, glistening with rain water, illuminated by a yellow lamp overhead. There was a darkness above it that came from the trees. She walked up to the bench and sat over there. Her umbrella fell from her hand. The bottom of her dress got wet. The tears came pounding from her chest and knocked the breath out of her.

Lost, so lost.

Some years ago, there was a bench like this, in another city, in another park. A man and a woman ate roasted peanuts from a single paper bag. Her head was on his shoulder. It was all water under the bridge now.

She clutched her stomach to stop the pain. The liquid in her belly swarmed up, up, up and came gushing from her mouth. It tasted like rotten worms and failure.

She was too tired to think. So she lied down on the bench. The rain kept falling. The vomit washed away. She waited for the heaviness on her heart to abate.

In a different corner of the park, life went on, as a snake gobbled a frog and passers-by crossed them, without knowing that one less life breathed in this universe.

(c) 2017 Arpita Pramanick

 

Farewell, my love – A Vignette

They sat across the table, sipping their last cup of coffee in the softly lit coffee shop. A crass English song played loudly just above them. For the third time, he said to the waiter, “Can you please turn down the volume?”

“Yes. Right away, sir.”

The sound level decreasd. He looked at her. She glanced back. Behind her glasses the skin below her eyes shone. A teardrop waited at the corner of her eyes.

“Guess this is it then. The last time.”

“Yes. Last time, until we meet again, that is.” He stirred the coffee with the spoon. After all these months, the day had finally arrived. Tonight at eleven, he’d catch a train to a new city. Day after tomorrow, he’d start his new job there. She’d still be here, pursuing her bachelor’s in botany.

He toyed with the wristwatch on her hand. She put her palm in his. He felt the same warmth in their contact that he had always felt.

She opened her mouth to say something, but her voice choked.

The wall-clock showed it was eight p.m. He had a bus to catch – he lived in a different part of the city. She saw him eyeing the time on her watch.

“Let’s go, then.” She ran her fingers through her hair and pursed her lips and took her purse from the table.
“I’ll be a minute,” he said as he walked to the washroom.

She stared around her. People were sitting around other tables. A girl with her boyfriend. A married couple. A man working on his laptop. Three married women. She had seen most of them every day she came here with him.

Tomorrow, all these people will still come here. Only, not me.

The coffee shop was their secret hideout. None of their families knew about their relationship yet. “After I get the job and you’ve completed college, we’ll speak to them”, he had said. She didn’t disagree. He was barely starting his career. There was time. But for all this to end, no more seeing each other, merely texting and calling and skyping – suddenly everything seemed too restrictive, too cruel. It’d probably be six months before he’d get a long holiday to come home. Six months before they’d hold hands again. Six months till they’d watch a movie together. Six months before she’d look at him in the eyes as he toyed with her hands. Could she do it?

“Let’s go,” he said. His wiped his face with the kerchief. Always, always he washed his face in the washroom before leaving the coffee house. Always, he came out of the shop rubbing his face with the same blue kerchief.

He clasped her hands as they waited to cross the road.

For the final time, they walked on the deserted street. Though both of them could catch a bus or cab home from the coffee shop, they preferred to walk towards her place. Never to her home, though. They’d separate near an alley that led to her street. It was a thirty minutes’ walk from the coffee shop. Then he’d catch his bus. He’d pass the coffee shop again, ten minutes later, watching it through the window of the bus.

“Nothing will change between us, right?”

“Not a thing,” he said and pressed her hand.

“I know,” she said. She knew it was true. “But it won’t be the same again.”

“It won’t,” he said, “but we’ll be here again in six months. And we’ll walk like this, hand in hand. And that is all that I will dream about for the next months. That is enough for me.”

“Yes, it is enough. For you. Not me.” She said.

His mouth found hers as her tears fell. Their hands were clasped in firm embrace.

© 2015 Arpita Pramanick