Delicious Ambiguity | the rainbow named trust

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Chapter 7 {virtuosity}

N O T E

I just think that you should know that out of all, in the entire world, you have my favourite face.

Virtuosity – artistry


Zaahid

Maira stomped out of my room, slamming the door shut. My eyes narrow and I press my mouth in a hard line when I realize that Maira would have gone to that room. Knowing her reconnoiter abilities, I knew she wouldn’t miss a thing and will continue to dig the topic until the truth’s out and therefore I dreaded her reaction. Why did you keep it like that, huh? My lucifer peeks out from under the bed and snaps. Was it that hard to let it all go? My subconscious pities me. Not as hard as to hold onto something that wasn’t real. My inner god hisses out, lashing his instasey finger at me. And I can’t even put an argument against that—because it’s true, I was still holding onto something that wasn’t real. I was holding onto an illusion of my own.

I still hear her name floating in the wind. I just no longer try to catch it.

The first thing I noticed on her when I entered the house this morning was the grey sweatshirt hanging from her shoulders. The size of which was a bit too large for her, the arms too long, and “Om” graffiti designed on the chest. My subconscious had gaped at me in stunned silence.

In the moment that elapsed, I realised that the sweatshirt was mine, which I had given to Maira on that cold morning of January 2014. Madame had been so intelligent to believe that the South American temperature of thirty degree Celsius would have followed us to London. We were returning from Brazil—our last tour date of the American leg—to London. She had stepped out from the airplane in a plain tank top, braving the cold winds, until by the time we reached the exit—she was frozen—I had removed one of my sweatshirts I worn and passed onto her. She had worn a face-splitting grin, accepting the sweatshirt readily.

Now, her clinging onto my sweatshirt is the closest I could get to her. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to her. Sorrow grips and squeezes my heart at the thought.

Everything hurts, and no one cares.

I have a tendency to get lost in my thoughts. I open the doors and they flood my mind. There is no escaping them. And if there was, I am not so sure I would want to. I am a product of every moment up until this one, all of the smiles and all the tears. I am fighting so hard to accept all of the pieces that have come together to make me who I am. I am slowly starting to see the beauty within myself and the darkness that I hide from the world. I want to be able to walk with my head completely high, looking the world in the eye and saying, “I have done everything I could to be a better person. A better son, a better partner.” There are still parts of myself I may not be able to do without. But know its true when I say that the pieces I have given away—to her—those are the pieces I have treasured the most.

Lying down on the bed, I thrashed around but just couldn’t find the right position. A protracted daze of light sleep sat somewhere in the back of my psyche yet was too far away to attain, floating amidst a pool of my recollections. A frosty discomfort sat on my chest and I tried taking in deep breaths but the wind caught in my throat and froze. At that moment, I knew this was going to be a long day.

So, I lay there and listened to my heart repeat her name.

Mentally cringing at the fact that I allowed Maira to stay at my place, I smack a pillow on my face. You INVITED her! My subconscious is quick to judge. I did? Please remind me why? I sarcastically question. Oh, because your mum is coming over. He responds irritably, I throw a pillow at him only to realise that he’s a voice in my head, clenching my fists until my knuckles are white I heave out a loud groan.

“Gia SPencer I need a number!” Maira yells from another part of the house and I find my anger is directed. It’s not at something, or at the voice in my head, it’s at her—for spoiling what we had, what we lost and what we could be. Truth is I broke my own heart everytime I begged to be loved.

“Lower your volume!” I shout, placing the pillow, which was on my face, onto the side.

This year I turned twenty nine, and I have being going for therapy for quite a while now. It first began as a prescribed medicine when I first experienced panic attack. Back then, almost a decade ago, people didn’t talk about flustered breakdowns and my psychiatrist just thought of me a solution. She simply wanted to treat the impact and go home to her life but that one incident had terrified me and I couldn’t make sense of anything that was happening to me—so like a robot with a labeled list of instructions, I took the medicines and turned into the body that meandered around like an apparition. Every one of my feelings, fears, and responses were destroyed. I wasn’t just relieved of fits of anxiety but of feeling alive and the numbness echoed within my soul.

But there has been an inner survivor in me ever since and it hated the image in the mirror. The tousled mess of hair, the overgrown beard, the stale breath and the perpetual weakness forced me to lay down on most days. I couldn’t explain what I felt to anybody—to my parents, to my family, to my partner and even to my best friends. I couldn’t fathom the words that I felt like dying every moment that I was awake. I stopped the medicines and turned to therapy that spring—my mother felt it would do me good. I left therapy the month I met Maira. I have been doing it again for the last four years—the only good it is bringing is paying up my specialists’ bills.

The only humans that can understand the impact of this disease are those who experience it.

I seldom have panic attacks now but now I rule over them—I accept my weak and vulnerable self and let it happen. I breathe hard and let things settle. I have started to love this part of myself, too.

Today I am talking about this because of what I realized in one too many highly expensive “sessions.” The day I was to be born, the hospital had no bed and the embical cord had noosed around my neck. The first year of my life, I hadn’t responded to sounds. I have always been an odd, sad child. I always had the feeling that I am not a part of this world. I was born angry—at the world, my family and at life itself. I have loving parents and they took care of me to the best of the capabilities, but somehow it was never enough. I felt alienated and discarded or at least these are the memories I have about my childhood.

I saw the trend here. I saw my stubborn self and my inner survivor fighting for a life that wanted no piece of me. I have had some near death experiences; I think we all have them but when we are young we don’t know death and the concept and we don’t know the danger; but I came back, every single time. Whilst sitting at my sessions I had observed her neatly pressed pants, her black shiny heels, her branded glasses barely on her nose, her stained pouty lips dragging the sessions unnecessarily and a vague thought had crossed me that maybe it has always been me?

It has been my inner strength that has gotten me this far and it will be my inner strength that will take me forth. I just have to keep trying to love myself more—with and without Maira. There’s victory in that—trying.

//

On nights when the night is darker than it really is and I am on the edge of sanity and insanity my shoulders slump from the weight of a lifetime of worries I have accumulated which would only take another to untangle, I wish my hardest on those nights for the darkness to engulf me, hold me out at an arms distance and repeat, “This is the end. This is as bad as it gets. Your suffering ends here.”

I made through my maths final despite my principal challenging on failing me due to, I quote, ‘Islamophobia’ that had been undeniably prevalent in early Birmingham. I stood tall and confident—an odd introvert kid—in a houseful theatre auditions in school and eventually was a part of the greatest show the school ever had. I part timed as a library assistant—despite social anxiety—so that I could afford college, six months later I was in my dream course, in my dream college. I made through a reality show—into a boy band, despite my father not supporting my music. I did not cry when my nana passed away. I held through.

So, see it has always been me who has held my own hand and wiped my own tears. I have hugged myself to sleep when the arms of lovers weren’t strong enough to comfort the hurt in me. I have picked up my own pieces to heal and mend—and I have stayed. Always. I have found ways to start over and be there for myself. Always. My self love journey began with a friend at a time, loving a flaw at a time.

I am having a hard time with starting over, this time. I was betrayed in the worst way possible—with my friends, family and partner. My silence was mistaken for peace. My solitude was considered revolting when all I had been doing was colouring the gaps of who I was and who I saw in the mirror and making them more mine. Someone I thought would have stayed and supported me was the first to disagree with my career choices, whose absence I am still trying to figure out. Someone who loved me unconditionally left the world too soon. Someone I admired and fascinated about and held their heart ever so softly called me a heart-breaker. Some I truly cared for alienated me when my own ambition fogged up my clarity and someone I have come to absolutely love and adore, broke my heart.

For a long time, Maira held the lamp at the end of a tunnel, but on a cold winter morning her icy breath blew out the lamp—in seconds my castle crumpled overnight. I’ve been barely hanging on ever since. No one has heard from me ever since, except for the teaser of my new music I posted on Twitter last night, but I am doing better than I ever was in my boy band days. Maira. One name—a thousand different memories.

I have so many stories buried within me that I have come to believe that I am a conundrum of shadows of people I have learnt to love and let go. When the icy winds of winter carry her name and chant, “you love her, you have always loved her,” I hear the echoes of her laughter. They are especially loud behind the beige coloured couch. I threw away the tan coloured couch with the intention that this will make her disappear—I will let her go but certain stardust of hers always gets left behind. That was her place. Her entire spectrum of emotions would always lead her here—behind the couch. It was like being little again—she could live in that place and always asked passwords for entry of trespassers. Of course that privilege was given only to a potential few—moi.

Every time we used to be in that space together it felt we were teleported to outer space. The worldy problems didn’t matter and neither of us had to be dissatisfied with the universe. And if I topped it up with serving her Hot Chocolate Custom Made for Madam from Noori Kitchenette she would smile like she had just solved world water issues.

Maira was my personal supernova—blindingly luminous and energetic however when it’s in context, I was just another excess matter, that was sufficiently fortunate to run into her core and cause the giant explosion. She would gaze at me with such profound respect as I would speak about my future plans, and grab my hands with such strength that it would ebb away at my doubts of failure. She helped me comprehend myself. She asked the toughest questions and demanded the honest answers. She could see through my bullshit and called me out on it. Uproariously. Frequently. She believed that she quieted my on-edge state with her words, but little did she know that it was her touch that was my undoing.

College taught me a lot of things—the first of it all was to realize that what you want from certain people may be more than they’re able to give. Don’t be naïve. You can’t force loyalty or love.

The day I drove off Maira, on the coldest of December mornings in the history of December mornings, I realized that we were like the sun and moon, never meant to be with each other; but when we did, we made an eclipse. Regardless, I have been ’lovesick’ in her absence—the power this heart holds on me surprises me everyday. I feel so empty, so completely and utterly at a loss without her. My pride begs, no it pleads, for me to deny this but my heart knows it’s true, I’m hurting. The love you so generously gifted will come back to you. My subconscious whispers, all traces of humourgone.

In the last four years I have been trying to answer questions like ‘Will I be something?’ or ‘Am I something?’ I am slowly learning to put myself first. This has been the first quiet thing—soft and certain, a gentle rebellion long overdue. When doubt floods me, the answers are often, ‘you already are,’ ‘you always were’ and ‘you still have time to be.’

I am learning to not be apologetic for thriving and being infinite, for that wasn’t the same Zaahid who broke barriers to come out of a bleak past, that wasn’t the same Zaahid who could move on from his first serious girlfriend in school—a breakup that resulted from being a position lower than the Center Back, that wasn’t the same Zaahid who was crowned the Prom King despite the ongoing petty rumours of high school.

The Zaahid I have come to recognize is giving—he is not Chandler keeping track of statistics and checking the data entries of what I have given and what I have received, for this is no Friends. The Zaahid I see in the mirror with bright and clear eyes, and tear stained cheeks isn’t some twisted vengeful human with ulterior motives. He gives for he knows how it feels to be without—the feel of dismissive eyes, the sound of disapproval in a voice, how treachery and disappointment feel, when someone who could give you the world refuses even a tiny piece of it.

//

Roughly sitting up in the bed, I give up on the idea of sleeping. Maira’s mere presence is enough to keep me grumpy and restless; I don’t need uncomfortable sleeps for that. I haven’t needed that for the last four years. I have so carefully followed her updates from fan accounts that one day if I wouldn’t be a musician I can work as a professional stalker—admiring from afar. I have gauged my words around her, never revealing I always knew where she had been. I had always believed that love had to be flamboyant and loud but when I see us, I can hear the quietness of it.

The space between Maira and I is as obvious as our mistakes.

Maira Ahluwalia: a creatively driven force born with a brave heart, whose sincerity is her vibe; who has a weird flex for hard work and whose fierce self respect is what sets her apart. And it’ll be exactly these things I’d always believe in even when the world is against her. She’s always been the potential Lili to my Cole Sprouse, the Barbara to my Dylan Sprouse, the Halsey to my G-eazy, the Cami to my Charles Melton.

In the early Without Maira period of my life, I had wished for her to miss me, to be badly wasted and cry at the thought of losing me, to be cold and wish for me to taste her dreams and kill all the fears she had coiled in her bones. I know it was cruel but that’s the thing about losing people—you make remarks out of fury. Nonetheless she didn’t. She didn’t miss me, a week after she went on dinners and dates and studio recordings with Harry. No one could really understand the dynamics of that hurt. It stinged because it made me believe that I wasn’t hard to love but easy to forget and when that would happen I had to remind myself that she never loved me either.

Social Media today paints a beautiful canvas for finding a perfect lover, to have a person to kiss, to pamper, to allow them into your life, to give them your heart until the final hour. To go on cute little picnics and extravagant candle light dates, to have that first dance, to spend nights blabbering about your interests and laugh till our stomach hurts. I’m sure it feels great to have your “other half,” and that is exactly what a socially constructed ideal looks like. People aren’t halves. We all are small universes looking for another to collide into. I’m a whole man and I can only offer my whole self to another to grow alongside. I don’t need a partner out of necessity to complete me, but to carry me further.

So my partner can be my best friend. With them I can be my goofy self, obsess over thriller books, talk about Khalid Hosseini’s Sea Prayer, and find new people to crush on ZeeTV or Starplus shows, try the weirdest waffle combinations and after a long walk always order in pizza. With them I wouldn’t have to pretend to be someone. We would always want to know each other—quirk and small small details of our families. With them I can have a heart-to-heart talk and I can confess my deepest darkest desires, secrets and regret. Exactly in that order.

I think the world got it all wrong; it’s not about finding a lover but about finding your person with whom you’re attuned on a much larger level than romance. With them I can binge watch Netflix with a sharp looking wine glass filled with coke, I can tease the hell out of them if I know about their real-life crushes, and I can comment them to brush their teeth and have a bath if they stink. Someone who can make me laugh, fiery mad, and still be my person.

The sound of smashing of glass with a wooden floor rungs in the room and brings me out of my thoughts. I blink rapidly for a minute or two, trying to regain my lost equilibrium. Looking over the edge of the bed, I find a photo-frame, which was earlier seated on the bedside table. I sit up and stare blankly at the grey wall. I am numb. I feel nothing but the pain. How long must I endure this? How long shall I sing our song, which sounds too much like a prayer?

I move out of bed to pick up the broken shards of glass. Finally I turn around the photo frame only to be ambushed with bittersweet memories. The picture was of Maira and Cherry Foxes at the Ultimate Sing Off with the boys and me standing between them. The picture showcased a lot of things, namely, good times, early fame days, crazy boy band days, money, power, and the fact that it was the beginning of my story. Slowly a train of thoughts were forming about the spent years and the truth dawns on me that: we think we miss someone, but it isn’t like that.

We miss the moments we shared together. We miss the things they made us feel. We miss the persona we concocted in our head to fit the missing pieces we were too blind to discover for ourselves. Until little by little, that persona fades away. We start to uncover the real missing pieces of their complex and erratic personality. Sometimes we’d become amazed at the qualities we hadn’t seen. We’d start appreciating them more and more, growing even fonder of them.

Then the days come when we’d scratch the surface deep enough to see their more obscure vices, and we start to question some things. Regardless of their importance, we push these away thinking that we could work through them, or we just ignore them altogether. Until the false image we’d created erodes completely and reveals a stranger. And only when this bubble bursts is when we realise that we’d made a grave mistake to have given so much of ourselves to them.

Will I be able to forgive her? Can I get over her? Do I still love her? I close my eyes and tilt my head back as grief and longing lance through me. Of course I do. My thumb traces the contours of my lower lip while I chew on the insides on my cheek.

//

Glancing at Penelope in the photograph, I smile remembering how last night she gave me a surprise visit at the studio and invited me to her place for dinner. “Hey...I’m sending a car for you, you need to be home.” I had said into the phone, not sparing a moment to exchange pleasantries properly.

“Not your place, my place!” I had replied after listening to her reply. She had sounded wayward and ignorant. I sensed her dismissing me with a wave of her hand while holding onto a glass, judging by the crackling noise of ice against glass.

“...ahaan! You have the keys” I had raised my eyebrows nonchalantly. She had choked on her glass.

“Good,” I had stated with a straight face. She had protested and I heard her heels stomping against her wooden floored house in pure frustration.

“I—” I had begun to speak when I heard a knock on the glass door of the studio.

“Hey?” An all too familiar voice had greeted me when I opened the door. Penelope had leaned in for a hug and I had opened my arms for her. She had quickly offered dinner at her place and in the moment I had at once agreed.

“Umm...listen. I’ll talk to you later I’m a bit busy right now?” I had muttered quickly under Penelope’s speculative gaze. Her eyes had gleamed with adoration like she found her person again after a long separation—retrourvaille. “Oh! And I won’t be able to make it to dinner. Help yourself?” I had quickly added in and was just about to hang up when Maira opened her smart mouth.

“That’s exactly what I mean. Bye.” I had heaved out a deep sigh without listening to what Maira had said and quickly hung up the phone, pulling Penelope into a friendly hug. She had walked me out of the door and we headed to her place.

*

“I left them for two hours and Matthew’s not home either so I don’t know what creature I will now greet!” Penelope had exclaimed as she put the key in the keyhole and turned the handle after we had managed to wade through the sea of media reporters outside her house.

The news reporters ramped up our fear, our tension of ending with some stupid nonsense story about “Zaahid Noori” hanging out with ex-flame “Penelope Evans.” A burst of pictures would be clicked, photoshopped and then the polls on twitter would begin. They would recommend us how to be “happy.” They’d offer us to partner with their restaurant or brand and promote them on our social Medias. Eventually when the holiday season would begin, we’d be gifted the boxed hampers and would have to thank the young and brilliant entrepreneurs. For me, I’d be happy in a new car or secure home but never about going outside.

I had no way to stop the media reports but I knew one thing for sure, they weren’t true, or perhaps true in part but so biased in their presentation or omissions that everyone –who mattered to me, especially Maira—was being lead by the nose to think whatever someone else wanted them—her—to think.

“Sometimes they are dressed as unicorns; sometimes they try to replica the Barbie or sometimes—” Penelope had gushed about her girls. She had stopped in mid sentence and gasped loudly as we saw one four year old and one three year old girl running towards us wildly with pink lipstick smeared across their faces with mascara and liners running down their cheeks. Her elder daughter wrapped around my leg while the other hugged Penelope as she had lowered herself. “—sometimes they replica the witch.” Penelope had said slowly and giggled into her daughter’s neck.

The one that held onto my leg was then clung to my neck and brushed her face in my neck and chest. This will leave stains. I had closed my eyes briefly as my subconscious reported. “Who is wearing a perfume here?” I had asked trying to lower down the girl in my arms. I had hoped that that didn’t linger on me for long for it was the same as Maira’s.

“I am!” Penelope’s elder daughter said with a wide grin, pressing onto the ‘m’ a bit longer than necessary, holding onto my shoulder as I was putting her on the ground.

“Wait is that my new bottle of—” Penelope had quizzed, her head cocking to the side, eyebrows suggestively raised as she looked dumbfounded, astonished even.

“Yes it is...your Coco Chanel,” her younger daughter had avowed and attempted a duck face. “The one you brought in yesterday.”

“You smell so nice!” Her daughter had squeaked in my ear as she had crashed me in a hug while I had lowered myself.

“You do too.” I had laughed. Penelope had moved forward to move in the house when the girls had blocked the path.

The younger one had pouted at us, hands on her hips, and standing in poise. “You will get entry into the house only if you say we’re adorable.”

“Yes, you are darling,” a voice said behind us and we had turned around to meet Matthew Cohen, Penelope’s husband for four years.

//

The dinner was ravishingly fulfilling and extremely delicious. A massive spread which evidently took a lot of effort was laid out. Till this morning I still question how Penelope was so sure of my attendance. Well, because you ALWAYS agree to what Penelope says, remember? My subconscious wakes up from a short nap and I can’t even put an argument against that. It had been the very thing I once tried to rebel against never knowing it’d cost me two friends. My subconscious is shrugging on a coat, giving me you-know-I-am-right looks.

Matthew Cohen: CEO of luxury fashion brand, shareholder of Capital One Management and my ex-boss is married to my ex-girlfriend. This information is not new but it still strikes as one. Capital One Management had led Symphony Thrills ship to success for two years before hoping onto Cherry Foxes’. That Matthew yesterday kept me well engaged with refilled whisky glasses and talks about his international ventures in fashions and how his luxury brand was spreading across the globe. I’m sure I can easily graduate in International Relations from London School of Economics after that kind of class.

I had returned home at five in the morning to Maira sitting on the living room floor, clutching her toe, her eyes closed in total agony. The house harboured a different scent of a sensous vanilla more like a Tom Ford than a Chanel.

“What?” Maira says in disbelief from some another part of the house and distracts me, and I’m dragged back to the here and now.

*

Penelope and I have history together. We dated and broke up in the weirdest of circumstances. None had imagined the downhill journey of our forever but it arrived, a crush late and a day early. If you ask Penelope today, she’ll put her guns on Maira without a single thought. After USO Maira had been living with me in London until she could find a place for herself, and as time slipped away how “Can I help you?” changed to “You fucker! Get your fat ass back onto the stool, Peaches!” I have no idea. She became the friend I was trying to find in Penelope. She became my perfect muse.

Knowing, today, that she’s here in my space when I thought we were over is heart warming. I reach over the bed and open my bedside drawer to notice the hot chocolate packets I had stored for the two of us. Maira till date believes that Noori Kitchenette delivers the best hot chocolate in town, but little did she know that an instant mix packet accompanied with a little rum can do wonders.

My eyes are distant as I relive a memory behind the tan couch. The atmosphere of the room changes from warm with sweet reunion to frigid with unspoken words and potential recriminations. A smile is stuck on my face and it just wouldn’t go. Oh, why is this so uncomfortable?

My eyes fly to the cabinet under the T.V, scanning the CD’s. My gaze falls over Frozen and before I know it, I am up and about foraging my Disney collection. I pull out Frozen from the assemblage and open it, running my fingers along the crease of the CD, momentarily replaying each laugh and tear Maira and I shed while watching it, each and every fight we had when we had to share the last slice of pizza, each and every milkshake I came up with as a part of my “Journey To Master Chef Experimentation” as the movie replayed itself, when a folded piece of paper falls out from under the holder of the CD. I bent low and picked up to see the Vogue magazine photo of Kendall Jenner.

I grin, sickeningly pleased with myself. I, now remember, always bringing Maira up in talks whenever I was around Penelope, and how she would wriggle her nose in disgust. Until I met Maira, I thought Penelope was the one for me, little did I know that Penelope harboured the tag—infatuation—I had put on Maira.

“I was walking down the street the other day and I found this perfect pair of heels...look?” Penelope shows me a photo on her phone while we sat in my room, sipping on coffee.

“These are pretty cool, wait; I think I have seen them before.” I furrow my brows, trying to remember where I had seen the heels.

“Oh, Maira has the same pair. She wore them yesterday when we went out for dinner with the boys.” I smile, gazing up at Penelope. She looks flustered and irritated as if the mention of Maira set off some invisible bomb inside her. I could see her gripping the coffee table tightly. Zaahid, don’t mention Maira, anymore, got it? My subconscious scolds.

“Anyway...you know, yesterday I was going through this fashion magazine and I saw Kendall Jenner do this wonderful pose.” I continued to speak after a long pause, looking at Penelope, expectantly.

“Really, so?” her eyebrows scrunched, her voice stole and corrected the tone I was mutilating. Her legs twitched a little under the table, constantly tapping her right heel with the wooden floors of my room.

“The moment I saw the pose, I knew I had to sketch that with Mai- wit-with-with you.” I close my eyes momentarily, cringing at my mistake.

“Penelope—I—” I start to say, but now, I can’t stop. The more I talk, the more I realise that I’ve brought this upon myself and it’s not helping. I say that negativity feeds on itself.

She gets up from the seat, and looks me straight in the eye, “I’ll talk to you when you’ll recall that you’re engaged to me and not to ‘that girl’, because clearly you don’t understand. Aren’t you mature enough?”And that was all it took for Penelope to get up and leave, smashing my door on her way out.

Things just tumbled down after that, until it blasted off on that December night. Penelope called me a heartbreaker and there’s no way she could have known, that I’d left no hearts more broken than the way I’d left my own. My silence was wet and hot and words had died within me. On a balance scale I was comparing my relationship with Penelope’s overbearing, exhaustive and pompous behaviour with my relationship with Maira’s easy-going attitude. I was too stunned to act and took up the risk of my silence. I was accepting a lot of things—like the girl I was mad about, didn’t love me back; like the girl I admired was calling me a heartbreaker and the woman I swore to stand by was telling me that the one before me was a faux pas.

Before being tagged as my girlfriend, Penelope was also a friend and I lost her that night. We didn’t try to contact each other. Our silence was echoing truths we had been trying to bury. Yes, I missed the laughs we shared, the jokes we cracked, the food we cooked and the songs we sung but too much had gone down to rectify. Only three years back we again found some semblance. I wished her on her birthday, sending a bouquet and a cake and she returned the favour on mine. A year after that we were again regularly going out for coffee(s) and dinner(s), but as friends, of course. Then, suddenly yesterday she was at my studio, inviting me home for dinner, and I took that as another step forward to win over my lost friend.

You might not agree, but it hurts every day, the absence of someone who was once there.

Penelope Evans: a force to be reckoned with. The day I witnessed her haughty conduct was the final night, 19th July, 2013, of Ultimate Sing Off. That day was supposed to be a game changer—my then bandmates and I were ‘judging’ our first reality singing show, we were supposed to go on the second world tour two weeks after that, Penelope, my girlfriend of two years then was about to step on her ladder of success and Delnaz, my eldest sister had hinted a, I quote, “ground breaking,” surprise for me.

“Mama told me not to waste my life; she said spread your wings my little butterfly.” Cherry Foxes had started with Wings by Little Mix after Maira’s turn. A medley of ten songs was going on. Penelope had glared at me as if silently saying, “I see you and you better watch out,” for Maira’s microphone malfunction. I never realized the magnitude of power she had held on me until that moment. She had stood there, assessing my expressing with her intense gaze, waiting for an apology to come her way, and it did. “Your words don’t mean a thing. I’m not listening. They’re just like water off my wings.”

That was the day I started genuinely questioning “us”. I had carefully plucked out pages from our two year history to observe the broken happy ever afters, to analyse the plans that always ended in disasters, about our love and our trust.

Consciously today, I want to avoid relishing the old conversations, because our brains love the rewind button and that is not the direction in which Penelope and I are heading. Not now. Not ever.

I sit on the edge of the bed and take a deep breath, outlining the Plaster of Paris work on my black and white themed room’s roof. Maira’s mint dressed attire sparkles through the curtains, as if I was in the same space just separated by six years. As if I can touch it with an extended hand, but this was no Dark and I wasn’t Jonas Kanhwald travelling though time. Her dress was a world away from Cherry Foxes luxurious uniform dresses courtesy of Matthew, and yet she shone through. See, Maira isn’t some girl from a magazine, heck she is an “honorary” Victoria Secret’s Angel. You know what that means? That means she doesn’t have the petite, anorexic, raw boned or hollow cheeked body requisites, she has a genuinely glowing, ‘flawful’ body of stretch marks that she adores and flaunts. She can’t do her own makeup, she doesn’t fit in her old jeans but she can play five instruments. Professionally she is a Civil Engineer and passionately a Creator.

Look, beauty needs to be redefined. We need to teach our girls and boys that the body their born with isn’t all what they’re worth. Being attractive to someone else is not all that matters; making a difference in the world does. We need to engrave in them the fact that knowing how to play a music instrument or to know how to draw or to just excel in academics or to be good in theatre or to know skateboarding or to be a photographer IS termed pretty. That being in the school’s/ college’s sports team IS considered beautiful. That a “girl” IS NOT supposed to look pretty. That her choosing Aerospace mechanics as a career option, or being a mountaineer or being a mechanic IS considered as “beautiful.” That girls bite back.

“I’m jealous, I’m over zealous. When I’m down, I get real down. When I’m high, I don’t come down.” Maira had opened the next song, Issues by Julia Michaels. Her face had been sad and forlorn. I had stared at her naïve self on stage, stunned, with no thoughts in my head at all—like a computer crash, acknowledging her glory and gore. “You get mad and you break things, feel bad, and try to fix things. But you’re perfect, poorly wired circuit.”

And now, all these years later, I truly believed things would be different. That I wouldn’t have to be ‘sad’ anymore, but it never gets better. I never stopped pouring myself into hands that were incapable to hold me. It truly is a sin to love. Yes.



NOTE

Retrourvaille—the joy of meeting and finding someone again after a long separation or rediscovery.

Everyone who says a hello will one day say goodbye, sometimes without a warning or giving a reason why.

“If one hearts fits in other like a puzzle piece, maybe you could be the missing half of me. I know it’s happened more than one time. I haven’t seen it all but I’ve seen enough, don’t need a million miles to make the road get rough. We all got things we wanna leave behind. ” Song: I’ll be ready written by Harry Styles and sung by Bobby Andonov.

Please drop me a comment or a vote if you think this deserves it and give me a chance to improve. All the love as always, Mahak xx


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