Delicious Ambiguity | the rainbow named trust

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Chapter 13 {Pulchritudinous}

N O T E

We all move forward when we recognise how resilient and striking the women around us are.

Pulchritudinous—beautiful



Zaahid

Maira has unraveled like a beautiful composition of broken. Her softness is her greatest asset and her most profound weakness. I can never forget how after USO late at night when she’d think I’d slept and the house was silent, she’d sit behind the couch in the living room and rock herself chanting, ‘be worthy, love, and love will come’ and in the mornings she’d display the widest and the most brightest smiles. I don’t completely understand her loss but I respect it. What she’s lost is a too high a price to pay.

Every Christmas Party we attend at Annie’s, a silent conversation happens between us. She quietly reminds me of Maira’s attempts, between looks and I promise her to help Maira find the happiness she pretends to have, between servings. That same Maira today is shaking in gloom. I shift closer to her but she launches at me and for a moment I am amazed and in shock, sitting stiffly under her grip. I don’t touch her. My hands are in the air in an I-wasn’t-expecting-this way. Then, I wrap my arms around her waist.

Wafaa and Maira both have this innate fault line that tells them that they can’t be loved with being themselves. They fear being seen, metaphorically. Wafaa feared for so long for being tagged as the absolute nerd when she loves math and economics and wanted to major in them. Now twenty four and high on life, she’s an adhoc professor in the University she passed out from. Maira still fears being seen as weak—the girl with a broken past. Currently as she lets her tears roll, I admire the strength and bravery my Maira is showcasing. It has all been such a process, steps along a path. Her becoming has required equal parts patience and rigor.

Being an Air Commodore’s daughter growing up she had certain benefits like a respectable name, a comfortable house in a nice colony, people following her around keeping her safe, nannies to tame her wild, friends who enjoyed the benefits with her, neighbours who kept to themselves and extended family who always pitied her position but she also didn’t have certain luxuries that made all the difference for her, like the kind where she could party in clubs, enjoy after parties at farewells, get nasty drunk and chill, roam in high heels at expensive malls and wear the sexy tight dresses. She always had a reputation to maintain. Her formative years were make or break so being inadequate or flawed or lacking something just didn’t cut it and a vague integration from head to toe of her sense of self reduced down to a direct correlation between her behaviour and her likability.

Following which she noticed that if she was complying, pleasing and morally correct, she was showered with love and appreciation and she thrived on it. She strived to manipulate herself and create personal challenges which worked for her for years—she was happy and easy-going—but it was lined with a rapidly growing belief that she couldn’t be loved being herself. So growing up was a devastating struggle for it was a toxic mix of trying and wanting and not having more than who she was. She sought to lose her own shadow by being persistently achieving which could camouflage her low self-esteem, her poor self-image and her non-existent self-love.

Having a patchwork of identities, flawless behaviour and the zeal to please people became her second snake skin even before she turned fifteen. She never experienced the lightness of just being for as the years passed her delusional ideas of perfection had proliferated into every aspect of her life—she had to smooth the edges, had to deny her feelings and pretend to be be someone when mixing in wasn’t an option. She had initiated a quiet and damaging war against herself; battling to contour and subjugate aspects of her core that she feared would be objectionable.

Split between who she was and who she thought she should be she ended up being alienated from herself. It led her to believe that no one cared about her—she was just there. When we talked about it, it took so much to make Maira see that her bestfriend who is always busy and doesn’t do texts, texts only her and that is the only conversation she’s had in a week and that still loves her and cares about her.

It took too many trips to Ben’s and Jerry’s to make her realize that the boy in her science class who she thought was a stalker, genuinely loved the music she would listen to and had wished he had the nerve to ask her out; that her English teacher adored her reflections on papers and no, it was never shitty; that they all did care—somebody always does. The school photo albums she hides in her attic are proof that somebody always did—the guy who held out his hands for her at the stone step she always seemed to trip, the ground she’d eat her lunch on, the library table that always had her favourite books. Even our neighbours from across the street—Oliver and Florence—look out for her when she limps to the car, coughing and shivering and stomping to work, that is how they know it’s time for breakfast.

It took too many days, concerts, albums, and Indian cuisine takeaways to convince her that when it seemed like everyone was caught up in their own lives, in their own happiness and like no one noticed—someone always did. Someone always thought about her nice outfit when she trotted around green rooms, or her perfect cat eyeliner when she sneaked in metros, or saw her in their dreams, or her pretty smile when she would be surprised by her talented co-singers or her being charmingly human—spilling her tea, losing her pens, breaking her earphones, bleeding on the guitar—or how they could help her when she fell or wondered what she wrote and who she entwined in her sentences or what moved her, made her draw or how she is so beautifully alive.

Yesterday as Maira’s concert ended she had bounced back to her car and had broken into smile, seeing two toddler twins hanging their necks from the back seats of the car infront of hers. There was a man in the adjacent car to hers on the way to the studio, and I was him, and I think about her and I hope Maira gets more chances to smile like that. And then there is you, reading this, and by some small extension, meeting me, and I am telling you, I care. Somebody always does, I promise.

I promise, you are loved.

Maira cries rawly into my neck. Her body trembling and her grip tightening are overwhelming. I can sense her tightly closing her eyes, thinking that it’ll change everything. Today, the same woman’s spirit—which has crushed mountains—is under the limelight of an unsettling past. Her beauty, confidence, intelligence and strength are all at stake. Her cries are so immense I can hear the sound of a lifetime of pain. I stroke her head and my other arm wraps around her waist, holding her in place. The tears flow unchecked down her cheeks, dripping from her chin. She is too sad to cry out or wail, just sits here as still as a statue while the magnitude of her loss sweeps over her.

Being in an abusive relationship with herself where self-resentment and shame were two sides of the same coin and allowing people to serve as benchmarks for her own self-worth only fuelled the fire within her when she fell short and she resorted to addictives. It was like building a castle of confidence in sand, only to see it swept away by the next ocean wave. For two years she became a local solo drug addict and an alcohol abuser with an on and off relationship with eating disorder for she couldn’t live up to her unattainable ideals. Food became her comfort and her abuser and when the constant state of dissatisfaction became frustrating, she fled—she moved to another country on any plausible excuse and hit the reset button.

Her short lived escape traumatized her grip on reality. She lost sense of whether she was happy, sad, hungry or sleepy. At USO, she was one step away from the precipice towards an inescapable and profound depression. She became aware of her self-destruction after her parents. The only thing I am thankful for Harry and Annie is that they taught her that something had to change, that she couldn’t be a puppet her entire life, or a paying lip service, that the one she is too busy competing against—the enemy—was herself.

Eventually it got better. She started having days were her words were sweet, her dreams outstretched reality, she had private affairs with the moon and her fierce voice and fluidity released the fire inside her. She reclaimed her disowned parts by vouching for happiness—that came only on her terms and that worked just for her. On certain days like today, her vulnerability relapsed and she wouldn’t know what was wrong, on those days she weeped. She has dared to worship her inner edges and imperfections and adorned herself with them; she has reclaimed her authenticity and became more whole, more powerful and truer. This can seem frightening, but instead it is freeing.

She is by no means a perfect porcelain figurine—she is complex, edged, flawed and always a work in progress. Her cracks and scars tell me about her history better than the thickest spines of books. They define, complete and unite her.

“It’ll get better. It always gets better,” I coo to her. She gives me a dry, sad laugh, shaking her head. She bleeds crippled reasons as to why all my words pierce like broken promises. ‘Sad’ sounds so childish, so flimsy, something one can cast off with smell of roses, or seeing an old friend, but ‘sad’ doesn’t even come close to any of that. It is an angry deity, a fierce god, a germinating seed—of depression, of anxiety, of loneliness—that grows it roots deep and wide to choke the hope out of a heart, to wrung joys like a dishrag. It has a local gradient descent where one is forever stuck in a trough for the feedback mechanism and the loop algorithms seem too slippery, too distant and even omnipresent.

Tears spill copiously from her eyes. I can see sincerity and heaven in them with fragments of a grueling burden tugging at her shoulders. Her face crumples, stray hair falling on her bowed face. I carefully tuck them behind her ear and her in my embrace. Her hair smells like something I have never experienced before—not of freshly picked flowers but of hope and possibility and the future. We sit silently; allowing Oliver and Florence’s argument from across the street and the beating of our own hearts mute the memoirs of our past.

I almost want to tell her about how I understand how distance works, how petty grievances can build up and that it doesn’t matter; how when we love someone we should try to make it work, always, but since the last four years there has been a sound proofed glass boundary between us, where we can see each other but not listen to each other. It’s like having guest appearances in each other’s lives where I’d only pick her up from airports for the media, drive her to events, be her date for award shows, cook for her on late studio nights and go on PR approved semi vacations (twice a year) for the gram.

I hug her tighter, rubbing her back and her head. I can never confess how I like myself better with her. I am short of words for my wonderland, my paradise—a five feet four with long hair and a really nice smile. “It’s okay, shhh, its okay,” I whisper. It is a shock to see her tiny body being whipped about by violent emotion. Her nails have started to scratch my back and I can barely hold my tears for it is heartbreaking to see her so weak.

“It’s okay. I got you and I lov—” I hold my breath at that. I love you. The words are at the tip of my tongue. I caress her hair softly, just the way she loves it and leave gentle kisses on her head. Resting my chin on her head, I close my eyes and let the implications of that sentence hang between us as the idea sinks in. All I can hope for is for Maira to hear my ‘I love you’s’ through the throbbing of my heart as our chest collides at this very moment.

If I were to be honest, I’ve never screamed ‘I love you’ so quietly before. Sometimes, I all hope to be is her school times’ ex-boyfriend’s stuntman and have the courage to do all things he couldn’t—like trusting Maira, and maybe even loving her. I listen avidly for the slightest sound apart from her sobs, but all I hear is my aggravated breathing and cogitate if I am hearing her too, or is that just me hoping to? “I got you. I got you.” I repeat it like a mantra to calm her and regain my control. The mountains that she is carrying, she was only supposed to climb.

//

But perhaps we all had our own shares of difficulties that had been a strange necessary step in some process, because I had hurt and healed in the months prior today. Love and Choice have been two things that were never mine. Symphony Thrills was a path I didn’t know I wanted to walk on and walk in its glory. When I started living in a cage I built myself in my boy band days, I knew time had come to leave, not because I didn’t love it anymore but because who I had grown up to be in the years with them didn’t line up anymore with who they were.

I still remember the day—two days after Maira’s Birthday Bash—I had returned with Wafaa and Delnaz after the last of recordings with Collins Telefilm and Music Productions and meeting up with Penelope in London. I had orders to leave home again for tour, live the life dreamed for me, make money I wasn’t interested in, so, yeah, I wasn’t particularly excited. Leaving home had been particularly bad for me not because I had mommy issues but because as each second that passed took me away from safety. Each step I’d be forced to make took me away from familiarity. There is colossal pain in separation and terrifying panicking at the thought of the unknown. My screams had an eerie silence.

Delnaz and Wafaa had spread their makeup collection and were sorting through algorithm codes for their beauty website on the living room table adjacent to the open kitchen. Dad and Sabira had blabbered over Bollywood music about her grades and the new volleyball team recruitments at school. Mum had served hot chocolate and was then carefully cataloging the cheese and dairy she’d get weekly from Chester, with Maira. I have never understood why she would take pains to drive for two hours to get her cheese and dairy but that’s just what it is. I sometimes blame Delnaz for introducing her to Vegan and majorly to TLC on T.V. to talk about the best dairy.

After being awkwardly quiet for a few minutes, I had said, “I might—have to—leave in a day for tour.” Maira’s gasp had sliced the tension in the air. Mum had haphazardly wiped her hands on the nearest tea towel, taking a seat on the kitchen table. “It might be a year this time,” Mum had cleared the table cluttered with Maira’s Polaroid photos with her arms and had settled to paste them on coloured strings, “when you see me again.” I had explained. “Plus Maira also leaves to start a life after USO.”

“Why Zaahid weren’t you already working whilst being on the judging panel?” mum had jumped in, being all flustered and restless, “why does Maira leave too?”

“Yes, but tour’s almost here and the next album is in works—”

“Why should Maira leave?” mum had dismissed me by the back of her hand, clearly being more interested in her whereabouts. Thanks ma, I love you too.

“As a part of her agreement with Collins Telefilms and Music Production Company, Stephan wants her in office.” I had shrugged nonchalantly, picking up the samosa directly from the serving dish. “I’m sure you’ve received the formal email.” I had quizzed her, and she shook her head, her bun bobbing along with head.

“But Zaahid—” Mum had resisted.

“Where will she reside, bhaiya?” Sabira had cut her off, walking to the fridge behind mum and snogging on the last of donuts horridly. She had wiped her hands on her pants.

“In her place?” I had said almost instantly, giving my mother the look that said, ‘right?’ I had always been such a sucker for validation. It felt like in my brain was a maple table where three versions of me came together to make a decision—one would be the dark demon saying how I’d fail, the other would be sunlight multiplied chirping, ‘it’s a beautiful day and you got this,’ and the third would be a couch potato referring to how it would be too much effort and work and when all would’ve given their decisions they’d look at me for the final vote. Now, let me see…Immediately, I realised she didn’t have her place, so I had offered, “She can rent an apartment until she finds a place for herself.”

“She needs to save money for her future!” mum had dropped the scissor on the table. There was urgency in her voice, as if silently pointing out things that shouldn’t have been mentioned out loud. She had stilled for a moment, gazing down at me.

“She’s won a huge amount on the show. I’m pretty sure that would be sufficient for a month in the city, besides, Stephan is way too excited to get her started so maybe he’ll soon give her, her first pay check…”

“London, is an expensive city,” mum had closed her eyes, and I think it was in exasperation.

“What do you want me to do?” I had pinched my nose with my index finger and thumb at that comment. There had been no way out of that situation—my family was determined to put me in a fix, and eventually they did. My eyes were wide and serious and the atmosphere in the room had changed, it had become accusatory.

“Take her in.” I had swallowed at that.

“Excuse me?” I had interjected, genuinely intrigued.

“What—you go on tour soon; she might as well use your absence.”

“But—” I had glanced at Maira’s confused face.

“Tay—Mrs.—Phu—phupi,” Maira had fumbled, tasting the words for the first time. “Phuphi,” she had again begun, “I’ll manage, please, don’t do t—” she had been as eager as I was to get out of the mess mum was creating.

“See, she says, she’ll manage. It’s all good here. We don’t h—” I had swung my right arm in a ‘ta-daaa’ manner, placing my point forth and hoping it to be a final decision. Mum was glowering at me, I could feel it. When I looked at her, her scowl had deepened. I had mouthed a ‘what’ to her and she had motioned me to help Maira out.

I had breathed in surprise, closing my eyes briefly and running a hand through my hair. Eventually, I was made to say, “On second thoughts, I think, Maira you should come with me. I can surely spare a room to you.” Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I had struck my forehead with my fist, cursing the way the words tumbled out. “That sounded better in my head…” my eyes had lifted off to Maira’s, and she was frantically blushing while I had nibbled on few sprinklers of guilt. “You do know what I mean right?”

“Yeah,” she had nodded her head, gulping large sips of hot chocolate and the summer pre-august air.

Following that, a day later we both had driven to London—annoyed at each other—on a wet late night.

//

“I’m fine—I’m okay—I’m so-sor-sorry—this isn’t even important—er?—I’m fine—le-le-let me go…” Maira mumbles in my neck, pushing her palms against my chest but not making any other movement to let go. She grips on so tightly despite the fact that her palms are sore and burned. Her nails dig deep into the corroded material of my t-shirt, as a tear rolls down her cheek and onto my tshirt.

I’ve come to recognize two types of sadness. One is what I associate with Logan Thompson—one of my former best friends and currently a Symphony Thrill member—where our body reacts to events in our life, like, losing a friend, a parent, a sibling, news on T.V, or harsh words. The kind that begins with, ‘I’m sad because <user’s grievances>…’ Then there’s the other kind—the worst kind—that I associate with Maira where it sits in her bones and can smell the storm clouds under her skin; it can feel the disaster burning within her, waltz down her spine. This sadness provides her comfort as if without her she’d forget how to breathe, to exist, and to live.

On some mornings when she wakes up at a time when the sun is blinding, the neighbours are cackling over their Sunday after church brunch, she feels sad, so incredibly sad. The kind that means, ‘I’m sad and I don’t know why,’ and sounds like, ‘I’m fine.’ It has hollowed her inside out and carries the tears of a thousand oceans and infinite shards of glass that pierce her heart with every beat. When everyone laughs, she can’t bring herself to do it, which is the scary part. Someday she is somebody, somebody with pain and sadness and someday she’s nobody.

“Shush, shhh….it’s okay. I got you.” I coo to her, rubbing her head. I’m careful with the words and choose them well. Maira silently teaches me how following her I’ll never plant my happiness in people and let it grow there, for when they leave my garden has one less flower. My therapist says I should start putting it in myself and make myself the happiest little daisy there could be. Maira is the paramount example of what happens when one lets others direct the kind of the day one has. We need to learn to be greedy when it comes to happiness and ambition. In that order.

Living in a world like ours Anxiety and Depression have become a fad on the internet. No one understands the gravity of it but wants to flash it around like a jewel. At a time when food is delivered at our doorstep, dresses to underwears can be bought online with a few clicks; dates can be captured with a left and right, we feel miserable, despite the high paying jobs, independence and our youth. We crib and cry about our imperfect jobs, partners, bodies and fleeting relationships. The pressure to ‘achieve’ to ‘arrive’ is real, which includes the pressure for perfect weight, skin, partner, job and a swanky car which you can drive around with your black glares, party in the chic clubs and have candids that look regal. The benchmark for success is your neighbours’ Mr. < insert a super hi fi fancy surname> son/daughter who drinks like a fish, owns a start-up at the Silicon Valley and can play the drums.

Having unachievable desires, there is no time to breathe for, one, you can’t afford to have fun and two, the fun you just had needs to be logged onto the social media. The crankiness leads to serious case of self doubt which like an invisible tragedy stares at our faces. It’s there when we skip lunch to achieve the deliverable for the client, it is there when we push against the crowd to catch the first train, and it is there when our colleagues nails the board meeting, when we see our friends holidaying at exotic abroad resorts, when we notice the receding hairline or the wrinkles. We are never happy—because we are too harsh on ourselves.

Thus the dissatisfaction, whose bar we have built ourselves castigates us, rebukes us to push harder—physically, emotionally and socially. Eventually we start naming the dissatisfaction; Anxiety and Depression for our ambitions are a thin line between success and obsession.

Here is where The Ahluwalia’s falted. They never told their daughter to relax, to not be perfect, to celebrate life, celebrate her and that it’s okay to not be overly ambitious. Eversince that and thanks to Maira’s dogged determination to learn from every failure, she has managed to give us some truly fine, brave performances despite her lukewarm beginnings after USO, she has cracked the industry like no one before her. The truth is Maira was never the most beautiful, never the most superior prodigiously talented artist or a more marketable face, but what she did have was a superhuman willingness to try anything and an attitude of Teflon resilience towards failure. In a world where the rest of us were too busy being afraid of the crushing shame of failure, she rose above the voices that would drown her, as she fixated on her singular goal of success.

“I’m sorry…” Maira inhales sharply, groaning, “Let me go.” She says ‘sorry’ like it’s a greeting. I think about our lives, our past and our fogged future. I muse over her perpetual sad smile and how one incident can scar another for life—how she knew things. I don’t know what exactly she knew—but she did. Her eyes hide secrets that leak out late at night when she is alone.

//

The next morning after Maira’s unfortunate paparazzi incident, six years back, we had sat in the kitchen quietly munching the sandwiches Mrs. Khan had prepared when the door bell rang.

“Penelope,” Maira had whispered, opening the door.

“Maira?” Penelope had sounded surprised, impressed at once.

I had stood behind them, taking a deep, healing breath and slowly had begun to calm. Penelope had been watching me with wide and suspicious eyes. I had shrugged minutely then and murmured petulantly, “hey babe.” An awkward silence had ensued over us, a foggy mist which didn’t crack even under the scrutiny of our greetings.

Maira and Penelope had developed arch nemesis back then—Penelope had been fuming over her loss at Ultimate Sing Off and Maira had a clear cut belief that Penelope had robbed her off her devices back in the show; I believed the latter part too. Penelope had questioned me about Maira’s presence through gritted teeth and I had given her the run down. Unexpectedly, she didn’t buy that and gave me a half smile; her eyes were alight with a salacious gleam. I had raised my eyebrow at her, cocking my head, guessing her motives.

Without a warning, without a reason, a minute later, the girls had blasted off—ready to pull out the hairs from each other’s heads, smacking arms and torsos, tackling each other to the ground, climbing on top of each other, wrestling, ready to bite and snap off limbs if it were possible, but for the time being, they were screaming and had been ready to punch each other in the eye.

My heart had thawed a little, with horrified eyes I had called for Mrs Khan and eventually we pulled the girls apart. That day I had reserved seats at a restuarant for dinner but after the fight in the morning, I could already see the grey clouds looming over that idea. Still, at half past seven I had found myself knocking on Maira’s door, because what was there to lose? I had spared her ten minutes to dress and as punctual as she was, she had arrived by the car a full thirty minutes later dressed in a pinkish-grey blazer over a black tank top and jeans. Maira, Penelope and I were locked in a tin box together all the way up to the restaurant I was taking them to and the road had seemed to be longer than one of grandpa’s war tales.

Delight is the only word for the look on her face. Maira’s gasp could be heard from her eyes. Her face reflected the lights on the trees and the garden, like someone had taken a handful of glitter and thrown at her. The place wasn’t a shiny jazzy place where the “so called” sophisticated celebrities paid two hundred pound bills only for a glass of champagne; it was a quiet, small cottage restuarant just on the outskirts of London. Devoid of security and the small risk of being recognized, we sat at a garden table. “I love this place,” Maira had declared.

“I hate this place,” almost simultaneously Penelope had commented, wrinkling her nose, “Zaahid you promised me good dinner and this is—out of all the places you could go to—this is what you choose?” Penelope had whined, swinging her arm around the place, berating the décor.

Now, here’s a quick abstract of the relationship Ayaan Ahluwalia and Maira shared. At four, he was her superman who could twirl her around in parks. At six, when she lost a class competition, only he could make her smile again with takeaway pizza over a conversation of ‘how to always be the captain of your own ship.’ At nine, when the school annual day decided to dress her like a fairy, he took her on a princess date. At thirteen, he made her smile with Valentine’s Day flowers. At seventeen, he missed her convocation of being crowned Head Girl, Chief Editor of the school journal and Cultural Head at university. At twenty, he was absent when a forty percent scholarship landed her in NewCastle. At twenty three, he was dead. A relationship as sacred as theirs was the first one to get deteriorated when the distance—physical and metaphorical—between them widened the differences of who they used to be and who they became. The first man she learnt to trust broke her heart unintentionally and unknowingly.

That night in the restaurant, Maira had been raptured by a father-daughter duo, seated right across her. Her heart was full and her eyes, glossy. Playing with the food halfheartedly she had clanked her fork with the melamine plate. “You’re staring,” Penelope had declared with a stern voice, putting the glass harshly on the table. Maira had taken a while to address it, process it. With eyes that were a breath away from weeping, she had hung her head and forced a mouthful.

I had been breathing hard, looking at her baffled little face. Oh, God. How could she do this to her? Pressing Penelope’s hand on the table and nudging her knees, I had seen the disgust and anger in her eyes. Hers flared like a blowtorch and then died or so I thought. “Don’t do it,” I had murmured.

Despite the hurt she had been inflicting, Penelope took another opportunity to point to someone’s quinceanera celebrations inside the cottage. From our position we could see the father changing her shoes. I had again bumped my knees with hers; warning her, “Stop it.” But Penelope was awful. She was angrier that I thought and she held grudges. She remembered it all. She remembered every single time, every single word that made her lose to Maira.

“What? Why?” Penelope had scowled, irritated by my actions. “Zaahid, she has to deal with it. Someday or the other, she’ll suck it up,” she had shrugged her shoulders like this kind of a thing happened daily “so, stop being Robin Hood for her, she isn’t a goody two shoes.” Her voice had made Maira’s existence de trop.

“You’re right,” Maira had uttered with a cracked voice, leaving.

Back home, I could hear her sobbing into the pillow. That moonless night taught me that one cannot always count on people to respect their feelings, even if they respect theirs. Being good doesn’t guarantee that others will be too. Without knocking, I had pushed open the door to her room to find her sat on the cold floor of the window sill with bandaged arms and in a tank top. Shaking from the cold and hurt, and upon hearing my approaching footfalls, she had thrown pillows to make me leave but I had wrapped her in my jacket and held her through. I had apologized on Penelope’s behalf but with white salty tracks decorating her cheeks, Maira wouldn’t hear it. Her pain was so immense and I had so much to say but just didn’t know how. I’d never heard silence quite so loud.

Since then, I have come to recognize when her brain cycles through emotions faster than an acrobat flipping in the air. She switches from level to rocky, fighting a mixture of contrasting emotions, vying for dominance. Only after a reboot of sleep would she be calm and the day ahead would feel like a sea of possibilities. How does a nap stitch her head back together I haven’t got a clue, but it’s a miracle every time. So today, suddenly, everything has changed. It isn’t about how mad or hurt I am. It is all about making the light shine in Maira’s eyes again. It isn’t about what she did or didn’t do. It is about who she is and how much I love the woman before me with tired eyes, crazy hair and defeated shoulders. The Wonder Woman who has never needed a Knight in Shining Armour.

Today, it feels like I’m again being exposed to a part of her soul she doesn’t let out of the bag. I feel trusted, treasured and significant. In this moment this feeling is more real than the blood in my veins, my heart is soft, my zeal strong and vibrant. I matter. Though an occasional doubt of ‘what happened to her on December Night #1?’ tries to jinx our moment, I fight it. At least I try to. To think about how ready I was to give it (my ‘well established’ Symphony Thrill life) all up—everything, makes my hair stand. I was crazy in love and I didn’t want to live without her. I’d imagined having a lifetime to be in love with her but it ended in a second. I’ve told myself a million of lies over and over in an attempt to soften the absolute obliteration of my heart when we ended. But here are the three truths: I fucked up, she fucked up, and neither of us meant to hurt each other on purpose.

“Shhhh...It’s okay. I’m here f—” I pull away from Maira holding her head in my face as tear stained, blotched, mottled skin, puffy eyes meet mine. “I got you and I’m not leaving.” Dark eyes had never really been my favourite until I saw them on her. There’s a story in her eyes. I refrain from using ‘forever’ for it is a definite indefinite word, a blunt promise, beautiful and always doomed. Crying in abject misery, silent tears roll down her cheeks. I bite the insides of my cheek, not sure what to do with her. I love Maira, I empathize with Maira, I absolutely love her but can I—would I—ever be able to trust again even after what happened on Forbidden December Night #1? I think not.

I won’t glorify or romanticise heartbreak, for me it was a kind of death and I was forced to keep living. A girl, considered as the pure spark of love turned my safe haven into my personal hell. That December night she had been so angry, so out of it, so lost. When she had thought I had left for the night, I had stood outside her door, hearing her tearing the room apart and crying. We had been just friends clinging onto each other and onto the hope that ‘love’ could save us. Talk about false hope.

Talk about false love.

Nausea swarms unrestrained in my stomach and my head is full of half-formed regrets. I want to—have to—be present for Maira, to make her believe that even though she carries too much sadness, she still deserves to be loved, deserves to be saved from drowning in self-hate, for I exactly know how it feels to be alone and helpless. “Shh...It’s okay. I’m here. I got you.” Heavy silence and heavier feelings are as different as being broken and breaking another soul.



NOTE

And I’ll continue to wait. Wait for you to return what you stole. Because I gave you the best part of me…and I want it back.

“There’s so much history in the streets and mama’s good eats and wonder on repeat, there is so much history in my head, the people I’ve left, the ones that I’ve kept.” Song: suburbia by Troye Sivan.

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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