N O T E
Stay is a sensitive word. We wear who stayed and who left in our skin forever.
“Denise, your turn!” Jane moves across the semi-circle and uses the corndog as the microphone. They are in the last round of three-legged race and whichever team wins gets to talk about what they will when they grow up. This weird congregation of a ‘game’ has been co-written and is co-executed by Natalia and Jane. “What do you want to be when you grow up, baby?” Natalia asks from her chair.
The sentence immediately catches Zaahid’s attention and he turns around from talking to his previous bandmates. I can feel him see me next. I don’t turn around in my seat. I don’t even want to see what is responsible for bringing back memories of ‘us’ in less than two seconds flat. But I give in to the intensity of his stare and when our eyes meet, his face is expressionless. His rigidness is terrifying. I know something terrible is about to happen—recollecting Zaahid—and I have no clue how to prevent it. Nostalgia is a dirty liar, pretending things are better than they actually are.
Over the years Yousuf has had sporadic guilty anxiety attacks exactly like the one I had caught him in. On one such occasion, almost a year ago now, he had a coinciding heart attack scare as well. Taybah and the girls had been on a girl’s trip somewhere upstate and I was in Paris mid-tour. Only Zaahid and Yousuf had been home. Panicking, the first person he had called from the hospital was me while I was on stage. “Maira…Maira, aba…please, please just come home.”
I had taken the earliest flight home. I had found him outside the ICU and as soon as I had kept my hand on his shoulder, he had closed his eyes and had pulled my head to his shoulder, breathing out a shaky breath and had begun to shake uncontrollably. His shoulders had been trembling and he was squeezing me, burying his head in my neck. He was crying. I had wrapped my arms around him, allowing him to let out whatever fear, worry and the sense of absolute loss had been pent up inside of him. I had kissed him lightly on the side of his head over and over. He was barely making any sound and what little sound he was making was muffled into my shoulder. “Talk to me, Zaahid. Please. We are in this together. You understand?”
I could feel him nodding and I could sense his whole demeanor coming to a quiet calm. “He was crying in the garden. I could hear him from the hall.” His eyes were glossing over again and he had been in utter agony. “He was littered around with his greasy snacks from the bakery, like he was eating away the questions bothering him.” A tear had flown down his cheek. “And then suddenly he was holding his heart in discomfort. In SO much pain, Maira.” His eyes were red and full of so much hurt. The doctor had come out to say that if Yousuf survives, he will have to be more in check of his sugar and oil, something which we thought he already was doing.
“I will never be anything like the people around me, Maira. I will never be this irresponsible knowingly.” He had kissed me on the side of the head and we held each other in silence until the tension in him slowly had begun to subside. Whatever connection we thought we had before this…it didn’t compare to that moment. No matter what happened between us in this life, that moment had just merged pieces of our souls together. We’d always have that, and in a way, it was comforting to know.
Clapping’s in the room break my reflections. A hand moves a stray strand of hair that has fallen on my face behind my ear and I don’t realise that it is Zaahid until my eyes fall on his yin-yang tattooed wrist. His fingers linger on the curve of my neck and chills break out through me. I can’t tell if I’m making a mistake loving you, Zaahid, but I swear I’d do anything for you. You are my everything but am I anything to you? I consider. Who ARE you!? He pushed you! My subconscious is not happy. Your blind loyalty is admiring but also deeply frustrating. She taps my shoulder. I’m glad she’s awake now. Sometimes I need her to put me on the right track.
“What?” Zaahid says, leaning into me, depleting my personal space. “Did you say something?” The playfulness in his expression chips away at my embarrassment. I blush, shaking my head. “I think Annie called you in the kitchen to taste her sticky toffee pudding.”
“Okay,” I nod my head, watching him for several seconds and then begin to walk away. Annie always has this ‘quality control’ checks with me, in which we rarely inspect the food but share tiny gossips we hear in these types of social gatherings. It has its own thrill and we both thrive off it. The minute I take a step forward, Denise runs into my saree, tumbles and falls.
“Auntie Maira!” She huffs and gets up and without another word runs into the house. I see around the living room and find Natalia and Harry hosting a treasure hunt which has a surprise gift at stake too. The winner gets the gift and a huge box of early Halloween candies—you always get brownie points for that.
In the kitchen I can hear the polite conversations in the background, a balloon being burst, glasses clinking and the kid’s laughter. Two of Harry’s bandmates wives and Jane have joined us so Annie doesn’t get a chance to share a chatter [which usually marvels at Jane and Natalia. Please note the sarcasm.] She carelessly cuts the shortbread and I have to put a hand on her hand to calm her down. Giggles wrinkle between us. Nonetheless she questions me, “will you join us here tomorrow for Halloween, love?” passing around the canapés as the chats rose and fell with wine glasses emptied and refilled.
“Oh no,” I take a huge gulp of wine, “Zaahid’s mum is coming over tomorrow.” I place the glass on the countertop and it makes a loud clink sound. I gulp down my nervousness by taking generous bites of Annie’s pudding and shortbread.
“Invite her over!” she puts her plate down and takes steps towards me, “the more the merrier,” she laughs. “I don’t want to miss seeing you hobble all the kit kats and struggle biting off toblerone’s!” I playfully push at her arm. The undertone in her voice pierces my heart and a thought flashes by. Sometimes, how much we love is measured by how much we miss—not by how much, but by how soon. Zaahid missed me after a year, the time around our first anniversary, when his mum was supposed to be visiting us, while I missed him when he had driven me to the farthest hotel.
My phone rings again and it’s the same unknown caller. I cut the phone. “I don’t even like chocolate.” I roll my eyes at her acting all calm and content and dip the shortbread in the chocolate sauce she sprinkled the pudding with and take a bite. “Plus, maybe his sisters might be coming too,” I shrug. “Its been a while since I joined them on Halloween.” My phone rings again after a message pops up on the screen. I take it as my best pretext and excuse myself out of the kitchen.
I need to get my bearings together before I spill the beans to anybody out of my anxious pangs. When I walk out, a hand grips my arm tightly and pulls me to the side, behind a hallway pillar. By instinct and mainly by today’s events I flinch and raise my own hands to protect myself and almost scream when a palm silences me. The grip is rough and hurting. It’s not Zaahid’s, I know it because I didn’t feel a spark at the touch. Fearfully I look up to see who decided to play Angry Zaahid today. Turns out, it’s Logan.
“Did he do this to you?” Logan accuses. I take a step away from him until his hand is no longer touching my face. He curls his fingers up into a fist and drops his hand to his side. I tilt my head to the side and narrow my eyes at him. I act cool but silently hope he can’t see the bruises. “Did he—” I’ll put my bet on Zaahid’s name. He is the number one person on Logan’s hit-list but I need to stall him to buy time, to prepare my answers, no scratch that, my lies.
“Did he,” Logan, after another few seconds of studying me, lets out a short sigh with a barely noticeable roll of the eyes, “Zaahid.” He looks away and shakes his head, grabbing at the back of his neck. “Did Zaahid hurt you?” he says without any inflection in his voice. Yes. He pushed me. Twice and I fell off the ledge of the sofa and—and he pushed me against the bed’s edge and he dug his thumb in my cheek in anger and and and…
“Did what!?” I pretend to be alarmed. I have never really pegged Logan to be the naïve type, but this doesn’t seem like innocence. It seems like pure concern which also means that my fear and anxiousness is blatantly evident. I can’t believe this is happening to me.
Logan’s expression doesn’t change. If anything, it grows even colder. He leans forward a few inches and lowers his voice when he speaks, “Maira, there is a bruise on your cheek. Where’d you get it?” I look at him and he’s eyeing me cautiously. My subconscious lets out a breath glad he can’t see my forehead.
I bring my hand to my face and make sure I don’t wince at the pain, “oh this! This is from today morning’s baking accident. When I’d burnt my hand, the dish flew from my hands and it might have just…touched my face.” Yes. That made sense. He looks back up at me and I shrug. I’m not really in the mood to explain the truth. It’s complicated and he’ll ask questions and Zaahid will find us any minute now.
But Logan isn’t convinced. “Did he slap you?” He asks again, this time a little more demanding. He reaches out to hold my wrist and stares at me coldly, expecting an explanation. I pull my wrist away, not liking where this is going.
“What!?” I almost shout, more out of the disbelief that even Logan thinks Zaahid is capable of something like that. Is that trait so, SO, apparent in Zaahid? “Are you drunk, Logan? We our educated individuals. We know and do better than that. Zaahid would NEVER lay a hand on me.” I inhale a long, deep breath. I’m not sure if the breath is more for a calming affect, or a distraction to keep me from yelling. But he did, Logan. But he did.
My words transform into an unbearable weight in my chest and all the same warning signs that flashed in my head since this morning about everyone around me and about Zaahid are flashing again, only this time they’re in big neon letters. I know my mouth is agape and my eyes are wide, but I’m relieved that hope isn’t a tangible thing, because everyone around me would see mine crumbling.
“Maira,” Logan takes a watchful step towards me. Denise runs through between us and then circles around me. The paper decorations trail behind her. She’s bursting with liquid sunshine. I hold out one of her hands and tell her to slow down and sit for a while but its like trying to tell fire not to burn. A minute later she rejoins her squad.
“Maira,” Logan again says and I stand there immobile, unable to move. I’m sad and I’m scared and I’m mad and I’m feeling all the things that I’m warranted to feel after what’s happened in the bedroom, but I’m not crying. And I won’t cry. Not in front of Logan at least. “Please talk to me. Are you okay? Why is he hovering around you? Why do you look so uncomfortable? Why—” I am too troubled with my thoughts to give an ear to Logan. I need to prioritise again. You got this. Baby steps. Yes. When I’d get home, I would do the only thing that I know will help. I would dance and compose music and then I will look into my attic. I would arrange my facts in order and I will research.
“I’m fine.” I say quietly, my expression uncertain. I try to act like it doesn’t affect me at all, because I really wish it didn’t, but the second Logan will walk away my mind will begin wandering and it will be stuck on just one thing and one thing only. Why the hell hasn’t Zaahid apologized?
“No, you aren’t!” He’s quiet for a minute and then says, “You shouldn’t even be with him. You have no idea what kind of person he is.” I laugh. Not because he’s funny…but because he’s serious. This guy that doesn’t even know who Zaahid is seriously trying to tell me who he ‘might appear to be.’ “Don’t laugh. You look so troubled and on edge besides him.”
A voice states, “I think she seems absolutely fine.” A second later, Zaahid is besides me, wrapping a hand around my waist, silently warning Logan of his future attempts. Zaahid hand feels heavy because it makes me feel like a possession, as if he has won a race. There are screams inside of me for which words cannot suffice. Seem is such a tricky word because most often than not things aren’t what they seem to be.
“Right.” Logan icily states and then walks past me, bumping me with his shoulder. This conversation will be ‘to be continued’ for Logan, I know this.
“Did you get a chance to eat yet?” Zaahid asks as he guides me forward with the hand on my back into the hall and towards the living room. The bitter taste of nastiness floods my mouth. Bastard! How can he act like nothing ever happened? Did it not happen? Oh god, I am going mad.
I shake my head, holding my breath in fear of the sounds that are escalating from deep within my throat. I will not cry. I will not cry. “No, I was just heading—” Out.
“Come let’s have something,” Zaahid says calmly, unwilling to release me. I hear him, but I pretend not to. Or I just don’t care. I try to struggle against his grasp but he only tightens his grip. “I have got your painkillers.” His unfazed thoughtfulness clenches my heart. I hate you! I hate you! My subconscious is yelling, saying that no medicine can cure the hurt he’s given me.
In most of my relationships, when they run their course, I become pestered by the question of ‘what next?’ or ‘where to put in all this love now?’ Before Zaahid Had Pushed Me my subconscious would always plant it in Zaahid. I am not sure where to put it next when Zaahid has made me feel like its my fault and I am still not sure how much can I ever forgive him for. If I don’t do it, I am sure I will plant my lifetime of resentment of men on him and that is not fair. For the last one year I have tried to bury my love for him but love is funny, try burying love and it comes back seeking revenge, always.
“Sit down Auntie Maira!” Denise runs from behind me. “You’re crashing our game,” she says without looking at me. I smile, because I was in middle of their ‘field.’ I pause for a moment and mull over the fact that I have walked out into the hall with my half empty dinner plate and a tablet in my fist. Away from Zaahid in the living room. My phone vibrates in my hand but doesn’t ring. I turn it over to see that its from the same unknown number. Why is this person bugging me so much today?
I admire Denise running straight into Natalia’s arms. It was Raahat’s last girlfriend and then Harry and maybe now Gia and even Zaahid that reiterate to me time and again that: there’s a bridge of relationships and your partner/better half or whoever, could love you in a way that you haven’t been loved before, but still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons might be, you must leave, because you never ever have to convince someone to join you on the bridge or be ready to do the work. In the end, there will always be more extraordinary love, more love that you’ve ever seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there will be love that will be ready.
The game has come to an end. Denise’s eyes are alight and every one of her muscles need to move, to jump and to dance. Everything is tickling her as funny and she’s just chattering to her mummy like if there’s one idea coming from her mouth there are seven more queuing up in her mind. Her friends are running from everywhere to gather near Harry and Natalia as they declare who gets the Halloween candies. Their excitement, their bouncy strides, their wide smiles and the wider hugs they reach for makes me feel like they are love in a bottle; just seeing them makes me glad to be alive.
In the middle of this charged air of enthusiasm, two little girls—maybe only a year apart or even twins—fall at my feet. My heel is on one of their’s dresses and the two are holding hands. “I’m so sorry, darlings.” I am absolutely embarrassed. “Wait, let me help you up,” I speak softly, silently hoping they don’t cry. I struggle to adjust my phone in the same hand that holds the plate and the tablet and has my clutch under my arm.
The two girls break into laughter as they sit on the floor. I sigh relieved. The first thing I notice on them is their jet-black and blonde hair; so shiny and so silky that I could tell apart each strand. They look at each other and laugh some more. I hold onto one’s arm and notice their starkingly contrasting eyes. One has honey dew eyes and for a second I believe I know them from somewhere. The other has icy blue eyes or a shade which is a myriad of all shades of blue swirled together. Upon hearing footfalls, they look over from besides me at someone walking near us. A man comes into my view but I am sitting opposite the light and its too bright. I can’t tell who it is but can only guess.
“Zaahid?” I ask but I am so sure of it. The light against him camouflages his silhouette. I hold out my plate and belongings to him so I can help the girls. Once he takes it from me, I make them stand. “Are you both okay?” I ask and then turn to Zaahid standing in the light, “Give me my clutch I might have a bandaid in there,” and I see its not Zaahid. The man blinks and adopts a serious face, though he is still suppressing his amusement.
“Oh,” I shake my head a little. “I am SO sorry. I thought you were someone else.” I immediately take back my plate and belongings from him. It happens so comically that the two of us can’t help but share a smile. The girls walk upto him beaming. The man stands tall like Zaahid and his appearance is equally seductive: dark raven black dyed hair [evident from his blonde roots], clear cut face and a toned physique.
“Don’t worry,” he gives me a small smile and I notice his cold blue eyes. He has a Roman nose and a thin pair of lips. His tight jaw has an angular shape that is filled with a little stubble. His pale skin looks so...right. The man is wearing a white cotton shirt with a silky blue suit which ties everything together. “They’re clumsy walkers.” He laughs.
“Oh no, I should I have watched my step.” I say, noticing for the first time he’s their father, “sorry.” I almost begin to walk away.
“Daddy ask her for a picture!” the elder one urges him by clinging to his thigh. He smiles, nodding at her. Embarrassingly he walks with me towards more light and we reach the junction of the hall and the living room. I place my dinner plate at a side table and my phone in the clutch. “Tell her we saw her two nights ago at the stadium!”
“Will she sign my dress?” The younger one looks at her father and he’s so visibly at a loss of words. He’s embarassed to be put here in this situation and he doesn’t know how to get out of it.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” he says, holding out his hand for a handshake. I feel like I’m in a conference room or this man is plagued by his business habits.
I smile but my eyes don’t shine with recognition. “You too,” I oblige. I don’t remember seeing his face before or of knowing him but maybe I do? I don’t know. Today, is NOT the day to talk casually with Maira.
“I’m Matthew. Matthew Cohen, the CEO of Cohen Enterprises.” He introduces himself formally, giving his business title like he actually could see I didn’t recognize him. Even if he hadn’t said that I would’ve still made conversation with him because—pleasantly—he is so inviting to look at and is so strikingly similar to Zaahid. “You did a photoshoot for my label a while ago.” Oh yes. The one Riya got me for. A luxury fashion brand.
“Yeah, I remember. Your company’s ethical and eco-conscious fashion choices.” I smile. The fuzz clears in my mind and I recognize his name from the label’s papers and letter heads. “Choosing animal cruelty free vogues made me seal the deal.”
“That’s our top priority. Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way.” He lifts his hand and drags it in the air, mimicking the way we underline important notes. The way he smiles makes me remember his portrait from a business magazine. They’d said that his firm was one of the biggest in the fashion industry.
“Absolutely.” I agree. Matthew’s enterprise was also said to debut at the Fortune 500 Companies congregation. It was because of his varied interests. Music. Fashion. Art. Cinema. His name was showing up everywhere.
“Maira, I know its highly inappropriate right now, but the girls would love a picture, maybe?”
“YES!” the younger—blonde—one squeals. She urges me to get down to match her height. “We even bought the dress with your name on it.” She jumps. “Will you sign my shoe?” She puts her foot in front of me and looks at Matthew for a pen.
The brunette walks to stand besides me. She holds out Matthew’s phone for a selfie. “But mummy found out and ripped it.” She sighs. The younger one drops the idea of signing and jumps at me and we click a bunch of group pictures.
“Why?” I look at the blonde girl, my eyebrows rise, “why did she do that.” They shrug simultaneously. The younger one clings to my neck and wants to kiss me all over.
“I love you Maira. I saw your first show in here at the stadium for this year’s tour.” The brunette hugs me quick and fast. “I think mummy doesn’t like your music.” My eyes don’t leave hers. Those eyes. I’m finding it so difficult to digest her constrast to Matthew. I can’t explain this feeling. “Or you.”
“Do I not sound nice?” I playfully pout. “Why doesn’t she like me?” I flush, feeling beyond foolish and catching myself begging for validation. The girls don’t answer. They become busy in trying snapchat filters.
“Maira don’t look at your right. Mummy is right there. I don’t want her to see us,” the blonde whisper shouts, urgently. I nod at them but they have clearly tickled my fancy so I follow the younger one’s gaze into the hall.
I look at the only person in our view. I notice their teal coloured gown with a low-cut neckline and the fine straight blonde hair. How is the daughter brunette? “She is beaut—” I stare at the women open-mouthed. The world falls at my feet. Oh. My. God. My subconscious collapses on the floor retching, and I think I am going to be sick, too. No! I stop midsentence and again steal a glance at her to let it sink that what I was seeing was nothing but the truth. “P—Pen—Penelope? As in... Penelope Evans?” I look up at Matthew, questioningly. I am too stunned. Asking the question fills me with a fresh wave of nauseous disbelief.
Matthew. Matthew. Shareholder of Capital One’s Management—the one’s who’ve dealt with Zaahid’s previous band. Now, manage Cherry Foxes. Is— “Yes, that’s my beautiful wife.” Is Penelope’s husband!? He admires her from the hall and launches into explaining why she isn’t comfortable having me around her daughters because of the history she and I share.
The girls run around us laughing. Snapchat is really funny. Brunette hair. Honey eyes. THOSE eyes. Penelope’s are blue. Matthew looks at me waiting for an answer but I can’t respond. I stand paralysed. Matthew is a blond with blue eyes too. The air grows heavy over us and I am pretty sure Matthew doesn’t notice that but I need to escape because my mind has observed some dots and I’m dreading to join them and figure out a conclusion.
“Yeah, I totally understand.” I manage. The girls run to Penelope and Matthew walks away with a quick thank you. A beat later, our eyes meet. She lifts her hand up to acknowledge it. I politely give her a smile watching back and forth between Matthew and her. I repeat that process once, twice, thrice even.
I close my eyes to remember anything about genetics of eye colour. I come up with ‘its complex and the variations in colour are controlled by more than fifteen different genes.’ I focus on Darwin’s theory of inheritance. Dominance and recessive traits. But dominance arises when there are different traits. Both of them have blonde hair and blue eyes. I open my mouth to say something but then close it again. I just can’t find the words to explain this revelation. Maybe you don’t know science well, Maira. Maybe you know wrong? I hope so, I am wrong.
I sigh, exasperated. Shaking my head, I peel off my eyes from them and turn my head to clear off my thoughts. It might be a coincidence. My subconscious whispers. She raises her eyebrows in expectation. I think not. I suggest. I look over my left to see the last person I wanted to see right now walking towards me. Zaahid. I look up at his hair and when he walks close enough and there’s only the dinner plate in his hand separating us, I look carefully at his eyes. Surely this is nothing but a pure coincidence. Surely Penelope would rush off to her new pilates class after the party with her husband and Zaahid would drive us home where we would fill the silence with our giant-sized worry of the bedroom episode and with Zaahid being genuinely sorry and promising for it to never happen again.
And if we’d—I’d—be able to put it behind us, I might even treat Zaahid by trying to build a parfait from scratch while he would watch me from the kitchen bar stool directing and reading from the recipe book. It’ll be too bizarre. Then in the middle of raspberries and blueberries cutting I would mention Penelope’s daughters and Zaahid would start talking about their cute hairdos or cute smiles or cute eyes or cute dresses and I would playfully voice where they’d get their features from and he would slap a hand on his forehead and say, ‘Of course, how could have I missed it? Me!’
I shudder at the thought. Zaahid shares his food me. He’s telling me to have some more. Genetics. Brunette? Honey eyes? This is a puzzle, where every reason I’m coming up with to believe that Zaahid wasn’t a part of this, is also built on the foundation of a house that can collapse with the slightest shake. I feel like the anchors of my existence have been used to sink my ship.
I think I am going to be sick. With every spoonful of food Zaahid helps me to, I feel a step closer to retching. How can he act so normal? The girls are giggling just in the room next to us. Zaahid Noorie left Penelope Evans house at five in the morning. My subconscious reads out the news anchors breaking news. Where was Matthew? Does he know? Oh my God, I think I am going mad. What irritates me more is how can Zaahid pretend like everything is okay when it isn’t! The fear of the unknown has wrapped us both. And I am not even sure which path my life will take after I walk through Harry’s door, and if it’s a path Zaahid and I’ll even be able to take together.
The air around us grows thick. Too thick to take in. I stand still, directly in front of him, unable to move. Everything grows quiet except for what’s inside my head. There are so many thoughts and questions and memories and they’re all trying to take over and I don’t know if I need to cry or scream or sleep or run. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
I need to go outside. I feel like Zaahid and the whole damn house are closing in on me and I need to go outside so there’s room to get everything out of my head. I just want it all out. I shove past him and he tries to grab my arm, but I yank it out of his grasp. “Maira, wait,” he yells after me.
My nearest escape door are the stairs so I keep running until I reach them and I ascend them as fast as I can, taking two at a time. I can hear him following me, so I speed up and my foot lands further than I intend for it to. I lose my grip on the rail and twist my foot and almost fall forward. I recover fast enough to escape Zaahid’s grip and run into a bedroom and latch it behind me. Ironically, I have come back to the one in which Zaahid and I were an hour ago.
This is a coincidence. I am thinking too much. I am creating problems. Zaahid would NEVER do that to me. Zaahid would never—why was his jacket reeking with my Chanel cologne that I told Penelope about? Why were their lipstick stains? He came back early morning. Like a walk of shame. My thoughts are everywhere. I’m so heavy. Everything is so heavy. I don’t like this feeling. There isn’t anything physically on my chest, but I feel a pressure unlike anything I’ve ever felt. And sadness. An overwhelming sadness is consuming me, and I have no idea why. My shoulders are shaking and there are sobs coming from somewhere in the room. Who’s crying? Am I crying?
I throw my clutch across the room. My phone and the pictures splatter the floor. I take a few steps backwards towards the wall, in order to maintain my balance. I am wary to take steps forward into the room. It’s tinted with so much hurt that I cannot even begin to define it. Zaahid is shouting from the other side of the door. He’s asking me if I am okay and wants me to open the door. “Zaahid, I am okay. I just need a minute to myself, please.” All my pretense of quiet coping is lost. “I’ll join you downstairs. Please go.” I sink against the door. I have no idea why I allow him to do this to me over and over again.
“Okay.” Zaahid speaks. A beat later when I thought he’d left, he softly speaks, “I will wait for you downstairs.” A folded napkin comes through under the door. In Zaahid’s neat cursive it says, ‘Maira, please, please don’t do anything stupid. You are loved. Today and always. Z.’ My heart sinks and my anger flares. You did this to me! Never again, Zaahid. Never again. I vow under my breath. But how many times have you said that before? Too many times. Did you mean it this time? I hope so.
All I’ve ever wanted from Zaahid is loyalty. I know how I broke his heart first but I respected him and I always felt he respected me too. Did he? I have always been so loyal to him in terms of relationships, couldn’t he be too? Yes, we both are stuck in a relationship we didn’t want but that doesn’t give him a right to fuck around. Or maybe it does. Oh, this is all so fucked up and suddenly I’m bone crushingly tired. My eyes roam around the room. I see the coffee table. The sofa. The bed. The wall.
A steel vice wraps around my chest and squeezes so I feel like I’m suffocating and I gasp for air, but beneath my panic I can hear the weary, calm voice of experience: you’ve been here before. It won’t kill you. It feels like you can’t breathe, but you actually are breathing. It feels like you’ll never stop crying, but you actually will.
I take in huge gulps of air but my grief only soars. I cannot keep myself from thinking about Zaahid and Penelope being together again. I am starting to feel Zaahid’s kindness/care/whatever-he-does-to-me towards me is his guilt for hanging me out to dry. For me, loyalty isn’t grey. It’s black or white. You’re either completely loyal, or not loyal at all, and people have to understand this. You can’t be loyal only when it serves you. So, today’s tea is: loyalty is rare. If you find it, keep it.
Maybe Maira he didn’t do any of that? What if this is a pure coincidence? Maybe you don’t know genetics? You were so poor in science. I am a goddamn engineer. You never got that degree, remember? But I have to give Zaahid the benefit of doubt. I have no concrete proof to hold against him. But I absolutely regret loving him so much so that today, I can feel my soul being torn apart and if I didn’t, maybe my love wouldn’t be true at all. I had promised myself since junior school that I wouldn’t place my self worth in another man again but I never realized when I broke that oath.
Today to say, I am disconsolate, is like putting a huge emotion into a small insignificant word. Logan's Nana’s words retort me. ‘When you continue to chase someone, who does not want to be caught you bankrupt yourself from the human being who would have been able to see your worth all along.’ She knew life’s lesson of ‘getting the worst bruises from people who literally didn’t touch us’ because life doesn’t give free lessons and she might’ve had to pay the price.
How many times can the same thing break your heart? As long as you love it.
“Tell me what you need, I can make you more than what you are. Come and lay the roses on the floor, every single Sunday, don’t get bored. I just want to freeze; I can give you more than what you are. Now I see you standing all alone, I never thought the world would turn to stone.” Song 11 minutes by Halsey
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