Delicious Ambiguity | the rainbow named trust

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Chapter 29 {Unparagoned}

N O T E

*****

Who needs cocaine when human emotions can fuck you up just the same?

Unparagoned: having no paragon; unequaled, matchless, peerless.



Zaahid

When I saw Maira sneaking into the Spencer’s kitchen with burning red eyes—that I knew were only because of me—I was struck with the cruel affliction of anxiety. Why do I always have to screw things up? Her fretfulness and anger felt like a thunderclap in my chest, an icicle stabbing me straight in the spine. I should have had more self control. Terror and confusion clawed at the edges of my brain as I clutched my whiskey glass. As my mind struggled to comprehend this, there was a dim thought that echoed through the midst of my blind panic. It told me, with a chilling certainty, that nothing would ever be the same again between Maira and me.

When I left Symphony Thrills, in an interview I was blamed of not being “grateful” to the stage I was given, but I always used to say, “sometimes you have to make peace with the fact that you are the villain in someone else’s story even if you thought you were doing the right thing. You don’t get to tell them how to narrate their experience,” because I knew the time and energy and the piece of my soul that I had given and shared with the band and the audience and how it all had meant to me. What no one understood was, as the years passed, our lives had become monotonous, the music plain and in the middle of it, we grew up. Then, trying different ventures sounded more suitable than continuing in the band.

Today, I am Maira’s villain. Even though all I’ve ever tried to do is to love her; but loving Maira would be so fun if she wasn’t so blue and I hadn’t turned suspicious. After I had followed her into the garden, I found her head tilted and gazing at the moon, having her secret conversations with him. She looked so incredibly peaceful then, so I chose to walk back into the house and leave her undisturbed but when she didn’t even flinch—the woman who could even sense an ant walking on her shoe—at my presence, I decided to walk upto her.

There’s a full moon out, so everything about her is illuminated in a soft bask of light, making her appear almost angelic. She’s lost in the sky with a look of serenity across her face, making me grateful that she’s able to find enough peace within herself to get through today. The moon has always been her saviour—he always listened and never asked questions or begged for answers. I know how much I ruined today and I know what her heart is going through now. But I cannot even begin to explain how sorry or how rueful I’m feeling. I’ve been raised surrounded by women. I can NEVER lay a hand on one. But I did and I’ve never felt more ashamed of myself.

When Maira said, she’s feeling sick, I felt I did that to her and I wanted to apologise for everything but I remembered her pictures with Harry, the news reports, her ‘vacay’ with Harry and anger ballooned in my stomach. I know exactly what she’s feeling, because our pain is shared now and because I am madly in love with her, I also share all of her pain, heartache, sorrow, and grief. Despite this, she still stands here with me. She hasn’t left and shows no signs of doing so either. We seldom make choices for one another—to aid each other. So, in the face of the calamity that our lives are right now, there’s a warm sense of comfort surrounding me after being with her tonight. No matter what happens, I know for a fact that Maira will see me through every second of it, maybe even carrying me through at times.

“No, nothing is okay! You are a cheater.” She yells. Her drunken rambles surprise me. Maira is not one for liquor courage. I see no other emotion in her eyes, but of disgust and rage. I speculate that this is Maira’s assemblage of rant and rave of the last four years. I don’t mind her words because I am sure she surely can’t mean them. When I’ve always wanted to be with her, share her demons and maybe even show her mine, how can I be even accused of adultery?

Except, there is so much anger inside of her, that I can’t compartmentalize them correctly. “Your mouth is full of lies and every word you spit out is laced with deceit.” She snatches her arm from my grip and pushes me. I don’t react. I keep staring at my world—her. For me, Maira is art. So much colour, frustration, pureness and beauty combined into one human being it is truly amazing.

“And I still want to believe you—believe your words—even if you have reduced me to a useless pawn with a torn heart. I still seek your cold, death like soul.” She pushes me again. I can see it’s the alcohol talking. I’m trying to hold her from falling but I can’t remove my eyes from hers. Her eyes are like the mess of outer space.

There’s a look in her eyes that says she’s knows something about me or that she’s figured everything out. In her madness, she’s leaving a trail of ruin. Spitting out poison. Another push. “How can you mean everything and nothing to me all at once, huh?” Another push. She’s unpacking all the hate around her heart and pushing it on me. Another push. She pokes me directly on my heart and dryly laughts, “uh...too bad, you’re still a cheater.”

Maira begins to push me again but I grip her wrists and pulls her hands behind her, locking her in my arms. “And YOU are drunk!” I shout, finally. I want to pull her up by her shoulders and shake some sense in her that she’s probably cheating on me, NOT ME.

I feel a sharp pain in my chest exactly like the feeling when you’re sad and you no longer believe you could ever be happy; or when you’re so happy that you can’t imagine ever being sad again. I am feeling that strange emotion—that feeling of impossibility. Ha! Maira Ahluwalia. Maira. Ahluwalia. Is saying she loves me? My subconscious is looking at Harry and her Intimate, Not Appropriate for A Married Woman Photoshoot pictures with a microscope.

“You’re a cheater.” She sounds like a stuck tape. I lift my eyes off her and scan our surroundings. I cannot have people around us when Maira has completely lost it. “You’re a cheater.” I shake my head. “You’re a cheater.” A small gust of wind comes from nowhere, and she shivers a little.

“Yeah...yeah okay, are you cold?” I ask. Sometimes drunk rambles don’t mean a damn thing and sometimes they mean everything. I am only banking on the former. I have done no such thing to be labelled as something so demeaning and outright absurd. “Do you want to go back inside?” Walk away from her and her rubbish. My subconscious draws in an idea. Your partner—or anyone—doesn’t get to treat you like that. Move on to something and someone better. They say that you shouldn’t waste your energy trying to force something that isn’t meant to be, because the truth is, for every person who doesn’t value you—there are TONS more waiting to love you better, do better. So, choose wisely.

“With you?” She gives me a disgusted look and lets out a chortle, “HELL no.” She fights her way out of my grip and I let her. I begin to unbutton my coat to lay it over her shoulders, but she starts taking drunken steps backwards.

“No Maira—no,” I hold her barely by her arm before she could twist her ankle or walk on the glass she dropped. “Let me help you sit down...” I try to guide her towards one of the benches but she stays put. “Or maybe...I think you’ve had enough fun tonight,” I force her in the direction of the back entrance, “let’s go home!”

“You will not decide my level of fun. Didn’t you have your share of it?” She snaps. Wringing her hand from out of my hold she runs deeper into the garden. She stands under the only light decorated tree. Her entire face glows under the subtle yellow light. “You’re a cheater.”

“You don’t even know what you’re talking about, Maira!” I spit, walking back to her. I can sense the edge to my voice. My expression is disconcerted, alarmed even. The force of her accusations is so unexpected and disarming.

“I know exactly what I am saying.” She rolls her eyes at me and stomps at the ground loudly. Heels, saree and a drunk girl ARE a recipe for disaster, I keep thinking. “You really should make up your mind and—oh wait, you already did!” She stumbles, but holds onto the tree.

“Maira—”

“And Zaahid, let me just put it this way: you either like me or you don’t.” She points a finger at me. “It has taken me far too long to love myself, I cannot invest that much time to convince you too.”

“I like you. I do.” I shake my head and agree to whatever she says, mostly because its true. Also, Maira needs to shut up. ASAP. “Come darling, let’s get you home. We can’t have someone hear you, yeah?”

“Stop it!” Maira angrily shouts and walks up to a bench to sit. “I know you don’t. I’ve seen it with my eyes. I just didn’t know it’ll hurt this bad.” Whatever is going on in her mind, it’s obvious it is an unpleasant concept to her.

“What?” I am shocked. Maira runs a hand through her bun, undoing quite a few strands which fall effortlessly on her face. “No! I like you. Seriously.” I coo to her. I am on my knees in front of her.

She sarcastically laughs, “And guess what? A) I either bloat myself or starve myself. B) I either hibernate for an entire week or have insomniac nights. C) I either fall in love very hard and give it my all or hate passionately. D) I either stay completely loyal or cheat and move out of a relationship. I don’t know what grey is. I am not familiar with that middle ground you sit comfortably on. I never did.”

I hear her, every word of her rant but I can focus only on how her sentences start with ‘and,’ as if what she is verbalising is some logical continuations of her innermost thoughts. I feel her walls have tumbled down and maybe this time, we’ll do ‘love’ right. “Maira, I lo—” I love you.

“Yeah it really shows.” She dismisses my attempts to clear any misunderstanding. She stands up and walks past me. I quickly follow suit because I cannot afford Maira spilling the beans to anyone.

“Okay,” I grab her arm, “enough is enough, Maira.” I make her face me. “We’re leaving.” I assert authoritatively. “If someone hears you—” I control my agitated anger, “one wrong word from you will blow our act of the last four years. I cannot let one drunk night do that kind of damage.”

“And I cannot let a cheater manipulate me!” Maira wails. My grip hardens in caveat. I know my fingers are digging in her skin. “Leave,” she pants, “me.” Each word is a staccato. She fights, “I will be going nowhere with you,” and pushes me off her.

“What is this even about?” I hold my hands in the air. I am two feet away from her.

“Really now? You tricked me!” Maira disgustedly says. I hear news reports of Harry and her, on vacations, on dates, on photoshoots in my mind. And I have had enough. For what its worth, my love for her is being insulted by all her stupid allegations.

“And you’ve been tricking me from the start!” I defend myself, referring to all the times I have taken a back seat on her priority list.

“You don’t say!” Maira shouts, kicking one clay planter pot. The air feels heavy with the question of trust looming over us. She takes wobbly steps forward but then settles down on the ground.

I keep my eyes on her from my position. My God, you’re so beautiful. It hurts to know that you will never look at me the way I look at you. “Did you hurt yourself?” I ask. I don’t hate her, I never will. I just act like I do, because it’s easier than admitting that I miss her. She shakes her head. “Anyway, that’s it. You win. Congrats. Let’s go home.” I take careful steps towards her and then stoop down next to her.

“No, we have both lost.” She turns her head to look at me.

“What have you lost?”

“You.” Sadness swipes through Maira’s eyes and she tilts her head to look at the moon. I am stunned by her confession. Is she telling me, she loves me? This girl will not let me settle for anything less than extraordinary.

I draw in a deep breath. “Oh—” and I envision a flash of life with Maira. Where lovers like us slow dance in the streets, send flowers in offices and are unapologetically honest. We also stay together because we want to be there and because relationships are 50/50.

“For a moment I started to believe something could happen between us. Something real.” Maira dryly smiles, then reaches over and takes my hand in hers. “That we could move on from the past and start afresh.”

“That we could trust one another, go out on dinner like everyone else, without having to put on a show for the camera reels.” She continues. Everything about her causes my lungs to fail and my heart to go into overdrive. I have a feeling if she smiles at me, I’d be sold. I understand that life is too short, and we are too young and too beautiful and too worth it to settle for a love that’s not at par.

“Although I’d take a stay-in night over going out anyday. So that you could cook your dal rice for me, which by the way is disgusting.” Maira gives me a funny look, but her expressions are wistful. I have often questioned if soul mates are out there, but today, I know, they are. Mine is sitting before me and yours is just waiting for you. [listen to this carefully] soul mates are real, and love is something you can believe in. Promise me that you will believe in it.

My heart is a big puddle of mush right now, and I’m trying not to grin. It’s really pathetic and sad. I shake my head. I allow her to speak because I have lost my voice. “I don’t know, I even thought for a moment that we could forget all this and have a future together.” Maira softly says. I can’t believe her words. It is better than anything I could have imagined.

I understand that we’re always meant to be with the person who show us what real, complicated love is. The person we’re meant to be with should terrify us because they’re different and have a newer perspective than ours and because scary is a change, a challenge, and both of those things will help us grow. What the hell else is our purpose on this earth than to love and love foolishly, fearlessly, fully?

“How stupid of me, huh?” Maira shifts to turn towards me so that our faces are only inches apart. I am too dazed by her confession. I know love is never easy and that’s the most beautiful part of it and that she is the only person who has changed my life. And in a world where we’re all searching for the love that will alter our entire lives, mine’s waiting for me and I am going to get it.

I lean closer in to tentatively kiss her but she tucks her head into my neck and I put my arm around her shoulder. After sitting quietly for a minute or so, her body stiffens and she lifts her head up and says, “you look so innocent, but you aren’t really.” She drops my arm from her shoulder and begins to stand up, “you’ve been lying to my face the entire time.”

“Maira, stop it!” I plead. All dreams of a happy ever after crumble.

“You remember? I am not even exaggerating. It’s unbelievable.” She winces.

“You don’t talk about ‘loyalty’ please.” I hold up my hand. I cannot hear more about MY adultery, MY mistakes and MY loyalty. I think we need to start talking about HER loyalty.

“Wow, how entitled of you to put this on me, Unfortunately, you are a total trash. Should I call her a ‘home-wrecker’ Barbie?” Maira’s expressions are ferocious. She stares at me with burning red eyes.

“Maira, what are you even TALKING about?” I get up. “By the way, you’re no saint.” I take two steps towards her, but she takes four back. Her eyes widen with caution and suddenly she looks so tired and my heart constricts. “You act like this fundamentalist when in reality, you do much more than clicking photos with your co-stars.” My heart can’t keep up with our changing dynamics. Where does love go when lovers break up?

“Don’t play dumb, Zaahid. I should’ve taken a video. I know how brown people love their soap operas.” Maira lashes at me, raising a finger. Her anger towards me is hurtful. I feel heartbroken—obsessed with keeping our love alive. I am so misunderstood and my love feels tested and unlived.

“Maira, keep it low.” I rush to her and hold her by her arms. “A) I ACTUALLY don’t know what you’re upset about. B) I don’t care and C) You’re not some angel fallen from heaven and all others are depraved.” Where do broken hearts go? I need a closure. Love is not time that it passes. Feelings once created, always mold from one person to another. They are like energy, always lingering in the air—hoping to find its way back to the person, wandering to get back home.

She finds her way out of my grip. “Of course! Who’s watching?” She claps her hands loudly. “Are we in our Let’s Pretend element again?” Maira takes a stiff turn, full of grace and arrogance rolled into one. “But you know what Zaahid, I am done. I am ABSOLUTELY done.” I cannot recognize this Maira. Where is the one, I love? I miss the old us. This new us doesn’t even stand a chance. I know a smart mouth like hers’ wouldn’t stop anytime soon until of course one of us gets hurts by the words we utter.

I can feel the blood pounding in my ears. My mouth goes dry. “We should talk once we get home.” I quietly say. Love failed is not love lost. Being heartbroken is breathtaking, as it is love in its purest form. I’ve put Maira before myself time and again but now maybe it’s time to tuck that love back into myself and move forward. I need to live; there’s so much more to discover and see than her charcoal eyes.

“Love is supposedly very beautiful but it also turns you into someone very selfish.”

“I don’t know what we’re doing.” I take in a deep breath. I’m losing all hope for a reconciliation. Finding a soul mate is beautiful, yes, but finding yourself is life changing. So, here is where love goes when we break up with lovers: it never dies or leaves, it just lives underneath our feelings.

Maira takes wobbly steps forward and clutches my collar, “Sometimes, you convince yourself that you love someone, you idolize them, but suddenly they do something and in an instant, that image you’ve created of them crumbles, and the love takes a bullet. And the more frequently that happens, the more you start seeing them for what they really are.” Her face twists into an expression of rage.

“If this is about what happened in the bedroom, Maira, then I promise to you, I’ll change. I will make this better. And I am truly, very sorry.” I join both of hands and beg her. I hate the cracking in my voice.

She laughs, “your clothes maybe...” and mutters after sniffing me. She lets go off my collar roughly, like I have some disease and it might rub off on her.

“Maira, no, I will—”

“Please don’t give me that psychobabble of yours.”

“Psychobabble?”

“You’ve always tricked me. You’ve always used me as if I were your ‘claim to fame’ or some ‘she’ll-make-it-better’ commodity. I thought you loved me!” Maira’s eyes are wild, and she is breathing hard. We stand facing each other, unsure of where to go next. We’ve never been here before.

“I d—” I almost begin to defend my argument but my voice choked up and heart is hurting and I cannot, cannot even speak or breathe or be. After what seems like an eternity, I finally speak. “Do you know how rare it is to desire someone with all your heart and for them to reciprocate? That’s sheer luck and I haven’t been that lucky.”

Maira’s expression change from fury to despair, “I don’t know who the hell you are anymore.” She begins sobbing quietly, holding her face in her hands.

There are times when loving somebody means remaining silent; when you have to refuse to light the match even though the words burn in your chest like gasoline and moonshine. So, I allow Maira, her space.

//

The evening glow is now replaced by the inky darkness of the night. The air has grown colder. Autumn coloured leaves carpet the ground and more keep falling with each strong wind. The moonlight makes everything picturesque. The leaves are crisp and crunch under our feet as we prod on it. The noise is oddly satisfying. An owl’s hooting disturbs our peace. Maira falters along the cobble stone sidewalk, shuffling the fallen leaves with every step she takes.

“You know how I am always the eye of a storm, don’t you?” Maira said bitterly. “I will always bring destruction and shake the person you thought you were. I would bring out the best and worst in you.” I wince at the shrillness of her voice. She crunches her nose and I can see the whiskey is slowing down her thoughts. I hold out my hands for her, but she takes steps away.

It is unbearable. My nerves are already shot, and this is way too much. I cannot believe this is what she thinks of me. She doesn’t give me time to interrupt. “But I’d always bring immense calmess in your life after it all.” Maira raises her voice and I run to her to keep it low. We stand too close to the house walls.

“So, when you thought you loved me didn’t you realise the madness of the world we lived in? Did you think we could lead separate parallel lives from our celebrity reality? Did you honestly believe that we’d make it time and again after everything you did?” Maira roughly holds me and twists us around. I look at her awfully sad eyes and for the first time since we met...I think I actually understand her. All of her. She doesn’t react the way she does because there are five different sides to her personality. She reacts the way she does because there’s only one side to Maira Ahluwalia.

Passionate.

She’s passionate about love, about life and about her art. And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t just added to her list. The intensity with which she conveys isn’t unnerving...it’s beautiful. I’ve gone too long being numb of living but seeing the enthusiasm behind her eyes right now...it makes me want to feel every single thing about life. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the pleasure, the pain. I want that. I want to start feeling life the same way she does. And my first step to doing so starts with, this magical woman in front of me who’s pouring her heart out, taking her home safely.

“I know you’re capable of a lot of things but I absolutely did not expect you to sleep around.” Maira grits her teeth. I disgust her.

“No, I did not!” I angrily shout. “And I don’t intend to either.”

I don’t know what we’re trying to achieve from this conversation. I don’t know why we’re having it here, in Harry’s garden. But I’m appreciating the honesty that is dripping out of her. Perhaps we wanted to create some kind of commotion, something to break the monotony that we had developed. Like the boy who cried wolf, tricking the nearby villagers for his own amusement.

Whatever the reason, the conversation is causing a chain of events that I did not foresee. It always boils down to the December Night. I have no doubt that our life and the lives of everyone connected with us would have been different if that night had never happened. If I had only lied and married Penelope or maybe if I’d let the truth slip away without the opportunity to persist, like a brewing storm, pushed out to the ocean, to disintegrate over the twitchy waves.

“I saw it with my own eyes, Zaahid.” Maira calmly speaks. I feel like she’s made up her mind about me. “You didn’t love me—you don’t love me, but I love you. I’ve made sacrifices for us. I stayed in this abusive relationship for you. I take your shit because I’ve traveled thousands of miles away from the shreds of a person I was before you.” I shake my head, trying to understand her response. The regret in her voice is causing my heart to race against my chest.

I somehow find strength to speak, despite the fear consuming me. “No, Maira I lov—”

Maira cuts in. She’s a fighter, she really is. It’s like the alcohol has finally set her free. No one can stop her saying her mind. “Loving you, being with you, made me better, Zaahid. Together, we were an indestructible team. You have been such an essential part of my healing and I will never be able to repay you for it, but I have my limits too. I cannot be okay with you treating me like trash. Like something undeserving or maybe even too hard to love—”

“Stop saying you love me! I’ve grown sick of lies!” I lividly lash out. I’ve had enough. My silence doesn’t signify my guilt. My feelings channelize through anger because I was born that way. I grip her arms, turn around, and sensibly knock her back against the cold wall. “It’s me who is mourning for something beautiful we once shared, ended tragically, because of you!” My voice is tight as I glare at her. For several moments I rein in my temper.

“Because of me—” Maira looks horrified. She gazes at me with wide eyes as if she can’t comprehend what I just said. It’s as if I just said two plus two is five.

“Yes!” I spat at her, never loosening my grip on her arms despite the fight she is putting with me. I glower at her.

“Zaahid, you wanted me to be in a relationship with you when you were already with someone! What did you promise, huh?” Maira stops to catch her breath while wincing in pain from my grip. I fall silent, and she knew her words were like a slap in the face.

My mouth twists, doubting her words, and my brow creases because what she is saying is painful to hear. “I’m a mess of a person, Maira, but I’m loyal and I’ll love you with everything I have,” Maira mocks and quotes my words. I press my mouth in a hard line. I know Maira’s acting on whiskey induced impulse but this is a below the belt blow.

“Ouch, Zaahid leave me!” Maira yells this time when the pressure becomes too much. She kicks her feet and tries to push me off her. It does little to simmer the anger pulsating within me. Instead, it fuels me more. She narked me and I want to irk her too. I narrow my eyes at her and tighten my hold.

I can feel my ears turning pink in anger. Boy...I’m madly furious. “Why shouldn’t I teach you the definition of loyalty?” Maira spats, disgust shadowing her features. “You never have been one, you aren’t even today!” She grips my collar and attempts to dig her nails in my skin. “You proposed to me the NIGHT before you had to marry Penelope!” Maira shrieks. I am traumatized by the twinge and rage within her.

“You should have just married her then...it would have kept me from waking up to your infidelity.” Maira completely breaks down, sobbing and clutching at my shirt. My heart clenches like a fist in my chest. I had no idea it would hurt this much. My mind goes back through the years like a person dying. “I have always just been an in-between time for you, Zaahid. I’ve been an infatuation—a distraction from your one true love.”

“Not an ounce of truth there, Maira, look at me.” I say. “Look at me.” I lift her face with my fingers, “I’ve always adored you. I’ve always waited on you to come rushing back and I never gave up on us."

“And through all the ups and downs we have faced together, not once has my love for you faltered or been unfaithful.” My voice is harsh but I can’t believe that I have to explain this to Maira. Didn’t she always know? I hold a vice-like grip on her arms. She needs to get this straight—I loved her and she walked away and within minutes, I lost two of my closest people. And amidst it all, mum kept saying how Maira betrayed Penelope’s friendship. How it was all her fault.

“Can’t you see Maira caused this?”

“She should’ve moved out of your house once her career kickstarted!”

“I’m sure, she’d been planning this.”

“Look what a fool she’s made out of you. She’s played her cards, Zaahid. But don’t you worry if your happiness lies with her, I will get you married.”

“But I’m warning you, Maira, has too much attitude. She’s trouble, hard to love, understand and control.”

Mum made Maira look like a nightmare, but once I calmed down and understood things as they were it was too late, we were eleven months into the marriage and communication was lost. Women like Maira, the ones with too much fire inside need something else. They need a little more soul, a little more truth and above all, a little more love. And when I almost understood that love can’t be forced, she’d chosen Harry over me. It pinched me so bad.

“Stop it Zaahid! Stop trying to sugarcoat the truth, stop making everything sound so reasonable, so selfless.” Maira, wrestles out of my grip and walks along the side walls of the house. I trail behind her. “You cannot supposedly love me because you’re lonely or because I conveniently fill in the void for someone else’s absence.”

“I lov—” I begin but Maira turns to face me then.

“If you love me, will you be okay if I say that I lie sometimes, that I love to sleep too much and that I don’t like children above the age of six, really. I love petrichor and I often know what the air smells like before a storm but this—” Maira lifts her eyes to me. Her red eyes continuously seethe is my adultery.

“I would.”

“I never thought I’d ever have to see this day. I’m trying to be brave and smart but it’s almost impossible to be both at the same time.” Maira is frustrated more than ever by now. The moonlight falling on her face makes the throbbing in my chest go in lights speed.

“Zaahid, my skies are grey with and without you, I cannot keep looking up and hope. Even if we ever get past this and you decide to genuinely fall in love with me, I can guarantee that there’s only a fifty percent chance that this will work out, before either of us winds up hating the other.” Maira shouts. She is very mad. Her eyes are stormy and flashing.

A few beats later, she unravels. Sobs rack through her body and she starts to shake. I cup her face in my hands but she starts to punch me in my chest, pushing me off roughly, slapping my torso until I hold her wrists above her head. “How do I fall back in love with you if I haven’t ever stopped?!” The damage love has done to Maira and I is now our solace. This discomfort allows sweetest words in honey dipped voices, break our hearts in a way that no one can piece it together. We are two broken souls in love and maybe our crooked pieces are exactly what make us fit together so perfectly, just like a puzzle.

But Maira’s too drunk to make sense of anything. I’m loving the way she’s looking at me like all the stars are in my eyes. “I have looked at you in a million different ways and I have loved you in each,” she says in a voice that’s just above a whisper. Long black lashes line her charcoal eyes like velvet ribbons on a delicately wrapped gift and every time she opens them, it feels like Christmas.

With those eyes she looks up at me, longing for an answer, her eyes are buried in a deep sea of hope and all I can do is, stare at her. She’s painted in the most fluorescent colours. The pallet God used to create her literally made Picasso shed a tear. She is in fact a string of letters placed delicately in heart-wrenching poems in a universe that’s still learning it’s a to z. I don’t say a thing because if I do, I know my voice would betray me. I am in love with her. I’m completely and absolutely in love with her.

So, I begin to walk away from her when I hear her speak with a voice much more composed. “I am not your five-minute cigarette break; you cannot light me up when you’re in the mood, and put me out when you’re tired.” The quiver in her voice is evident but an icy rage lines her tone. She can smash my head off or gauge my eyes out like what The Red Viper did to Oberyn Martell.

“You’ve never been my knock around getaway. In fact, you’ve been the best thing that’s happened to me but who would’ve thought you’d also turn out to be one of the worst!” I growl, gripping Maira’s arms harder and pinning her to the wall harsher than the first time. “It’s you. It’s you. It’s been you for as long as I can remember. Everyone else has just been another failed attempt at perfecting the art of not being you. I miss you.” I breathe harshly in her face. My eyes are narrow and cautious. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up in attention.

“Regardless of your opinion about me, for me, you were it. It was you. It is you and it will always be you. I love you! I love you damn it! I love you! I love—”I yell but I am cut off from my monologue by a pair of lips. Maira kisses me, without warning, without permission. I think without even thinking, without even deciding to do it, but simply because she couldn’t have done anything else.

My brain is on fire and warmth spreads through my entire body. I have found my new drug. Maira is my salvation. The kiss is like a beginning, a promise of much more to come. I wish to be forever locked into the present. I don’t want the kiss to end. Drunk on endorphins, I desire to hold her perfect softness. We match each other’s ragged breaths and her kisses steal the words I didn’t have to speak and, in this moment, we have laid ourselves bare—all of our passion, and the spark of love. When we take a breather, she looks up at me with a tear stained face and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s just like the movies.

For that single moment time stops. I don’t care where we are and who’s around us. It’s just me and her. Maira parts her mouth to prepare to belt out the loudest scream she can muster but she doesn’t make a sound. The muffled sobs wrack against her chest. I let go of her hands but she continues to hold them above her head. I brush her hair away from her face, tucking a lock of it behind her ear before placing a tentative kiss on her cheek. Maira lifts her head to lean closer to mine and I kiss her full on the mouth, long and hard.

I kissed my way slowly down her neck and I felt a violent jolt somewhere below my abdomen. Maira smells like early spring and tastes like sunflower yellow—all honey and heaven. As we kiss again and again, I get tingles all over and I now know exactly why no other woman could ever satisfy me, because only Maira can bring out these feelings. I let out a deep breath and pull away from her gently.

The last of painful emotion slams against her and then she loses the feeling of feeling. First, her head leans on her shoulder and then her hands fall down like dead weights. When her body drops on mine, I understand that Maira has passed into the oblivion of unconsciousness. WHAT? My inner god stands horrified on the podium where he’s about to be crowned the Luckiest Man in The World. Maira passed out in my arms, after a kiss. How blissful. How wonderful. My inner god can’t hold the smirk spreading like wild fire.

Without a second thought, I lift her off the ground, discreetly walk upto our car and drive away.

//

Inside the house, I take her straight to the washroom and make her sit. Her soiled saree from the whiskey and cold October winds demand a dress change. Also, mum is coming over tomorrow, so I cannot risk a miscalculated step. I fetch her pyjamas and overthink if I should change her clothes. What would she think of me! That I took advantage of her? No, you’re being unreasonable. The house can’t stink of whiskey when mum is here. I stall it by removing her heels and hairpins and saree pins. I further stall time by changing my own clothes. Eventually, I hesitantly work my way through undressing and re-dressing Maira. I don’t let my eyes waver.

The moonshine diffuses through the curtains, illuminating the room enough for me to gaze at Maira. The cold rage and wrath she broadcasted just a few hours ago seem to have never happened. She is elated right now; I can feel it. When we lie in bed, side by side, a sense of belonging blooms within me. The world makes sense to me because her hand fits in mine and her ideas fuel my own and suddenly life is brighter and the days are longer and the nights are easier to bare because we are together—both better than apart. And this is good. Pure perfect good. This is happiness. This is truth. This is our love.

Maira snuggles in close to me, entangling her leg with mine and resting her hand on my chest. I put my arm under her head as she cuddles in closer and closer. My heart beat increases and I hitch in a breath. Each breath feels like a tide drawing in and drawing out, carrying my rowboat heart to shore. I put my hand on hers when she clutches my collar. She is so beautiful yet so sad. Always saying no one will ever love her, and yet when somebody tells her that they love her she runs and hides. Silly girl, they love you, you just don’t love yourself.

The blanket pools around us. I hold one of her hands and wrap the other around her. My subconscious and my inner god are pleased and proud of this. Surely, this is the only thing on which three have agreed without me trying to pursue either. “I love you,” Maira whispers as if sleep is fighting to silence the words. Her sweet nothings sweep over me like restless waves.

All my ambiguities regarding Maira, from today, are going to slowly fade away. I am now aware of her priorities and I value how she chose me. Tomorrow’s dawn will be our new beginning. I revel in the new found glow of tomorrow’s promise, where Maira and I make it. I draw aimless circles on her shoulders now. I can’t even begin to sleep. I don’t think I would tonight. Maira’s peacefully breathing is a welcome distraction. She is lightly snoring too. I stare at the blank ceiling while my personal moon is tucked in by my side.

I kiss Maira’s hair, “Good night, sleep tight. Think of me as I hold you tight.” And after a really long time I take in deep calming breaths. I feel lighter, like an elephant’s foot has been lifted off my chest. People always say ‘opposites attract’ but I knew we could only make it thus far, because we were fire and ice. Soon, she burned out and I melted. And tonight, only for a few breathtaking moment, fire and ice could coexist with star crossed passion.

Sleep comes like the falling of an axe, now, and I allow it to wrap me in its embrace. I appreciate why Maira and I stuck it out because she’s a wildflower. She’s art, music and vivid colours. Maira can’t be attained or contained. The admiration of essence has to be only treasured, not controlled.



NOTE

Someday I’ll be long gone and you’ll be singing the same song.

“But you’ve become, somebody else ‘round everyone else, watching your back like you can’t relax. You’re tryin’ to be cool. You look like a fool to me. Tell me why’d you have to go and make things so complicated, I see the way you’re acting like you’re somebody else, gets me frustrated.” Song: Compliacted by Olivia O’Brien

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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