Guwahati,

Fiction

Infrequent Reality

 Lost objects crowd upon me, I am possibly looking for something, though someone else may find it just a minute before me, but I say nothing, I cannot deny someone else's expectation of finding that something. But my silences in between are awkwardly long, sluggishly slower. These are coincidences that serve as distractions from making a discovery that has taken me years to come upon it. Now that the thing is lost, am I going to be set free? Like a photograph falling out of a frame that had held it within its for periphery. I cannot pick it up and shove it back into that frame again, it is now something dated, not even an experiment worth safekeeping. I may keep it as a secret when something died in me though virtually, apparently everything around me seems so complete, whole, undivided. I have started to wear a mask of a kind, possibly a gold mask whose shimmer will easily hide my mutilated passions. I may wear an inscription that very few can decipher, because there are no witnesses who were aware of what I have been going through - torn, humiliated asunder for being a woman. Just that.

I shall not allow anyone to trudge over this site of my conflicting hieroglyphs, I cannot modify my past, nor can I interrogate them; they too are dead as a sheet of plastic gone awry at the edges that cannot foretell my future. I do not wish to exaggerate the intensity of those aberrations because each one is distinct, individual; second to none. Some of them are like mere fading sketches that I cannot define, they have probably degenerated into mere nothings by now, forgotten almost. Yet there exists a small window by my side that will give me glimpses of those everything, like a beggar frequenting garbage heap looking for something valuable, reusable in them. I standalone among the ruins of my memories waiting for the touch of a light to make me to come alive again. Amen.
I cannot keep out of the night when he says to me for the first time - I've to go. This is the only way for me. A lump somehow suddenly grows enormously in me; I feel it raw, acute, and sensitive. It is more than a mere blister. Do you really want to go away from me? I dread the answer more than the question.
Yes, you can say so.
Full stop.
There are not many people I can say this to: I am unable to move for a while, I am neither standing nor walking but a strange strong pounding noise rumbles inside trying to raise it to a loud crescendo or is it a four-legged creature straining forward, its tail up and outward, mouth wide open, wanting to let out a loud yell at 32 degrees angle? I am indeed ready to jump off an edge: I may sound rather predatory and yes that's how I am feeling just as a rabbit feels a moment before a boa constrictor wants to swallow it up. This is a singular, uninhibited instinct that I have never felt before. And for the first time too, I become afraid to hope. Because all of them die prematurely with this one full sentence - I've to go. 
The sentence is already beginning to seduce me in spite of all my restrictions to oppose it. I am unable to say to him -Please don't go. I am aware though of other things happening in our ordinary doings and undoing, the cacophony of commonplace words, the gas stove and its smell of dead oil simmering to burn for some more time, the inadequate light from the fluorescent light bulb above our bed; they do not distract me, they are where they must be and yet something comes between me and this sentence.
I am sitting before the white bare canvas, pick up the palette; the colors have dried up from the previous use. I want to see me bleed on this whiteness; this will be the best way to say it all. May be, he will see me all in red like this and then see everything.
He interrupts - I need to see my roommates. I must say goodbye to them.
I jump and the smooth line suddenly quivers losing a definite mark. A blotch, a smear, is it now? He can go without saying a word to me; will it really matter when he is finally gone?
Gone
Gone
Gone
Instead, I say - Just have a look at this. I am trying to finish this but can't unless you say when or where to stop. Do you think I need to add some other color to this?
Hmmm - He says - Let me see. This doesn't look like any of the images you have been working on lately. This looks more like a creature with a terrible chest pain. You could do without the grimace on that face.
I wait, take two deep breaths and say - This isn't such a good day to begin anything new. Don't you think so?
He adds - It is the weather, I guess. You never feel right during the summer heat. The hot air always made you feel so clumsy.
I need a few more days to finish it. I wish you will stay until then - I add a little dispassionately, the appeal however is already inside it.
He continues without listening - I am sure this painting has nothing to do with me, it will be okay as it is.
I sigh in a non-committal way. I know it is a hopeless suggestion, a rather useless refrain of repeated requests.
There are some things that I can't do alone. I need you by my side, my dear - I say, a gentle touch, perhaps here and there. I feel so frugal, so spent, like never before. I must learn to say goodbye to him soon enough. But will I?
I turn towards the blood-smeared canvas: I want to be soft and tender towards it, like a healer or somebody. Sometimes even children grow up but do grownups need more growing up too? Presumably not. The sweetness of the first shuffling feet towards indefinite innumerable steps remain always only in the memory. I want to do a life-size portrait and bring together a two-sided image together at one place. May be like two silhouettes merging into one another. I keep trying but manage to create four, six or more and strangely miss doing the two together. Perhaps, my knowledge of the other in the two is inadequate? May be, I need to study both width-wise, strength-wise and otherwise? Or vis-à-vis one another? And then later, glue them together. I try to kneel and catch a better perspective, but in the next moment; I am on a five foot-tall stand to get an overview of the whole thing, like a mother bird perched on a thin twig. Finally, I come down to measure a three-fourth of the profile of one in relation to the one-half of the other; head, torso and the legs, they look very large while the two eyes crinkle showing cobwebs on either ends. Though I work grid by grid, this is truly a disproportionate image. One simply doesn't merge with the other. Each has to remain separate within its own nucleus. I look at the two legs; they are though limbs that carry a person from one place to another but I don't wish to see these feet walk away from me. And yet I clearly see a pair of feet growing large and strong learning to run at quick speed.  I will now need a quart of new paint to draw this into a life-size thing. Now however it does not look like it is the right size; the muscles in the middle of the broad brow have a deep frown: Have I made a mistake in reading his face? I have seen it all, the side of his broad cheeks, the way his under lip curls cruelly when he wants to speak a harsh word and the two strong shoulder blades that should promise me a smooth embrace. I somehow don't wish to notice the hollows in them, and instead I want to highlight the thick stylized brows with a deep color. I know it holds some thoughts in their crevices. I fill the hollows with a light tan to layer on top. This should be a good start. A sudden rush of energy is running towards me.
More than two hours have passed.
Time for his return: I guess he is probably occupied with signing the farewell slips. I wonder what he is writing on them. Perhaps that he wants to be left alone and then it makes me wonder if my constraints have ever bothered him much. Does he want to move quietly out of the cycle of my sighs, the unsurprising ends of my daily routine of few chatting hours out of doors? If so, I will never let it show. I cannot let him know of my dread of losing him: But do I make him sad because of the way I am now? I never expect him to answer this; I wish only to see his glad face. He should never be a mystery to me. I know too much to call him a stranger. I am very wary of not leaving too much mark on him, especially the sad ones.  It will certainly kill my joy.
Suddenly, he walks in saying - Smells like spring; are you making a cherry pie for me tonight?
All that I smell is the salt from my kohl-eyed tears.  It will be about time. Time to leave:  And then I will have no one to wait for at the door.
It is just dark all over. All colors on my canvas come to stop forever.
Full stop.
And I don't want to remember what will happen hereafter.