Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Final Bonfire

She woke up and felt the other side of the bed. It was cold.

Her eyes fluttered open and she sat up with a start. He was gone. The other side of the bed will always stay cold. Sweat broke out and beaded her upper lips and the forehead. Her eyes clenched shut and tears leaked out unbidden.

This had to stop. Everyone said time heals but, here time had only cut the wound deeper. She got up from the bed and sat back on top of it - still with eyes shut in concentration. A new day needed to be faced. Everyone needed to know that things were fine.

Why did he run away? No one perhaps could answer why people behave the way they do. So, no point asking. Another woman, another city, another bed, a new pillow. These are realities of life for him.

No amount of research could answer such questions. Slowly she got up from the bed and put her feet into the waiting slippers. A whole day stretched out in front of her and she had to survive it without the comfort of work stress because it was a Sunday!

She'd be expected to laugh, smile and behave like nothing was wrong. She'd be expected to go out shopping, meet relatives and friends and maybe even go out for movies and brunch when all she wanted to do was to fall back in bed, pull up the covers and cry to sleep.

When would this end? At first she had thought, it would be a matter of weeks, that stretched to months and then years. Life seemed like an endless moment spent waiting for that one note, call or knock on the door...

The idea of a knock on the door was equally scary. It meant letting him enter again but, there was a thrill in anticipation. That anticipation had kept her going for ages now. Hair turning grey, one strand at a time while the fine lines around her eyes turned into crows feet.

In her quest to change her Karma she tried saving the world, one person at a time but, either the world was too large with too many unhappy people or her Karma was too deep and wanted more. Like a huge monster seeking more sacrifices, like a bonfire refusing to burn because there was not enough wood to get it going.

She sat back on the sofa with a thud. It shook her out if the reverie. He left her and went off. Why was she still sitting where it all started? There had been no closures and that was the reality. Only second hand information had come to her fluttering out of an empty sky that had pushed the earth away from under her feet.

He was gone. Was living with someone else. Was dating a blonde. Was seen drinking with friends at a party. Information kept filtering in, pictures on other friends' social networking Walls showed the truth in multi-colored hues but, for her it was a blank wall. A huge and tough wall that seemed insurmountable. How does one get over a life without closure?

She sighed. A long sad sound and a gush of wind worked its way out of her nostril squeezing her lungs in the process. Her head already hurt and eyes were warm from tears threatening to spill out.

This was like a fever that refused to subside. This kind of thing should be illegal. She pulled up a pen and a writing pad from the coffee table and started scribbling words into it. Words that meant nothing. Words that were disjointed and meaningless like her life. Words that held no promises nor any meaning like her existence.

She scratched the page one last time and then, threw the pad and the pen away. They hit the wall in front making a small scratchy noise and fluttered to the floor.

She got up with a determination to end something. This lethargy to end things, this eternal wait for a closure was killing her one breath at a time.

She walked to the closet she never opened because it was still waiting for him to arrive and started taking everything off the hangers and throwing things onto the floor. With one fell swoop she threw all the folded shirts and underwear into the growing pile and then, went to the bathroom to take out the brush, the aftershave lotion and the forlorn tongue cleaner that had been gathering dust in a corner for three years now. She took them all out in a clutch and threw them into the pile near the closet. Next came the shoes, some stationary, then the letters and cards that spoke of love!

She looked at them aghast! How could someone have written so much about love and left without a note or a goodbye?

Tears fell unbidden, non-stop, they rushed down her face like a waterfall down a mountain face. It was incredible to even think that there was so much anger, so much sadness, so much loss yet-to-be written-off still a part of her life. The tears meanwhile, meandered down her cheeks and into her neck, soaking up the front of her blouse. Some of it fell straight down and into the scraps of paper clutched in her hands and soaked them up. First the wet paper wilted then, the ink ran-off coloring her hands blue and red from the caricature drawn on a piece of tissue with the name of a restaurant printed on one side. Reminder of their anniversary - a happy occasion.

She saw through the curtain of her tears, the papers melting like a thousand dreams she had built in that life with him. A dam broke loose somewhere and she grabbed as much as she could from the pile on the floor, taking it to the terrace upstairs.

She made a few trips up and down and took everything that belonged to him to the terrace and put it in a neat pile. She added the shoes, ties, handkerchiefs, gel, half-used bottles of deodorants and perfumes and finally his certificates and other important papers to the pile.

She arranged from a pile of bricks a boundary around the stuff that belonged to him and then, picked up his bottles of expensive Scotch. Opening one, she inhaled deeply into it. It brought back memories of nights spent in happiness and bliss. Tears threatened to flow. Removing the bottle from her nose, she moved it to her lips and drank deeply from it.

It burnt an errant path down her throat and the next moment a warmth that she knew was not real spread around her. It dimmed the edges of her sorrows and gave her a courage that made her feel invincible. Holding the bottle in a deathly clutch, she looked at the pile in front of her and spit on it.

She remembered all the broken promises, the lies that had changed her life and roared to the sky, kicking the pile of his things in disgust and anger. Love had died long ago and found a home in hope of a better tomorrow. Only she had held on to nothing when she had also expected nothing. How could she have done something like this to herself?

She took another swig and downed the neat drink in one gulp. Her face contorted in disgust and her throat burned. She opened her watering eyes and spit once more into the pile and kicked at the expensive, hand-made Italian leather loafers she had bought him.

How can people play with others lives? What kind of a man was I living with?

Disgust opened the locked doors of her heart that was holding on to false hopes. She remembered the slap and the black eye that she had sported for more than a month telling everyone how she had hurt herself when an auto-rickshaw she was travelling in had braked all of a sudden.

Her heart, her disgusting heart wanted to go back to the happy times when, they had held hands and made love and he had fought with others for her. It reminded her of the times he had cooked and cleaned-up because he was jobless and she was working as well as keeping the house. Tears flowed down her cheeks again when she thought how she had worried in the initial days as to how he'd be taking care of himself. What a fool she'd been. Had he ever even spared a thought for her?

Disgusted by her heart's pleas, she threw the half-finished bottle of expensive Scotch into the pile and then, went ahead to empty the rest of the four bottles into the heap.

The air reeked of alcohol. She pulled out a matchbox she had carried up from her pocket. It also had belonged to him three years back. She added the stack of DVDs and music albums into the alcohol-soaked pile and threw a lighted stick into it. The reaction was instantaneous. The whole pile caught fire in a second and lighted up all that belonged to him.

As the fire burnt brighter she staggered back a little towards the wall and her hands fell on a pile of photo albums. She knew what was in it. An entire lifetime. Five years of make-believe. She did not even flip through it. Just hurled it into the bonfire and watched it being licked into ashes.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The words from a funeral of a friend's mother suddenly echoed inside her mind. Was this the closure her soul needed to move on?

She peered into the fire that was now a blaze like the one she had seen at so many funerals. So, this is what death felt like?

She settled down on the hard terrace floor to watch the blaze that ate up the corpse of her lost life, her lost love.

She was finally at peace. Tears fell down her cheeks. But, these were tears of mourning, tears for a final closure.

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