Hello dear reader!! This post is the second part of Forgotten Lanes – a long story on Banjara. If you haven’t read the first part, I suggest you first read it here.
Few weeks ago, I had stumbled upon an old diary of mine. A diary I used to scribble my ramblings in. There was nothing outstanding about the diary, except that it gave me a good reality check. Two years ago I had written a long narrative about how I was crumbled with the weight of my anxieties and how I had called out to you for help but you had left me feeling desolate. I was in shambles. And that day when I thought about it, nothing had changed. Two years is a long time to fight the same battle and lose it over again. Rather when I sat and looked back, it had been over four years. Four years of broken promises and last chances. And still, there I was, having lost it for some hundredth time.
We live each day up close, day by day, week by week, month by month. We get too lost in the now, that we forget to look at the patterns. It is like a loop. It goes through the same chain of events and we go full circle, one event after the other. Arguments. Apologies. Promises. Broken Promises. More arguments. More apologies. More promises. More broken promises. It sums up in a progressive loop.
I don’t really know when I had enough. Probably in one of those battles I lost, probably in one of those battles I was so sure that I would win, but I lost. It didn’t happen in a day. It built up; one day at a time. And then one day, when the sun was shining but I could still feel the cold in my heart, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. That is when I decided to give up; to absolutely and utterly walk away.
Our days are numbered my love. We are only spared so less. How can we be so ungrateful and spend those days making each others’ lives miserable? How can we inflict such misery on each other, when truly we could make each others’ life a little better? Sometimes, people move on because staying put becomes self-destructive. True it is scary, but in their hearts they know it was the right thing.
I was always a problem child, my mom tells me. I always needed someone; someone to share the little joys of life, someone to reach out to in moments of my emotional outbursts. It has always been difficult for me – dealing with the pressures of growing up. I tend to get inside a bubble at times; a bubble of my fears and insecurities. Nothing makes sense in the bubble, I tend to lose control and give myself up. At that point, I need someone to pop my bubble and I need someone urgently. But when I think about it, you were hardly there, if at all. I always wondered why, when I needed you the most you’d not be there? When I was filled with self-doubt and self-inflicted agony in what would be a complete ignorance of the reality, you were never there to hold me down and show me the light. It made me feel as if I didn’t really matter to you. Or maybe you were only my companion for the good times, for you didn’t share my lows. You couldn’t really fill that empty space in my heart which I had overtime dedicated to you. Only much later I had realized that you were a problem child too, that you had your own bubbles to deal with. And you would deal them all by yourself, all alone. You would block me out, shut me off. It hurts to know that I couldn’t be that person you could share your demons with. It hurts to know that while I was always willing to open up to you, you were always willing to close in on yourself.
It hurts to know that after all that we’ve been through, we couldn’t last.
I wish you all the happiness in the world Kabir. I wish that there be a world where we could be together and not wreck each others’ lives this way. I hope you remember me with love, because I will always remember you with love.
For the thousandth of time Kabir read the letter and with an ache in his heart shoved it back into his old diary. It was nine years ago, but still the pain of separation from Gauri never quite disappeared. It stayed there, in the nooks of his memories; and from the nooks of his memories, it would show up in the moments of despair and longing. The allure of first love never truly fades away. It remains as the most original feelings one has ever felt. It remains as a yardstick for all the future relationships one involves in. But truly, those future relationships only become a faint repetition of the first original feeling; a distant echo, a muffled reverberation. First love brings with it the freshness, the madness, the passion and the desire that sets one’s soul on fire. First love is special in a way nothing else can ever be.
In the freezing December night, here was Kabir sitting on the cot on the wooden floor of his intimate living room with his golden retriever Rusty nestled in his lap. Tonight was one of those many nights Kabir had spent in the past nine years reading Gauri’s letters. There was a strange pain to it, an addictive sweet pain. The kind of pain Kabir had held on to even after a chunk of women came and went out of his life. It wasn’t that those break-ups were not as painful for Kabir, they were. Well, some of them were. But as it is with first love, the separation from your first love is also the most original emotions one feels. And for Kabir, the split with Gauri had left a hole in his heart which could never really be filled. Women came into his life; he started to believe in the possibility of loving someone again. He took those women on elegant dates in fine hotels. He would send them stupid gifts they craved for and he would make love to them in the most exotic of ways. It would be all romantic and stereotypical and too good to last. Eventually when the seductive magnetism of the female would get overshadowed with the stark realization of an entirely opposite core self, the affair would fizzle out. Two young independent adults lead messy lives. Demanding lives. Complex lives. They sometimes have affairs just to feel alive. But when the ridiculousness of it all sets in, the two independent, practical adults part ways.
Kabir often wondered that with Gauri it wasn’t this way. He never had to make an effort to please her. Their love was just a simple feeling of belongingness. They belonged together. In the four years of their relationship, they had gotten so used to each other that there was no need to try and impress the other. They would share the simple joys of being together, sharing little things. Their relationship was not made up of milestones; it was made up of moments – simple moments of great joy and laughter. They would watch crappy movies on their laptops and eat cheap food and drink filter coffee from the road-side vendors near their college. They would split their bills in half and sometimes they would write each other inscriptions of love on those bills. They had respect for one another and they cared for each other despite their own problems. Being together for them was like being at home away from home. They could take each other for granted, sometimes to an unhealthy extent. But as time passed, they grew distant. The pressures of college and having a career stormed upon them and they found themselves in a whirlwind of a turmoil. They both had to deal with hurry-scurry of growing up and they both chose to deal with it differently. Kabir would block Gauri out and Gauri would crave for Kabir’s attention. The occasional titter-tatter eventually became huge arguments which then became brawls full of broken expectations, and as time would have it, they eventually fell apart.
Some days when Kabir would be alone and quiet, those voices would storm his head. Even though it has been nine years, the echoes of those voices didn’t fade. The arguments he had with Gauri, the counter-arguments, the accusations, the endless squabbles they wouldn’t give up on…
It all seemed so petty now, so trivial. Yet he had lost Gauri in them. It only made him feel so incompetent at dealing with relationships. It made him feel guilty of not being able to save the sweet love he had for Gauri. And there he was now, thirty one and single, and carrying the weight of a lost love for nine long years.
Lying in his lap, Rusty was unusually quiet tonight. He had sensed the grim mood of Kabir and his disposition too went south. Kabir shook him with his hands and he moved his head to the other side still lying close to him. Rusty had been with Kabir since past three years. Kabir had found him as a frail tiny pup that kept following him on the merry go round trek of the Satah Hills during his trekking trip. Kabir kept shooing it away, sometimes with strange noises, sometimes running after the puppy, sometimes staring at the poor being in rage. But Rusty refused to go away. At the end of his trek, when Rusty still had religiously followed Kabir, Kabir found a sweet compassion for the little pup and took it along. Though at the time Kabir wasn’t really sure about keeping it and had thought of giving it away to someone, the cute puppy eyes of Rusty became too sweet for him to give up. Rusty too became so homely with Kabir, as if it he had found its lost family. Eventually they both found themselves living their days together under the same roof.
Kabir kept Rusty on the bed and turned the lights off. Like a loving dad, Kabir covered Rusty with his blanket and laid down next to him. In the middle of the night when the moon was high up and the house was pretty quiet, Kabir’s room was filled with only one sound: the noise of Rusty’s snores.
(to be continued)
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