He used to tuck her in … and sleep would come like a prayer does to the lips… but of late she began to turn the lights out earlier, knowing he won’t call, or call out. She moved from one room to the next, tucking the children into their wonderfully simple worlds; and as she went from bed to bed, she secretly tucked him into her veins; slowly, cautiously, preciously weaving him into her skin and then her blood… this would go too.. the indescribable intensity…
one can’t tell loss from a fall… both happen abruptly, without a warning and leave your journey changed entirely. It felt like she was carrying the weight of too many lives in one. The return to one’s old world feels like coming home to a house where someone has rearranged your furniture. It’s a disorienting feeling. The only comfort in a sad place is that you lived here once and you could relearn to live here again. Strange woman bumping into her old furniture at night, places she had counted her way around now were gone. She pondered for long minutes just before sleep came, how she could have done that to herself – believe in herself with such surety where there was no faith but only a need that was satiated and left an empty gaping hole in her heart … Takotsubo …
The day always seemed promising with tiny pockets of chores … a nip here and a tuck there.. a button come loose and she could be thankful for diversion. The books piled and lay next to her bed … they read together. Once.
She brushed her hands against the edges of the Afghan throw and paused. She undid the blanket and started neatly folding it again, intently working on it as if her next ten minutes depended on this ritual. It started with a touch … a leaving out of the shoulder that she could lean on and rest at night, hands interlacing, she would trace his hands languidly. Tiny reaching out meant the world she had envisioned for them … making love in ways unknown to the universe.
And here she stood, dim light from the neighbour’s house was streaming in from the windows and she stood in a pool of pale, yellow light, frozen there by the realization that everything so rare, so real, so dependable was taken in an instant. She unconsciously snapped her fingers and was startled by the sound it made.
The day was a miracle, but nights were more precious. The house was silent and she could hear the humming inside her ears.
There she stood, pale light and her pale skin, both in a synchronized display of time that was. Tiny particles could be clearly seen, playing in the light, tumbling against her and then floating aimlessly sans gravity. She could hear her voice from a time gone … laughter, squeals of rolling laughter as she ran ahead of him … he was running after her, possibly slow on purpose so she would win the run. She smiled at the memory now and realized it was not because he wanted her to win, it was so he could hear her laugh longer.
And she ran so she could have him longer … time always was not theirs.
Who could have known that one could live a lifetime in a moment and feel assurance that promised certainty but not reality. The thing about fantasy or people who live in fantasies is that they break bit by bit when reality sets in.
And it set in sooner than they both had envisaged. For her it came in the shape of a breakdown. For him in the shape of moving on…
In the old scriptures, there is no mention of lovers. The only relationship between a man and a woman is that of a marriage. The rest falls into an abyss … and then there is a duty bound love for the children and the hierarchy goes on … the ultimate love is always for the unknown, absolute and constant …
We call it the universe or a higher power and post 9/11 we refrain from saying it aloud, that he is god. She was thinking that people had stopped whispering His name: allah… even under their breath lest some drone comes and kills their petty existence from this small speck in this universe .., the thought occurred to her and made her anxious and then a smile creased her lips … what if she was in the shower and the drone dropped death on her. The smile was from memories she had tucked away … they would count the number of showers she took … too many … well, so did he. They were just fond of showers or it was the feeling of washing out the remains of a day or an afternoon … whatever it was, it fixed a very out of sync moment and eased it … and they would laugh at their childish pleasure that came because it was just pure and innocent. Who could have known that adults were just children dressed up in older skin.
So, love is not in the scriptures but if you read closely, with your heart you will find it on every single page..
musa (as) Yousef(as) ali(as) mohammad (saww) mariam(as) khadija(as) Fatima (as) , the list is endless… but it is all about love.
It is only about love.
She was tracing the night along the walls of her living room, and attempting to see how love could be anything but love. It was a parable she had to unravel for their love to expand, to exist and coexist …
She turned from the moon staring at her and without realizing went downstairs, opening the door with the slightest of noise. The years had taught her to be invisible, quietness bordering on oblivion
She was looking down when she stepped out and was not expecting the sudden embrace … tightly coiling her into an over abundance of senses.
She closed her eyes and remained still so she could rest her head against the certainty she was missing.. ‘I’m all yours’ … the breeze whispered, she rubbed her cheeks against his and inhaled him…ah! the motiya was awake … she opened her eyes and went and sat near the abundance. If nano had been here she would have scolded her, and tapped her cane three times on the floor.. ummm hmmm she would have said disapprovingly … it was a bad omen to sit near the motiya at night, or any bush, tree or nature … she wouldn’t have even let her out of the house … but that was then … this was 30 years after nano had died … passed away in her arms with a sigh so silent that it made her shudder even now.
From where she sat, she could see the tree … it had died the summer before this one … they say it got eaten at the roots by a rare bug called asian longhorn beetles. Adult insects lay eggs in an opening, usually in the bark. The larvae further bores large alleys or galleries deep, deep into the wood.
These are the “feeding” galleries and they disrupt the vascular ability of the tree, enough to finally weaken the tree to the point that the tree literally falls apart and dies …
so the tree died of a heartache … couldn’t breathe anymore without love and attention.
Of course, love and attention have become synonymous with negative implication in the ever evolving human life. Love and attention seem to be the offspring of attention seeking women, usually housewives. One wonders why housewives are so negatively viewed by the same men who will dote on a lover with the same words : love and attention.
What need does the other woman then satiate which the wife cannot … it’s just a passing thought and she was not indulging in that question.
The breeze had picked up, and the tree, if one could continue calling it that, looked eerie… its limbs sticking out for help. There were just two left now.. arms that seemed eternally reaching for her or the heavens … sometimes, when the nights were dark, very dark, like she liked them, she could hear the tree moaning.
Crying out for her
She got up from where he had been sitting and walked for a while … this patch had her footprints engraved … many a nights had been spent here walking in a perpetual search for answers to ambiguities only she could conjure up. Sorceress … he used to smile and say, “you can make anything happen…the impossible is like a dare to to you.” She would smile knowing somewhere deep inside that he was just naive. she was not a sorceress. She was medusa … everything she touched turned to dust; like the tree. And everything or anyone who touched her, took from her and she gave freely; for her loving was all she knew. It was in her being that kept spilling out. Caressing naked, hungry kids and asking them what they wanted to be when they would grow up, sitting with old people in the park listening to magical stories from their past … believing every word her children told her from their dreams … understanding what her children couldn’t say … she was the tainted one. Indeed.
He was wrong … she could not make the impossible a possibility … she could sing and dance and enchant a night into submitting at her feet, the length and width of the hours but she could not make it last forever.
Nothing stays forever, nothing lasts that long …
It was a line she had written when she was sixteen … frozen in Time … she watched everything and everyone she loved, leave.
The moon looked at her as if it was running out of time. She looked at the house once more … it hummed peacefully, and she could smell the children as they dreamed of love …
She walked to the tree…
It is impossible to determine the time a heart stops beating. Perhaps it is when it gets all tangled in loving. The knots constrict the life supply bit by bit and then one day … one just breathes one last breath here on earth … life continues in another realm but this one has been exhausted.
She laid herself in those odd arms extended that kept calling her .. and although she had not slept in years or at least not slept in completion, the tree felt like a comfortable place … she remembered it … his arms felt like that once.
and she slept.
In the morning the maali shook his head from left to right and then right to left as if it was a circular approval in absolute disbelief …
“yeh jar pakkee hoti hai… zameen ki pakar k rakhtee hai, aur jab bhi usse saans mile, khorak.. bas .. phoot parti hai naee zindagi waheen se!”
Dee is from Lahore, Pakistan. Loves dark nights and old trees.