What do you do when you don’t feel in love anymore?
Love has been my direction, my definition for eleven years. I have written about the people I loved, the city I still feel immense, nagging affection for and the things that nurture me. And in all of this writing, I discovered the colour, the texture of my love. It’s words. All in words.
Good writing makes me happy. Not pleased, not fulfilled. But all-is-right-with-the-world happy. It’s not just my writing. More often than not, it’s somebody else’s writing. A book, a line in a movie, a stranger’s blogpost or even something written by someone I know. I go through days afterward, cherishing the existance of those words, much like the way children of a kind cherish a new toy or women finger a pretty ring meditatively. I was that kind of child though I have never been that kind of a woman. Words. They slip into my pores, the little holes in my skin. Sometimes, they settle into the cracks of my being and make my insides feel whole again.
And it’s not always happy stories and pleasant emotions. There are words that trickle or curl into my being, leaving behind little punctures in my soul. They leave burn marks. And they let free the monster inside. That monster, is a living being. And after it has gone on a rampage, it turns around and thanks them for giving it breathing freedom. Words.
Of course words are dangerous. There was never going to be any other way love would be. You would imagine that it is the danger of other people’s words that I fear. But, hardly. I’m charmed and felled by words. But I know by now that words are my downfall. They are also my resurrection. So I have Post-its lining my tidy pinboard and a line of tweets down my Favorites. I collect words and put them away in the first-aid kit of my mind. Here is Reema saying “Potatoes will potato, Ramya.” and there’s the exuberance of Shreyans tweeting “Step 2 done! Life, come, come!”
No, I don’t fear what I don’t know. I do know words. I know them with the intimacy of someone who has been married to them and made every kind of love — wild, passionate love and the mundane, comforting sort — to them. I know the tricks words can turn. I know the mirages that can be conjured up in the heat of my imagination. I run double matinee shows for myself every day. I fear that this is everything. The tricks and the trickster.
Moonshine. What a lovely word. It means pretty untruths. It means the dim, surreal light that brings up things that you don’t comprehend in regular daylight. It means this could be true or this may not be. But it exists because you thought of it, anyway. I’m a master of moonshine.
It’s time to come out of the shadows and face the harsh, ugliness of sunlight. Confusion has begun to feel comfortable. But it’s not pretty without the moonshine. Love endings never are pretty. So what do I do from now on?
Allow myself the last weakness, a final dalliance with words. What do you do when you don’t feel in love anymore? Write your suicide pact in the form of a love letter.
So today’s story – two regular people, trying to be interesting to each other, playing mind-and-heart games before their bodies do. I call this ‘Cryptic Chimichangas’ for two curious dates with two different people, who by a strange quirk of fate, share their birthday.
“You think I’m so something, don’t you?”
She turns to take a sip from her glass. She sips regular water like it’s wine. It’s not even bottled water, just plain old ‘regular water’. Rahul can’t tell whether she’s frightfully pretentious or unimaginably gauche.
“Yes, you most certainly are something.”
He replies, solemnly, even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. Being steady is the only way to deal with her, he has decided. So he keeps his eyes on her even as she coolly surveys the other tables, stares at the cigarette shop across the road and makes wry expressions as she looks around their table.
“Yes. I’m temperamental.”
She says abruptly, turning to look at him. Her fidgety gaze gone, her eyes are fixed on him, guileless and open.
No kidding, Sherlock, he mutters to himself as he busies himself with the menu. She continues to regard him as he painstakingly reads the starters, the main course, the desserts, the beverages and then the main course again. He can still feel her eyes on him so he goes back to read the descriptions under the starters names again. By Chicken Chimichanga, he’s ready to explode so he jerks his head up angrily.
She’s biting her lips and studying her nails but she looks up the minute he does too. Great, now he just feels petulant.
They work their way through the Chicken Chimichangas in different ways – she takes neat half-bites of each piece, like she’d rather be doing something else. He eats up an entire one, thinking how inadequate it is and then remembers to slow down, for good manners. He’s very hungry but her measured eating makes him think he should slow down. So he starts to tell her a story instead.
“So it’s been a crazy week, working like madness to finish that damn presentation. Then I didn’t open my mouth once during the presentation. Just let them roll on with all the lies. And then yesterday this client says the ad doesn’t cue the product to be sexy.”
He stops and there’s a slurp-splotch-ting as she delivers another half Chimichanga onto her plate, with her fork. She looks up, inquiring gaze and it makes him sweat.
“You know, sexy. I mean, sexy???”
“Yes, I get it. Tractors, sexy, doesn’t make sense.”
And then, as if it just occurred to her that it might be polite to do so, she explodes into laughter. He’s annoyed, then flustered and then a little abashed at his poor joke-telling skills. But she’s still laughing.
“Try putting it into the item number in Dabangg 3.”
She gasps the words out in between snorts and chuckles. She is not a pretty laugher. But definitely an infectious one, he thinks and gives in with a smile.
She ceases finally and pats her mouth daintily with her napkin. And then she says,
“But of course, you probably don’t know what Dabangg is, do you? Bollywood and all that.”
“Yeah, I don’t really like that shit.”
he says before he can catch himself.
“But I know what Dabangg is.”
“Of course, Mr.Majid Majidi.”
She visibly smirks.
“Yes. That sounds like a starter to you, doesn’t it?”
“Chicken Chimichanga. Majid Majidi. Yes, well done.”
She replies but this time she’s not smiling. She looks away and frowns at the floor. He wants to apologize, to tell he’s sorry for sneering at her. No one likes being condescended to.
“Oh look, the sky’s turned yellow!”
She leans down, almost flat on the table so she can see under the awning. He follows her gaze and sees she’s right.
“Refraction. That’s what causes that colour.”
He says, remembering his eighth standard science textbook.
“Refraction happens everyday.”
She darts a gaze to him but her tension has melted and her attention is drawn back to the yellow sky.
He tries again.
“It looks like the fried cheese on top of the Chimichangas.”
She laughs but she doesn’t turn to him. A few minutes later she mumbles something about the colour of paradise. As they step out, she impulsively reaches for his hand. And she looks right into his eyes when she says,
“You’re a little something too.”
(Click to see the full idea-toon)
Based on a true story!
Okay, only a part of it…my words, that is. Mercifully the guy (unlike the cartoon dude) is smart enough to get the point and wise enough to guffaw. But for those specimens that are not and who guile you with their malintentions, here’s putting pretentious linguistics to good use! 😉
I detest people who say that they detest something and then proceed to do the same to other people. Even if the other people don’t have any issues with it.
This statement reminds me of a line from The Namesake
I detest American television!
It was startling the first time round and then funny on the repeat when re-iterated in an accurate imitation.
But I’m not European, I’m not an NRI and these days I’m not even intelligent or talented. Did I mention? I’ve decided to dumb down after all these years of thinking up.
Read a story about a man who called himself ‘King of Banter’. Actually I knew him. Knew him well, admired him and loved him dearly. Enough to want to be like him , be on the same Planet Smarties as him. I did well…and a few years later, in unabashed admiration he commented that ‘the pupil had overtaken the master’. She overtook ME too.
So enough with the smartass comments, enough with the sass, enough with being brilliantly witty, enough of the budding smartling. I was born average and I’m going back to being so.