Three words. Stumped, I stare at the screen over and over again. I sense my mind zoning out, helpless I watch the words unsettle my universe. I have the cosmic mute button pressed on my face. What do I say? What is there left to say anyway.
I am reminded of the hot Adyar Sunday afternoons. Sweltering heat, narrow sticky walls, brown steps stained with beetle juice. And you at the end of it, smiling, waiting for me to come after class. Cycle rides. Honks. The Sun. Weary faces caught in their routine. Distracted flower sellers carelessly sprinkling water on their wilting roses. My feet inches off the burning tar. Sweat spreading on your back slowly like a coloniser’s army. The uncomfortable steel poking my bottom. Saltiness. Why do people say love is sweet? It fails to make sense to me. Love is salty like the sweat you broke giving me cycle rides when there wasn’t enough to spare for an auto. Like the finger tips, dusty, tired. Like tears we coaxed out of each other. Like blood. If love has to have a taste, it has to be salty. Not sweet.
Love is given so willingly when it is given. No complaints, no resentments. I would have come walking, or shared a ride and felt the same about you as always. But I suppose that is where love hides, in that extra mile, that extra bit of trouble that is no trouble at all. The chappals that were mended. Photostats taken. Deadlines met. I was the scripture, you were the religion. Purpose, meaning, the crux of life, the summary.
Where do feelings go when they die? Where are the bones I can bury? The ashes I can blow over the wind? I see the narrow line between death and disappearance. But I don’t know what is easier to handle. If there was a way one could squeeze out meanings from words, what do we call what is left? What do we do with all the alphabets sticking on our fingers like obstinate chunks of glue? The phrases broken in half, shapeless.
This old city must have witnessed countless encounters of that which is believed to be love. A million cycle rides over 100s of years. A thousand smiles flashed on a faceless mass that is all those of who have ever fallen in love here. Patriots. Britishers. Workers. Kings. Theosophians. Over years. And so the wind that blows here tastes salty like love. A saltiness that is beyond that of the Besant nagar beach or the sun broken sweat. All that love forgotten and fallen into oblivion. Two more people into that endless nameless pit. Where now only forgetfulness kisses obscurity. No more warm embraces, no impatient waitings.
My mind races back. Eyes narrow down on the words on the screen. From a stranger that was once you. Somebody who knew how I was better than I myself did. Somebody others asked how I was when they wanted to know how I really was. So strange. I am now estranged from my own words. Stranded on an island. With a lonely smart phone. Not smart enough to wheedle a word out of me.