We always promise each other to stay, don’t we?
Sometimes mornings afterwards are only a series of remembrances: sights, sounds, smells that drift past me in no particular order.
I give myself over, unthinkingly, and recede into the strange pathways of time that have a way of calling us back, claiming us back, as if we belonged to only one precise moment in the trajectory of all things and no matter how far ahead we go, that one moment will always lay the strongest claim to us.
You are holding my hand as I pour over a half-completed book and we’re kissing even before we know it. I’m torn between the heavy collection of scenes from what I’ve been reading and the taste of your lips. Eventually, the taste of your lips overpowers everything else. Later, I open the book to find your earring as a marker of perfect recollection. This is where I left; this is where I must proceed from.
My heart undulates to the sound of you breathing. I fall asleep after you and get up before you so I can catch and preserve glimpses of your soft beauty in the dimness of light. I knit you into poems I can revisit, each fold of paper folds delicately into your skin and I build my homes here.
With you, the self-constructed illusion of my ability to remain thick-skinned and distant broke into bits. I felt everything more powerfully; the striking profundity of emotions came to me in its entirety.
People say about those in love that there is a tendency to forget and sideline everything save the lover’s face, her countenance, her temperament. But with you, I grew infinitely more aware, feeling the splendor of a starry night down to every bone, tracing skylines in teacups and breathing more. Just breathing more, slowing down. I’d look at a blooming flower and pause in my tracks, struck by the phenomenon. I’d smile more, smile at people I didn’t know, as though it was an obligation of some sorts to share the deep love that I was experiencing. Everybody deserves a love like this, I would think to myself on countless occasions.
Buying you roses, I promise, wasn’t a symptom of me succumbing to normative standards of romantic chivalry. It was only an attempt to create fragrant memoirs of what you were, of what we were and store them in the sweetest smelling paperbacks so I might open one on a morning like this and be transported back to the time when I knew no solace but your arms.
I think I still know no solace but your arms. I am unaccustomed to the thorough loneliness. In my imagination of you, I always conjure you as thinking of me, always writing to me, reading to me, making more poems of this endless grief.
I hear the birds chanting outside and I think they are all saying your name in unison. I cannot enjoy this music without you beside me, without you cooing in my ear and pecking my cheek with an ardent desire. Sometimes, I do not want to move for fear of disturbing my memory of you. As I walk to my classes, I search the corridors with the hopelessness of a romantic for traces of you, for you. I do this with persistence every day, hope, pray, plead. There is a painful tastelessness that has consumed by existence.
I travel and fly; yet I am convinced that there is no joy in this without you. I write poetry and imagine each word to be wailing mournfully in the heartbreaking sorrow of not being read out to you, felt by you, touched by you. I buy roses compulsively, and each walk I take to the flower seller down the road is tormenting.
You taught me how to feel deeply, but I have realized that the wonders of the universe have reduced to a desolate nothingness now. Every void you have left I attempt to fill with half-baked memories and I think that is exactly where I am going wrong.
I do not know how to feel whole again. I always thought there was an urgent need for people to stop calling people they love their ‘halves’ because it implies that the individual is incomplete. Now, I think I know what they mean. But this is even more dangerous, because you aren’t my ‘half’. You’ve always been my whole.
Swastika Jajoo is in her final year as an English Literature student, with an ardent love for words and food ingredients, and a self-proclaimed ability to create new flavors out of both. She lives on the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and believes in afterlife.