There is this memory of an evening that has been coming to me in flashes in the past few weeks. Bear in mind that for me, the past is now a jar of collectables that I pay little attention to. The present leaves no room for anything else. The memory speaks to me from a foreign place and comes to me once in a while.

It is evening and the dusk is starting to smear into the sky. It is a Bombay winter so a small breeze plays around us nonchalant, uninvited but not unwelcome. A quiet sort of freedom hangs around too, but I suspect this is purely retrospective given that this memory makes me feel like that was the last time I was carefree and haven’t been so since. We are sitting at a table on the pavement where tables are lined outside a cafe. There’s honking in the background, but it only interrupts the absence of words between us. No need to say much and I suppose Mia Wallace approves of this company. The smeared dusk, uninvited breeze, and a vanilla muffin accompany us. Cinnamon tea is had, small talk is made, and a winding drive is taken afterwards. And then, I leave the country for a while to return to a life that looks nothing like the one I left behind.

When I return, everything is awry. And the world is a coagulated mess of uncertainties, wordlessness, and imminent grief.

I wanted to write a poem about that evening because it was so serene and perfect. However, I did not because I felt like words wouldn’t do justice to how picturesque it is in my mind. Besides, why does the heart want to keep saying something? Why doesn’t it shush for a while, quietly hum, and turn away from the yearning to capture something beautiful even if it is for a fleeting moment? Be still, my beating heart.

I think of that evening these days maybe because it did not crease itself in places, but smoothened out life before me — telling me that it could be simple, I could be happy. And then, that’s that. But now I am certain, that I have made it all up in my head. That I dreamed it up or it was from another girl’s life. She was someone else. She had it all worked out. And as for me, I am just peeking into her mind like a voyeur. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been.

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