Polaroid

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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