Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo.

Tonight is particularly melancholic. Here I am, listening to Farid Khanum slowly making her way through this beautiful Nazm. There is a certain ring to her canorous voice, that keeps me tethered to this pensive mood that has enveloped me. It is drizzling outside, with occasional pauses that brings a soothing night breeze into my room. I look at the huge decal of a phonograph that I have stuck to my bedroom wall. For the first time in a long while, I felt a bit suffocated. I still love this room, for it has seen me like nobody else. It knows more about me than anybody else. If this room was a person, I would have preferred it dead. So I am happy in a sense, living inside this dead room.

As I led my eyes through the contours of this room, they get stuck at a coil of hair that lies on the floor. It was Tara’s! There is no escaping from her memories, I curse. Tara has made a decision to leave me for the better. I wouldn’t complain though. She is knowledgeable enough to make the right choice for her. The only person I am disappointed with is myself, who is still sitting across the door, blocking her way. At some point of time, I thought it would be easier for me to handle situations like these. Turns out, when she decided to leave, I was shattered. Shattered like a vase hitting a floor; car window panes on a speeding truck; a dead bat splattered on a windmill. I stood no chance. I just melted.

I am utterly disappointed at my sheer inability to let her go. This should have been easier. But the turn of events was a bit too fast for me. So here I am, in a limbo, listening to old songs and wondering about the hundred different ways this could have gone wrong. But this is it, the shape of my shadow falling on a bed sheet. A bit distorted, but still mine.

I see a bindi that she has stuck to my bed pole. Another one on my copy of “The Constitution of India”; yet another is winking at me from the mirror.

This room is filled with her memories. From my round comb smelling sweet after her to the green brush in my washroom. She is everywhere. During her brief stay in my life, everything attached to me has metamorphosed into an iron girdle over my head. It seems as if there is no end to this - I should be running away from her - from all of these. This might be a futile attempt to outrun her - to leave before she does. But I will be defeated - she has departed already and this is no competition. This is life.

I look at the person in the mirror and I cannot recognize him. He was dissolved in the background as my eyes were fixed at her red bindi stuck to the mirror. But now he has come to life. I barely know the man I am seeing. But undoubtedly, this is the person that I am right now. I have aged greatly in the last ten days, with pounds of flesh hanging from my chest, sagged eyes and cheeks devoid of love and light. I tried to recall my reflection in the hundred thousand mirrors I have seen myself before.

I could recall their contours, their frames and even the colour of walls to which they were hanged. The mirror in my primary school’s tiny toilet. The one in college where I used to go for a smoke. The greyish, moth eaten corners of the shabby mirror in the final year hostel. I could remember them all. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember seeing my younger self in them.

Isn’t this strange? I could look at my old pictures and I knew how I looked. I had more hair, I had a different pair of glasses, some childish dresses and the life of my teenage years. I could see them all in a photograph. But, I couldn’t even recollect one reflection of myself on a mirror from the past. This sounded strange, especially given the many hours I have spent grooming myself standing in front of a mirror.

At the onset of teenage years, I was worried about my stubborn curly hair that always refused to straighten up. No amount of cajoling would move her intransigence. Still, I made a point in trying to coerce my way through her. Never did I succeed, but I spent many hours trying to tame my hair. Sure, I have seen myself in the mirror a hundred thousand times with that hair. But why can’t I recollect one single reflection! This is strange, I repeat.

I can’t recollect my reflection, but suddenly a vision of Tara’s belly flash in front of me. I was embarrassed that I was thinking about her belly right now. In fact, I was reminded of how her feet felt close to mine. Her outer feet was especially smooth, with me forever wanting to rub my mine on hers. I wonder if she still remember all these little things that we did together. Perhaps, this is how life is. When confronted with such deep heart aches, we go back mining memories. We mourn at the invaluable bits and pieces that we fetch, much like a mother mourning her aborted foetus. There isn’t much we can do, this mad frenzied search for memories, travelling back in time and tracing the death of love is what keeps us afloat for the time being. I will just keep doing it still I find a better buoy to hold myself.

In the meantime, the playlist was exhausted, with “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo” coming back to me, through Laurie Anderson singing “one beautiful evening” and Ghulam Ali making things worse with his “Chupke Chupke”. I know what I am going to do next. I will miss Tara and go to sleep. That’s pretty much what I am going to do today.

Written on September 12, 2019