We fall in love with a person. We fall out of love with a person. In-between we think that our life will end without them. But then it does not, for most of us.
Forgetting a person is not the difficult part. You’ll forget them, eventually.
It is the tokens that you can never forget.
The little tokens of love that you picked up as you lived with them. The nicks that you gave each other. The internal jokes that only you two could understand. The favourite restaurants. The smoothies that you sipped from the same glass. The movie references that you made up. A life unique to two people. Like the fingerprints. One of its own kind. Nothing can replace that feeling.
All these become you. And you don’t even realize that. They become a part of you. Little habits. Little rituals. These tokens.An intrinsic part of your existence. Living inside you. Flowing in your veins with your blood. Feeding you. Nourishing you. Making you what you are.
And you can’t wash them off.
I was with Nisha. An air hostess. I had started seeing her a year after after things ended up with Rhea. She was different. Somehow she could look beyond my face, beyond my words. She had an ability to reach beyond everything that I represented as a person. She understood me. And for the first time in years I had started feeling comfortable with someone.
We were in a restaurant for lunch.
‘Why don’t you discuss your past?’ she asked.
‘There is nothing to discuss.’
‘It does not look like this. I can still feel her memories on you. It is not apparent easily. But then look closely at you, and everything is about her.’
‘You are overthinking,’ I said feeling a little irritated.
‘No. I’m not.’
‘You are not a psychologist,’ I snapped, hoping that she would stop discussing this topic.
‘One need not be. At least in your case.’
I looked at her and for a moment I felt as if she was not there. Neither were the restaurant where we were eating. Its tables, chairs, cash counter -everything disappeared. I felt the surrounding sound sucked into nothingness. And I was transported to an idyllic meadow with distant air hitting my face. It became silent.
And I felt so lonely that it hurt.
At that moment she became unreal to me. Her existence mere symbolic to me. I was trying to understand her but her words became the sound of that wind hitting my face. They had a sound, they had impact. But had no meaning. I was trying to gather what she was saying but it was like she had no meaning anymore.
And then a thought hit me.
What if I couldn’t gather her words because my hands were closed, already full of somethings from the past. I was holding onto something which didn’t matter anymore.
I realized my hands were tightened into a fist. There was a tension in my body I’d never felt. A tout feeling that had enveloped me with a protective layer.
I loosened the grip of my hand. And the cover started vanishing.
I started coming back from the meadows to the real world. The sound started filling in around me. The clanking knives, the hushed talks, the silent footsteps. I was in the real life again.
I looked at my hands on the table. They were not fisted anymore. Her hands were on my hands. Her fingers locked into mine.
‘You need to accept what happened,’ she was saying, ‘We are as much made up of our good past, as we are of made up of our bad past. We can’t cut the bad ones away. We can’t hide from them. Because we are made of them. We are them. They don’t make us good or bad. What we do in spite of them is what defines us. You need to accept that.’
It’s been close to a year with Nisha, the air hostess. I was learning to embrace my life. Still learning.
A lot of what she had said that day made sense. Though it’s not easy to put into practice.
But this thing I’m sure, I’m not hiding anymore. I have stopped running from the past. I have stopped running from myself, running from the tokens of that love which used to be a part of me. Not anymore.
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