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Amor E Morte
Chapter II: Death

(continued from last week)

THERE had been a disturbing stillness in the house earlier in the evening, a deafening silence that slowly retarded every other sense, one after the other- a frighteningly gradual progression. By the time it was dark outside, my ears were numb from the silence, and the dark corners of the room seemed to be dissolving, fading with the echoes of silence. Night was descending fast, and so was my sanity in this forsaken silence, as it were. I wanted her to be angry, to scream and shout, to break something, to pack her bags, even if just for show. But I could not take the silence.

I had sought to leave, as I often had before in these out of hand moments. Working in the garden out on the terrace provided a temporary escape and the only escape I could give myself; but even in there I was surrounded by the drab cityscape from every side. The size of the garden barely afforded enough time to be spent behind it, and she was bitter enough from the last time I over-watered her daffodils. Before long I had to return inside the house. The silence at once wrapped around my skin like plastic wrap; it wrapped around my face and made it difficult to breathe, it wrapped around my feet and made it difficult to move, sending all the blood rushing straight to my heart and instilling suddenly a fear I had not known before. The doctor had warned me strictly against such sudden outbursts. Grasping around to understand it and sitting down on my favorite chair at the study, I tried to draw a few deep breathes to somewhat calm myself from the sudden throbbing and drank a glass of water.

The chill penetrated far more than just my clothes; I felt it pricking against my skin, making the little hairs on my arms stand on edge. And then I was met with her voice from the shower. Every droplet fell without fail to the strictest of straight lines, making the exact sound it was meant to be making; not too loud, not too quiet, but a calculated decibel. However, something was amiss. The silence, even despite the sound of the running water, despite the bustle of quick machines outside, which was all a part of it, there was something disturbing the carefully crafted notation. She was crying into the silence, feeding from it, shedding tears that decimated with the touch of the shower water, and ran swiftly down the drain. The throbbing in my heart intensified again, and I clutched the glass in my hand harder than I intended. In a few hours, this resonance of sorrow would be the last thing on my mind in this life.

She finally showed the emotion she had fought to hold all day. We had entered an emotional ennui. I considered it my failing as a person to no longer excite her interest. Early in the morning today, after another night of sleeplessness for the both of us, she had said she wanted a break, a temporary leave from me. And I knew then without a shed of a doubt that things had changed; I was not ready for change. I still held a love as dear as ever, even if I failed to display it as ardently as before. But none of it would account for much by the time the sun rose the next morning.

The moon cast the kind of light set aside only for lovers meeting under clandestine arrangements. There was a soft drizzle outside, unheard of at this time of the year. Things kept happening to disturb our perfect equation. The truth I had wanted, the truth that I had finally created and called discovery kept getting shattered. I woke up in my chair, thoroughly drenched in the moonlight coming from the window. My heart was finally completely at rest, and I felt calm. I wondered for a second what had happened. I remember finally going to our bedroom, and making myself as light as possible, lying down on the unwelcome bed. She would be leaving in the morning, and even if as cold as ever, I wanted to spend the last night beside her. But I must have dreamt it; I was in my study, sitting on my chair in front of the window. I tried but failed to come to terms with reality. I finally decided it must have been a dream: the sky outside was not as dark as night time would suggest, meaning it must still be evening. I tried making myself as invisible as I could in the uninviting house, still marred with her recent sorrow. My presence was oppressive, and an instigator of much of her despair. I hated myself for it. It was growing late, but the streets outside had already died down. I wondered at this premature period of a regular routine. Silence inside had been prevalent all day, but the silence outside the house stood out sorely. Sleep could not be imagined tonight. Not for me... not for her. Through supine breathing and an eerily quiet air and an almost inaudible heart fall, I wondered why the edges of the room seemed to be dissolving. I pondered upon it, looking over at the dark corners becoming progressively blurrier. It must be from being asleep at this odd hour; my eyes were still adjusting to the semi-darkness.
Somewhere in what seemed to be a distant chamber of my mind, I remembered a distant weeping. And I suddenly realized that it was not in my mind but from another room. She was only a few feet away, but I felt the sound coming from another world. It was raining no more. I felt coldness inside my heart now; not on the cusp and hem of my skin, but from within. Hesitant, and unsure, I walked over to the bedroom in spite of everything that had happened. The door lay half open, and I walked through it, into the dimly lit room. What I saw inside nearly made me lose my grip. She was a ghostly shade of white, and not even bothering to fight back tears. She held in her arms a stationary body, and mountains of truth overwhelmed me. Truth that I did not want. It had not been a dream. I had chosen to sleep beside her for the final night. The truth of my existence came crashing down on me. I couldn't leave her even in death. I tried to speak out but found that I didn't have a tongue. And the dark corners of the room were taking over the world; with it the entire creation becoming hazy. Things remained unsaid.

“I'm so sorry,” she managed between tears, clutching on to the now distant body, “I never wanted to leave... I don't know why I said what I said. I should have apologized to you earlier, I'm so sorry... won't you please come back now?”

The world had begun to whirl, and I felt my own being slowly dissipating. My eyes fell on her wrist, where she was still wearing the watch. It had meant everything. It had meant I would never leave her. It had meant she would never be late. Damn it. You promised to never be late again. There remained truth, unfiltered and concrete truth that had become obvious to me finally, unfound and incomplete. I still love you. Too many things remained unspoken; too many things that we in life can never find.

By Ahsan Sajid


Marbellous marvels

“So, okay, here goes: You're on a boat, and you're in the middle of the ocean. You have two cigarettes with you and nothing else. No matches or lighters or anything. Now, you need to light one up. How do you do it?”

“Nothing else?”
“Nothing else.”
“Okay.”

We are both sitting on the ground. He rests his chin on his fist, his eye brows furrowed. To me, he seems to be in deep thought, pondering various possibilities in his head. I sit, legs crossed, three marbles in hand, trying to juggle them. 'Trying' being the operative word. I would throw one up, and get nervous and forget what to do with the others.

“I don't know. How?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I'm sure.”
“Positive?”
“Yes, darn it!”

I look at him for a moment, rolling the marbles in the palm of my hand. I rub my chin with the other, thinking.

“Are you absolutely cer-“
“Just tell me, already!”

“Okay, okay.” I put both my hands up, making elaborate gestures which have no connection to the words coming from my mouth. “You have two cigarettes, right?” He nods. Mmhmm. “And nothing else, right?” I can see the vein on his neck pulsating, and that he is trying real hard to not slap me senseless that very moment. “So.” I pause.

I stare at him for a while. He stares back.
“So, the cigarette…” I pause again.
He stares at me, his fists clenched.
“Now remember, TWO cigar-“
“I swear to God!”
“Fine, fine, you have two cigarettes. You throw one off the boat. Now, won't the boat become 'lighter?'”

He looks at me. I look at him. He looks down for a while, biting his lower lip, that same deep-thinking look on his face. He looks up again. Stares at me. I stare at him.

He stares at me.
I stare at him.
“What? Did you get it?” I ask.
“Yes, I got it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mmhmm.” I can see daggers.

I poke the air between us, close to him, with the littlest finger on my right hand, a sudden jab. He looks at it for a while, and then averts his gaze back to me.

“Pinky?”

He doesn't do anything. He is still looking at me, like he is amazed, as if he can't believe what he is seeing in front of his eyes, a look of total bewilderment on his face.

“What?” I ask.
“Nothing, nothing.”
“I'm sure it's something, I can see your face, you know? Tell me.” My voice quivers under the weight of pretentious sympathy. “What's bothering you?”

“You really want to know?”
“Yes.”
“Sure?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Absolutely, positively certain?”

My turn for those daggers. I don't quite enjoy this taste of my own medicine.

“I was thinking…” Pause.
“Yes?” I ask, exasperated.
“That…” Pause.
That tiny piece of dung.

“That whether I should kill you right NOW or after I've physically assaulted you and married your sister.”

The same staring at each other goes on for a minute or so. I break my gaze away and try to juggle the marbles again. One goes up; I get nervous again, but not quite as much as before. I am able to throw the second one up. My heart beats in glee. But this great achievement, one worthy of, what seems to me, great merit, excites me too much. In my anxiousness to throw the third one up, and to catch the first, I throw it too hard, and in the wrong direction. It hits him smack on the forehead.

He doesn't move. I find him still looking at me. Same look.

“Hey.” I say.
“Hi.” He says.
“Still thinking of physically assaulting me?”
“And marrying your sister.”
“Of course, of course.”

I try juggling again. Same thing happens, except this time it hits him right in the nose.

“I'm trying to include other members of your family in the equation now.”

“Yes, they were feeling a little left out.”

“Maybe you should just stick to playing with them in the traditional way.” He suggests. I nod.

I scatter the other marbles in the ground between us. I take one in my right hand, place it at the top of my middle finger, and pull it back with my left. I let it go, trying to hit one of them. It is off the mark by a few meters. Hits him right in the eye.

“Ow.” He clutches his eye with both his hands. Both his eyes are closed. At least, there's no more of that awkward staring thing going on anymore.

“At least, there's no more of that awkward staring thing going on anymore.” I repeat out loud.

“Touché.”

“Remember when we used to play marbles when we were kids? And games like that? Nowadays everyone stays at home with their 'computer games.'” I do the air-quote thing with my hands for emphasis.

He nods, still rubbing his eye. I look up at the darkening sky and stand up to leave.

“Where are you going?” he asks, opening his unmolested eye.

“I'm bored. Going home, some GTA IV maybe. Coming with?”

He stares at me again, one eyed.

“Sure.”
By S. N. Rasul


 

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