They Said Your Heartbreak Was In Your Head
Poor soul, they called her, and they pitied her. Pontificating their opinions like preachers promising hell, they dished out judgment after judgment, behind her back and front, they rode the same soul down to the ground and promised her enlightenment at the cost of what she felt. She, confused inside, but stubborn as a matador, fought these superficial assumptions, these assumptions based on age and sex and the target of her love. Her eyes rained fury and blight, and her head packed with self-pitying torment, flung out thoughts in bewilderment, and embraced them back in again, unwary of potential damage. She was a mistress of the modern world, where every letter is the subject of scrutiny, and every action is a trap waiting to be picked and pried open to reveal its flaws.
Exhausted, she would go to sleep. But not really.
Her dreams were of love and hope, all those things that they said weren't real, and she would wake up from a beautiful nightmare that promised everything she wanted. Everything was now, they said, the now changes, and her now when she would be older would be different, with a different her, and a different set of rules of the mind that would fill her with regret and wisdom that would laugh at what she used to be.
They used patronising little terms of endearment to belittle her to this blip on the radar of life, beepbeep in the forest she went, unheard and merely an annoyance for the mighty.
“This is just an infatuation, dear.”
“You know better than to go after him, love.”
“Oh, poor you, so naïve and so foolishly determined, poor sweetie.”
Insults, these were, and she felt them the way the youth feel the narrow-mindedness of their previous generation steamrolling their individual desires into the ground. Their sighs of superiority filled the air around her, thickening it into claustrophobic vapour. She would choke herself to sleep, to go back into her nightmares, away from being misunderstood as a girl, as a woman-too-soon.
Her yellow somnolent heart sang her lullabies, and with words of love under her tongue, trapped by a meek resolve, she counted every new day, every new hour, and every new conversation borne of her apparent infatuation. Their barrage of opposing opinions experienced a miniscule defeat at her insistence, but they remained, shadows in the background, ready with a whisper at every misstep. Her footfalls were interrupted by enormous pauses, where she would consider every move she made, for they echoed loud enough to reach the ears of all whose misjudgement she was the focus of. But she took these steps nonetheless, brave warrior puppet cutting her strings with the sword of her mistaken vanity.
“Oh, child of Youth, seed of fairy tales and folklore, what do you know of Love? If your love is so strong, why do you not release it from its crimson cage so that it fills his ears with the advent of your womanhood?”
She could not reply; she didn't know how to. She had no answer to these questions. Cut strings reattached themselves to her perspiring back, digging underneath the skin still raw from recent removals. What brave warrior was she? Courage snickered behind the ears of the lioness' absent mane, scared to pounce onto the flesh of the soul unaware. Weaker, she waited, and moulded to the wishes of their sibilant tongues.
Momentous revelations are a thing of movies and literature, shallow and convenient, too often with lack of enough cause. Revelations in life, they are not a moment, they are the succession of different instances that collide to an expected arrival, not sudden, not exclusive to a single point of one's life. Her revelation was realised in the midst of an exchange, when her tongue felt loose, and her confidence answered the call of her voice. She confessed her desires, and startled ears humbled, listened.
Other words were said, but those did not matter. There were awkward silences and mutters of apologies, failed attempts at reconciliation. She went home, a casualty of faith, and tucked her soft head under the pillow and soaked her sheets grey. A foetus, she felt her heart with her knees and sensed the beat of it sing a different lullaby. It startled her.
There was pain, inexorably. But this pain, it felt so real, it was everywhere. She could feel it in the wetness of her salty lips and taste it in the dryness of her mouth. She could hear it scream and whisper her agony, and smell it in the ugliness of the snot at the tip of her tongue. How wonderfully miserably she was.
She slept, eventually. She didn't stop dreaming the same dream, or hearing the same voices. But the strings, they broke free by themselves. She was living within the ductile bars of her heart, but the bars were real. This was the now, the now of today, and its change was inevitable. But the now of tomorrow would change as well. The lioness' mane shone, and she roared a silent roar. She was woman. Tangible.
By S. N. Rasul
| Issues | The Daily Star Home|
© 2011 The Daily Star