A Moment That Smells of You

Sprawled on the bed, your dusky skin smells of a scent that reminds me of one certain evening from my childhood, pink skies, the summer wind and vanilla ice cream.

My fingers gently reach to your skin, I hear your breath escaping your lips, making a raspy sound, eyes sealed shut.
My eyes wander on your bare body, strong and sturdy but somehow vulnerable and free.. delicate.

I let my fingertips feel your body, the little moles on your chest, the tiny scar on your stomach, I try to recollect the story of how you got it, for a brief moment.
I couldn’t.

I follow the veins on your arms like little children walking on empty train tracks.

I look at your sleeping face and linger my fingers on your lips, I wonder where all they have been, the bodies they have kissed, the people they have wanted, the faces they have chosen to touch.

Our tangled legs below seem like an unsolvable riddle, the future maybe. I try to move away but your heavy limbs trap me beneath them.
I like being captured under the heaviness of your presence, your reality. It is vastly different from mine, I like the uncertainty of where I could possibly fall, I always have.

I inch closer to sense your breath softly brush by my head and intertwine with my hair.

As your chest pumps up and down filling you with life my palm reaches to feel your heartbeat.

The melody of Je te laisserai des mots fills the room from the neighbouring house of a married couple in their late forties.
I feel you stir a little, eyes hinting to open at any moment, the soft light of the setting sun grazing your face.

You give out a sigh of content and open your eyes with a smile and shut them again.

I hum along with the music filling the air and wonder if this nakedness is all that fills us up,
where will this lead to?
will we be dancing to rhythms in our late forties or will we be passing by on the sidewalk as strangers, faintly recalling the physical imprints on each other’s skin?

I feel the warm bed under your body and suddenly I am cold with the realisation that in a few days, I will be humming a new chorus on my bed but with a different bundle of skin and bones, energy and soul, gaze and words lying in your place.

And I will be speculating about the precise similar things while the winter sunsets and my neighbours sway hand in hand.



Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

So long

Something calls me home, asks me what I have been doing all this while away,
Stuck in a rut, stuck somewhere, far away from a loving hand, far away from the weaving winds, from the cool breeze on a summer evening, distant from the comfort of enveloping arms and warm skin and that old cup, chipped at the rim from which you sipped milk when you were young, then tea on evenings with your parents, as you were growing up.

You remember the day you started noticing their fine lines and greying hair on one of your short visits that your mother always used to complain about.
But you always had an excuse.

You remember watching them walk around the house and they had gotten slow in their movements, you notice the little changes in the house and it all points towards lethargy of old age. You wonder for a while how quickly they have grown old and how you didn’t notice it in all of your yearly visits home.

As you talk you realise how your mother has stopped complaining about your short visits and your father, who wasn’t much of a conversationalist has started narrating to you what all the neighbours have been up to while you were away. And you wonder if he is talking to fill the silence in the room, the silence which is requesting you to come back, to stay for a while, to sit in the room you grew up in and look around it, to sit and notice how you don’t fit in anymore and it is not just your size, it is you.

Some times when you look out of the bedroom window you see the children playing and whining about their mothers calling them back home and in that moment you would give anything to be on that field and listen to your mother calling you back inside the house from the window.


A lot of success waits for you at the place which you now try to call home, a lot of money, a lot of people too.

You remember the initial days where you were relentlessly yearning to be out there, stay somewhere away from your little house that grew tinier day by day for the great dreams that you have always had.
Now that you have achieved the things that you wanted, you ask yourself, was leaving worth it?
You never answer it.
It’s a looming question just like the silence in the house but when you look at your parents sitting in the garden and sipping tea with the third chair empty beside them, you know the answer.

When they laugh, you think of how many stories you have missed,
When they help each other get up from the chair or the bed, you think of how many times you have missed the moment in which you could hold their hands and help them with something as simple as standing up.

Some times, when your parents are talking to you on the day before you leave, you sense the hesitation in their weary voice.
You know what they are trying not to say just to avoid meeting with the staple answer “Ma, I have too much work waiting for me”

On certain days, you think of taking them with you to the city that made your dreams become your reality but when you look around the place that you grew up in, you would never take that away from them, the feeling of home, the feeling of the warm sun, the garden table and so many little things that you had to give up for the life you wanted to have.

When you travel from your home to the house you have been trying to make into a home, you pass by your entire childhood.
There is a naked feeling, like being in your lover’s arms, who knows each and every inch of you, knitting in and out of your soul, weaving the fabric of memories that flood your mind on days you don’t have to keep up with the new city and its people.
You pass by, every corner and turn, it reminds you of how life used to be.

Life used to be at home, waking up to your mother’s call, your father playing an old song, while he waters the plants and hums.
Life now is about the beeping sound in the morning, rushed coffee and talking to people who would rather not spend time knowing about who you really are.

When that voice in your mind questions you about how have you been away from home for so long, you really don’t know the answer.
How?
As time passes it gets easier and at the same, it gets harder to stay away from home. Only someone away from home would understand how the walls back home try to pull you back inside and whisper to you to stay for a while.

Somehow in this new city, with all these people around you, you are exactly where you needed to be, at the same time you are not, you are lost, at the same time found, you are strong at the same time vulnerable, you don’t want to stop but on some days you wake up wanting to stay still and something in the air on such days calls you back home to the soft cold winds and your mother’s smile while looking at the long stretch of road in front of the house, bringing you back to her, back home.

Breaking loose of memories ( a try)

I penned a sad song and you were my muse,

I made an effort to sing but my stomach was in knots,

All that came out was my voice from the past,

Screaming for you to sit by my side,

Hold my hand to stir me away from the rims of our existence that might cut me up in pieces and bleed me to death.

I thought of all the fuzzy evenings and blurred nights,

And all that I remembered was the scent on your neck,

I took a deep breath imagining you were right by my side but all I got was the stench of my sadness.

It trickles through my veins like the bad wine on our first date.

I think of your eyes gleaming at the most insignificant things, a shiny piece of scrap, a balloon, yellow walls, branches in the sky,

And some times at me.

It made me feel special but I was mistaken, for I was insignificant too.

The stars and the moon from our numerous nights appear duller by the day,

It is the odd hollow feeling in my chest which does not get filled by gulping down the fifth glass of whiskey nor does it get filled with having someone on the bed by my side,

If anything, it gets deeper and darker and the panic of being alone rises up in my stomach and reaches my heart,

And suddenly it’s hard to breathe with the montage of you in my mind playing every minute like a tragic song I can’t get rid of.

Tragic and beautiful.

I try to evade things that remind me of you but they are too many,

And I run, my love,

I run till my feet burn and my chest explodes,

I run till my head aches and my mouth dries,

But for how long and how far?

How much more escaping could possibly be left but what if there was no escaping at all?

And my feet bleed just like my heart does and my body is giving up just like my mind has,

But I rise every morning,

I try to sing

And my stomach gets in knots

and I run, love.

I run till my legs can’t stand and vision gets blurred,

And that is the lone moment of my day where your memory faints for an instant.

That brief moment of freedom and pain,

I live for it every single day.

Patterns

So many of us go through life as it comes about,

Mundane little things that keep us immersed in routines,

Routines we are too comfortable with, rituals with no purpose,

Habits which fool us into believing that this is what life is: dry, with an occasional splash of colour, with an occasional sudden movement out of our shackled little pattern of living.

You will teach your kids this pattern, I’ll teach mine, they will teach their little ones and humanity will go on through the exact patterns repeated so many times that when you look back it’s not a life that you lived, you lived a schedule.

And once in a while you would come across one in a million people, who crumpled their routine and threw it away and you will wonder to yourself, “I wish that was me”, have lunch and then go back to your structured, nicely planned life.

Us

Some times my mind revolves around one thought all night.

It is so overwhelming, I feel my heartbeats falling silent.

“Why me?”, I think.

//

Someone once told me that things happen to you if they have to.

When we met, I said it was meant to be but you said you don’t believe in fate.

When you got up from that little chair in the bistro which had seen our entire relationship unfurl under its roof, I said that we can work it out and you said this was meant to be.

//

There is a flower vase lying at the corner of my room with a few scratches on it,

There is a half-eaten plate of food on the floor,

A wine bottle too, your favourite,

A book which we left reading halfway through,

And a shattered me on the bed,

All hanging tight for you to return and put them in their place.

//

I sit in my on my patio and play that day in my mind persistently.

“What could I have done?”

There is a picture of us on the wall, my eyes catch a glimpse of it every now and then.

//

You asked me once what I would do if you ever left,

And then you laughed, laughed like it was the most absurd thought that anyone could ever make up.

I never got to answer.

If you stumble into this house now, you will see the answer.

//

It has been a while and I have ceased asking questions,

Our photo catches my glimpse for the nth time in a day, I stand up to take the little frame down ourmy wall.

It takes so much of strength to hold it and look at it from such close proximity.

I sit and observe the minute subtleties of your delicate face and flowing hair, it feels like peeling the scab off wounds which are trying hard to heal.

//

It has been one year and there are still two big boxes lying on the bedroom floor with every insignificant thing that even remotely holds the sentiment of us.

The house feels empty and I have learned to put things in their place by myself.

To put me in place.

I still do lie on the couch and imagine the house like it used to be but I am getting there.

I don’t know where.

But somewhere.

At least I hope so.

//

The hardest things to throw away are your clothes.

They are the only things that smell of you.

Delicate and fragrant, much the same as your essence.

//

I blame the memories,

I have started to despise the entire notion of memories.

My world has quit moving.

It is stuck in the replay of memories and flashbacks.

Only if it was easy to push them back in an obscure void of my mind like you already must have done.

I some times wonder which version of me lives in the corners of your mind.

//

But I feel a piece of you living inside of me.

Despite everything, I drink my morning espresso sitting idle beside your empty chair.

I flip through the various movies in my cabinet and have a mental conversation with you before selecting one.

I pick your favourite food without a second thought,
stroll around the park you used to like.
A part of me still wants to live the life I had with you but the other part violently screams, “No”…

Reminiscence

The words of our song fill my house with their melancholic longing, just like every evening I have spent after you dwindled away.

I sit by my little window on the second floor and look down.

It’s eight in the evening and she’s waiting, fiddling with her hair, gently resting on the car parked behind her. It must have been a long day for her but she waits just like clockwork, every single day.

At eight-fifteen sharp, her face lights up, he’s still a block away, on his bike.

Her body perks up,

she smiles her brightest. Maybe the brightest in all day.

He stops right in front of her and sighs, exhausted from all his office work, I assume. She leans in for a kiss.

He smiles his brightest. Maybe the brightest in all day.

Her hands reach for his shoulder, she pats him, kisses the side of his forehead and climbs up behind him.

The streetlight is falling on them and in that moment, it’s just them there and me in my room, looking at the regular ritual unfold down the street.

All my days go by in mundane, insignificant things, but not this hour of the day, not these minutes and not all these seconds where I am a part of something.

Something as intimate as them.

They have come to become a part of my life, my routine, my absolute source of happiness.

I like to think of them as our own imaginary  happily ever after, riding away at eight-twenty sharp, from below my window towards their own little world.

And I pray to God, if there really is any out there, to not let her stop waiting, to not let him stop riding his bike to the spot where she waits, under the White Cheesewood tree, under that exact yellow streetlight.

If not us then them; I think to myself each day when she kisses his shoulder ever so lightly before they roar away on his bike, away from my sight.

Some times I feel, I was meant to be a part of their story more than I was meant to be of yours.
A better story.

On some days, your words  come back to haunt me like recurring nightmares.

“You can’t be part of anyone’s life, you can’t ever be happy, you damaged, damaged man”, you scream.

But look, love, look, there are two  people  who meet  under my window every single living day and they make me happy.
I am a part of their lives.
And even though the sad song fills my room every evening, there is one happy song that plays under my window, on the street.
A song that tells me to live, to see it play again  the day after.

And in that, I find my strength.
And in that, I find my solace.

Converge

She pointed to the place right at the centre of her chest, in between her breasts, looked up at me and whispered,

“Here’s where the two worlds meet”

“Which worlds?”, I asked, my fingers tracing the skin on her chest while staring into her brown eyes.

“Yours and mine, theirs and ours, worlds we talk of, worlds we don’t know of”

I kissed where the worlds met.

She chuckled and wrapped her lips with her slender fingers,

And now.. they are in bliss”

“Why is that?”

“That is what your kiss is like, blissful”

I sat on the same bed for some time, after all those years, where once a woman lay.

A woman whose body was a confluence of worlds, every inch of her skin touched by my breath, my fingertips missed the lengths of her hair, her endless skin and bones.

I glanced at her smiling shyly, from the picture by my bedside.

“Papa!”, a little girl jumped on me and fell on the bed, giggling.

I held her in my arms and looked into her piercing brown eyes.

“This is where our worlds meet now”, I whispered and smiled.

“I don’t understand, papa”, she looked up at me, confused and curious.

“But Mumma does”, I caressed her cheeks, familiar skin.

“Mumma can hear us ?”

From another world, which meets right here, I pointed to her chest, precisely where I had always known worlds to meet.

Chimes.

Do you have the little clock by your bed that I gifted you because your phone alarm wasn’t enough?

Does it still ring in the morning?

Do you wake up to it, thinking of me? Or does the sound fade, becoming white noise in the backdrop just like I faded away all those years ago?

I hope sometimes that you wake up thinking of us,

thinking of time freezing and wine filling our veins,

thinking of legs tangled on the bed like the branches of trees in the sky as we once lay under them on a breezy summer afternoon.

But… I sincerely hope you don’t hear it ringing,

ringing with sorrow,

ringing with loneliness,

ringing with promises of comfort only exchanged over texts,

ringing with egos conflicting and words ripping our lips with their sharp edges,

blood spilling, only to collect into a pool to swallow us in.

Do you set it at seven a.m?

Or does it chime an hour later so that you don’t have the chance to turn over and face the wide and empty bed before leaving for work?

I do, on some days, turn over maybe just to see the impression of your body on the mattress from all the mornings you left without saying goodbye.

I sigh,

and maybe,

all those miles apart,

lying on your bed,

you sigh too.

Pandemonium

In those moments of joy, when he is laughing his heart out, he sighs a little, as her laugh rings in his ears.

In the incessant string of moments when love couldn’t handle conflict, connection failed, words ceased to exist, she left him, like a cold breeze on a summer afternoon which caresses you in the best way possible and wanes away.

She withered away,

they withered away.

Despite everything he sits there and laughs. Laughs like he has forgotten everything, laughs like he doesn’t look back twice every day wondering, what went wrong.

Could he have saved them?

Were they meant to be saved in the first place?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

On some days, going through his routine life, he stops.

He stops while eating the last bite,

he stops when that song plays,

he stops when he enters his kitchen,

he stops when he thinks he has spotted her in the crowd but realises with a tinge of grief that it’s not her.

He halts with such suddenness.

He realises it’s not her, her pictures or any tangible thing that halts him in the midst of his life which he tries hard to put together every single day.

It’s just him and the feeling of emptiness that makes him pause and wonder,

“Is this it?”

Home

Standing with his bare feet to the ground, head tilted up to the dawning sky, eyes shut and the cold air filling up his lungs, his mind wandered,

Where do I belong?

A part of him lay in the old stardust, another one in the planets and more in the sun and the moon.

He slowly opened his eyes, the sky with the fading twinkles and the hint of the first sun rays unexpectedly left him with a feeling, a feeling of something missing.

A part of him, existing somewhere, he had never been.

The cool breeze weaved through his hair.

Where do I belong?

The dawn, stars, the moon, the glowing sun, all spoke through the air, and fading light,

“Somewhere here..”

His lips curled as he stared at the vastness of the never-ending sky above him. It made him homesick, but it was not his home up there

or was it?

An unusual longing tugged his heart.

It wasn’t about belonging.

It was about home.

Where is home?

Here

Here, where?

In the leaves that rustle,

In the breeze that touches your skin,

In the skin, your body longs for,

In the sand filling between your toes,

In the hands, you reach to hold,

The place that your face smiles at.

Here and everywhere your heart wanders to.