The author of this piece lost all memory of a girl he used to be in love with after undergoing 12 ECTs (Electroconvulsive Therapy) during his treatment.
Hi! I am Rohil. I do not like explaining myself and I cannot describe myself. In any case, you will not need any description after reading the summary from the last seven days of my life. Are they special to me? Yes, they are. For the first time in these 22 years, I have been with a girl. A physical human specimen, for seven consecutive days, feeling happy at the end. Who is she? I do not know. I don’t even know her name. And who am I? I do not know that as well. She is a woman and I am a man, and we communicate with and without words. Why am I writing this? For whom? I am deprived of readers and admirers. I have taken a pen in hand after a year and a half. Those who broke their legs in an accident start walking again in 6 months and I, who lost my mental health, am still reluctant to start thinking again. Yet I am writing today because that same girl named unknown wanted me to write something, anything, today.
She is one person who knows I am a writer or better, I was. She knows many things about me. She must have been close to me before I lost my memory in ECT’s. Today I am not interested in finding out. I wasn’t depressed before they gave me shock treatments, but now I am dumb, even after 1 year of that horrible episode. We don’t ask why or how after a certain age. It’s a beautiful construction. Just 3-4 years of your life decides your entire existence. All you are and all that you will ever be, is in those 4 years. Conquer yourself in those years and you’ll conquer the world for the rest of your life. Mediocrity is an illness and there is no vaccine for it. No doctors. All those psychologists, all those psychiatrists, all those gurus, all those philosophers, no one! They are just as lost as their audiences are. And where do I stand in all this mess? I stand where all those stand before me, those who were part of the world when they were living and became the world in themselves after they died. Giants as Newton called them and me, in no way one of them, but I am as left out as they were.
I was left out on 8 April this year in a wedding ceremony of some distant cousin of mine. I was sick of answering the same questions. It was at night, a Hindu wedding ceremony. Middle-class parents like my father earn their living to celebrate the wedding of their children, which will not be spreading happiness just after a year. I have hated relatives especially from the past 2 years. I hate my parents as well. My ever-so-great father and his mistress, that stepmother of mine. So I had no company at that family festival. I was as engulfed as I always am in my reading, over my smartphone, when a hand tapped me on my shoulder. It took two taps for me to acknowledge the presence of someone. As I turned around I saw a beautiful face. I can see her brown eyes talking with me through her glasses, I do not stare at people’s eyes for long. Eye contact is too much for me, but this was something different.
“Rohil,” she said, as soft as one can speak, cold, delivery of words, deprived of any attached emotion.
“Sorry?” that’s what I said instead of a formal “Yes.” As nobody from my family calls me Rohil, she must have been someone who knows the other me. I liked her hair, her black dress, you do not generally wear black in the ceremony. She was a little bit taken aback after my response. She looked perplexed. She must have expected a different answer from me. Without taking my eyes off her, I spoke with great effort “Sorry, I can’t recall you…”
She didn’t say anything for what I guess to be one complete minute and utters with a tremble in her voice “And I don’t wanna remember you.”
There were tears in her eyes, watching intently at me through the blur, and to my surprise, I inherited her feelings. I was crying after a year for no apparent reason. I wanted to embrace her even though I am sensitive to human touch. Then there was another knock on my shoulder, this time it was my father who wanted me to meet another person. She was not afraid of his presence. Instead I saw terror in his eyes when he saw her. Who was she? Whoever she was, she must have been somebody that I met in the other world.
After exactly five steps, when I turned around, she wasn’t there anymore. Terror is a synonym of Love. When you love somebody, you’re terrified of the world. My past poems suggest this. I searched for her after that for more than an hour in that carnival, until the minute we decided to leave . It wasn’t the first time I was searching for the lost moment, but I tried anyway. Then we mounted the car my father owns and drove mostly with me in the passenger seat. With My stepmother, and her son at the back. We traveled in silence with no music for some 20 minutes when my father asks,
“Who was that girl?” I do not know why I turned around to look back after he asked the question but I saw her driving a bike, following us, though she was wearing a helmet and I could not see her face. I knew it was her . I smiled.
“Which girl?” I answered.
“The one you were talking to before I came” I was expecting this, the beginning of the debate.
“I don’t know, some stranger.” He looked at me a little longer than a driver should while driving. He knew something I could sense. He was happy after hearing my reply. He changed the subject.
“I have talked with the doctor about your memory loss… he says it’s normal for half of the people who have gone through therapy.” Why is it always just Therapy!
“Being through ECT, Electroconvulsive Therapy!”
I have expected his trademark remark “Oh Come on, now you should concentrate on studies rather than what happened in the past.”
It isn’t just a past but a continuation of the past.
“But why? Why me?”
“It’s because of you only we had to institutionalize you.” All I could do was smile. How can I ask my past self when there is no trace of him. All there is, is that writing which they did not burn of which I can’t make any sense. It is certainly not written by a “sane” person. So basically they all are right. I was insane. But then I must be insane now as well, just a certified one.
I should have kept silent but I replied, “You’re the most selfish person I have ever met on this planet, Aaba.”
He took a break now “And you’re the most difficult kid I have seen in my entire career.” I was ok with what he said but I like to confront only one person on this planet and so I continued, “You’re very fond of your career so far, aren’t you? Let me tell you as a son of your first wife you haven’t implemented a thing in your own life that you preach to other people.”
I never accepted the woman sitting in the back seat as my mother though I am taught to call her that from childhood. She was and will always be the second wife of my father though I have no knowledge of his first wife, my mother. I hate relations and the formal tags and formalities that exist between them. And maybe because as he said that day in the last sentence before we parked our car “You’re ‘mad’ according to the world, not me.” I turned around to see if an unknown woman was following us home and yes she was there, under a tree whether looking at me or our car, I don’t know.
There should be a camera that can capture our dreams and thoughts when we are sleeping. I don’t know anything about that night or the other night since I am taking pills. I do not dream anymore, no type of dream. Although I always feel when things happen or I meet some new people that I have met before, it wasn’t like that with her. It was a new experience, an unknown one between known souls. The next day when I switched on my mobile, I had one missed call notification for an unknown number. When I called back, I heard her voice, this time confident. We greeted each other good morning and not as a just formality but it certainly was a good morning. She said she was waiting for me in XYZ Cafe for more than 45 minutes.
I wasn’t tense today while talking with her, I said, “And what if I do not come?”
“Well, then I will wait for you tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow and so on as long as you do not block my contact,” I knew she wasn’t kidding so I hurried and met her outside the cafe, 30 minutes after our call. She smiled and led me inside, keeping a distance.
Not long before we settled down on a corner table away from the gaze of others, I asked her an obvious question “Where did you get my number?” Instead of answering me, she just stared at me, trying to make sense of my face or something.
“You’ve still got few friends” was a question or a statement, I am not sure. I change the subject to avoid her penetrating eyes.
“Same as you, a black coffee.” I smiled.
“Unfortunately my family has banned me from that”
“I know.” Same plane statement. How should she know? I let the time pass away waiting for her explanation but then I cannot stop for more.
“Who are you?”
“I won’t tell you today.” It was quick as if she had rehearsed the answer.
“Then why are we here?”
“For the same reason.” Same reason! What is that!
“Which reason?” Now it was her time to smile and release the tension.
“Understanding reasons behind this situation” Before I could say something, the waiter arrived with two black coffees as if he had guessed what we wanted, because none of us ordered anything, not in my presence. We drank our respective coffees without speaking a word. She was looking at me all the time, I was avoiding her gaze. I would have cried right away if I had stared into her eyes any longer. Was it some guilt? Was I guilty of something? Or had I found my dead mother in her, looking like a lost child? It was something different, I never felt the same sensations before, and honestly, I do not feel anything nowadays. I am as senseless as a machine. But there was some presence there.
“What did you tell your father? Where are you going?”
“I told him I am meeting an old friend” She smiled again.
“Now you will have to tell him, you met that same stranger.” As I followed her gaze behind me there he was, a spy, my father who was following me but he left now as he caught my eyes. I was furious.
“Is this some detective fiction? Who are you a secret agent?”
She composed herself before speaking the following words very carefully “Somebody once told me, my purpose is to fuck CBI, FBI and let them know I ain’t got no judge and no judgment.”
I knew those lines I had read in my diary. My writings were psychotic, as I call them. Now I was sure it wasn’t just some game. Something was happening. I was part of something once again.
“Who told you my name?”
“That’s not important.”
“What’s your name?”
“I won’t tell you today” means it was just the beginning of our meetings. I took her hand in mine for the first time in my life, I was holding the hand of a girl.
I was honest “I don’t know who you are… I am sorry I can’t remember you… but I request you, don’t waste your time with me… I have only a few days to live, I am going to die.”
She was as cold as ever “I know.”
“No! You don’t know!” another “I know.”
What was that, an answer? Does she know that she does not know? Our hands were bound together.
She kissed my hand and said “Let’s spend these remaining days of your life together”
I left her hands. I was not sure. However, she was on the other hand.
“Will you have Maggi?” Is what she said. We ate Maggi afterwards, almost without any spoken words. I left for home. She was standing near the gate. She said she will pay the bill.
I arrived home and my father wasn’t there. Gone for work. His second wife wasn’t there either and my step brother was watching a cartoon in the living room. It was 9:30 am. I spent almost 1 and ½ hours with her. I got back to my red room. Yeah, the bedroom that I share with my brother is painted red on all sides, with 3 same red bedsheets to use alternatively. Red curtains. One study table, one chair, one computer, one laptop, one large cupboard, etc. I got fresh,had my lunch at 11:30 am before my brother left for his school. I took the pills and slept. They have a habit of locking me every day with one key given to me for an emergency. I did not go out last year, I hated facing people. My life now was now all about having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sleeping. I spend a few hours reading, I am not interested in films anymore. I do not find privacy to watch them. And I am no longer sure of me being a filmmaker. Yet I enjoy re-watching my five short films. Editing that unfinished film of mine, made out of the budget of Rs 60000. Nothing came out of it, not even an experience as just in one month of it I was facing ECT’s. Why am I not remembering anything? I lost all my notes on a train… I lost my memories in a hospital. Anyway, I woke up that day and went out to check if my father had come home. His bag was there on the sofa. He must be washing up. I went back to my room and closed the door.
I was just checking messages which I do not usually see when I heard a knock on the door as he was holding the door open with one hand “May I come in?” he said .
He wasn’t allowed to disturb my privacy, but there was no privacy. He came in anyway. He sat on the bed and after a look at the room “What are you doing?”
“I am doing nothing”
“How do you do nothing?” It was not funny. I locked my mobile. Put it on the bed and sit with my hand folded on my chest facing him.
“What do you need? Why don’t you leave me alone in peace?”
“Your solitude was the major element in your diagnosis” I smiled.
“What diagnosis? It’s just hogwash. Exploitation.” I was not ready to accept that I am a Schizophrenic or Bipolar disorder patient. Even before I got diagnosed, I used to say ‘All teachers, all doctors, all psychologists, all commerce people are a hoax. They shouldn’t be doing their jobs if they were a little conscious.’ And he was sick of hearing that all the time.
“How many times do I have to remind you of your past?” The same question a million times in the last year and the same answer “It was a phase and it’s normal. In fact, these medications I am subjected to are an issue now. I need to get rid of them as soon as possible. They will kill me otherwise.”
“I am glad to know, you’re eager to live” he was mean. I did not reply.
“Why have you come here now?”
“Do I need a reason to be in my son’s room?”
“Of course you do. You have no right to disturb me anymore… enough is enough, Sir.” To my surprise, he left.
Was I hurting him? There was an understanding between us at a certain age but there was only hatred in me for him for the last few years. It wasn’t what Freud found in his theory, it was different. I was expecting her message but wasn’t sending one myself. I tried calling her though but it was switched off. I couldn’t find her true caller, and that number wasn’t on Facebook. I had dinner and slept.
The next morning she had messaged, “Would you prefer the same Cafe or another?”
I just replied, “I am coming.”
When my father asked, “Where am I going?” I told him “I will be going out and won’t be locked up in one room forever”
When I arrived at the Cafe and looked out to see if somebody was following me she laughed. She looked gorgeous.
“Don’t worry, your father won’t be following you”
“And how can you be sure?”
“Just trust me” and I did. You can only trust unknown people. When we went inside all the tables were occupied except the one we sat yesterday as if it was already reserved for us. “So did you dream of me today?” she asked .
“Not at all, I do not dream anymore.”
“You used to daydream a lot. Everybody used to make fun of you and you were unaware of that.”
“I knew something others did not, not even you.” What did she know?
“Do you still know something I do not know?”
She thought for a moment “I have stopped thinking about the future for a long time now.” We kept silent for a few minutes. The waiter wasn’t coming today, as if he was giving us time to converse.
“You know you can’t avoid disasters after any amount of preparation. They are omens of god. Our life is under his control and all we have to do is control ourselves and stick to his ways.”
I kept silent and she continued “You cannot avoid regrets, fears after all the meditation game. Rohil, many times you are expected to take action but you do not and other times you’re just expected to keep quiet and go on doing one useless thing after another.”
She was confused. She did not know what she wanted to say and said all these things. She started sobbing uncontrollably, it was sudden and I did not dare to look into her eyes. What was she guilty of? What was it? I saw the same waiter watching us from one corner and to control the situation he brought our black coffee. She controlled herself and smiled at him. He smiled back. They must know each other.
“I don’t know your name. I don’t know how you know my name. I don’t know how you know things about me that even I don’t know. But now I know one thing for sure. Once I knew things about you that you didn’t know.” She smiled.
She composed herself again. It’s quick. “I hate old you and now I don’t want you to be the same, you understand?”
“What was he like?”
“Not at all like the present you”
“But I crave for him. I don’t like changing identities.”
“Do you think this coffee we are drinking is the same every day?”
“No, it’s not. And so humans aren’t the same the minute you leave them, although you will be seeing them in the next hour, you’ll see a different one .”
I had nothing to argue further. We finished our coffees. We had no Maggi today and we left the cafe. I cannot find the bike I thought she was riding the first day we met. She must have walked here. I left today with surety that she would message me tomorrow morning. When I arrived home, my father was watching TV and welcomed me with a ‘good morning.’ I was preparing to answer his questions and waited for them. There weren’t any coming, so I asked him “Don’t you have any questions today?”
He just said, “I am happy.”
I don’t know what he meant. I left for my room. I didn’t sleep that afternoon. After our usual lunch. I took Leonardo Da Vinci’s biography by Walter Issacson that I purchased a few months ago, and read for more than 6 hours continuously. After almost a year of my lingering. In the evening, I brought all my photo albums from a small age and looked at myself. I was very thin back then and now I am 75 Kg 22 years old. I gained 20 Kg in the last year. I hate my shape now. I hate looking and thinking about myself. I had dinner, watched TV with everyone else, and then slept.
The next morning I had not heard from her . when I tried calling her, her mobile was switched off. I rode my bicycle to the same cafe and there she was holding her bicycle.
“I thought I won’t find you.” I hurried.
“I thought the same for an entire year.” She answered with the same coldness. I was anxious now. Why is she behaving so strangely? What was it that she needed?
“Let’s go for a trek today, what do you say?” She must be thinking of a hill some 12 Km from where we were. I nodded yes. We drove our respective bicycles.
“Why didn’t you message me today?” She did not answer.
“You should start working out now, at least cycling for 30 Km daily.” She talked after a few minutes.
“Yeah, I should. I don’t look good do I?”
“Nobody looks good after artificial recovery.”
“What do you mean?” Once again no answer.
We didn’t speak a word for the next 30 minutes till we reached our destination. She had brought two water bottles with her and I drank from one.
“Do you think of reasons why you haven’t had a girlfriend in these 22 years?”
“Yeah, I do often”
“And what do you conclude?”
“I never met somebody like you.” She laughed.
“Hm,” I nodded.
And she kissed me on the lips. My first kiss. I wasn’t expecting that and not from her. She was for me a psychologist so far. Who was I for her? What I was thinking after that was- who invented the kiss?
“You really can’t remember a thing, Rohil?”
“None, it hurts you know”
“Do you desire contact with your past?”
“hm” as she did not reply I continued “but at the same, I do not crave any relationship with people around me.”
“not even me?” I knew not what to say.
I just looked at her as we were trekking. I replied to her after a long time. “Yes I do.”
“you do what”
We sat at one point.
“We aren’t climbing further.” I didn’t ask why.
“You know it doesn’t matter where you stop. There is no destination. It doesn’t matter which path you took. Nothing matters. So be free to live as you desire, not as you are desired. Do you understand what I mean?”
“I don’t understand why you are saying these things.”
“Because you used to preach the same things”
“Do you mean I am not old at all?”
“I will not repeat myself.” We start descending.
“Have you ever had a boyfriend?” I wanted to know. She smiled. Took my hand in her hand. Pause for a minute. “I had once.” and nodded.
“What was he like?”
“He was a human.”
We boarded our bicycles and drove back to the cafe where we met today, happily.
“Where do you live?” I asked her when we arrived.
“Oh, you mean that place around the next corner.”
“Yeah, exactly,” She replied.
We parted our ways. When I arrived home my father wasn’t there. I helped my brother with his homework. I was happy today and I wrote a poem. I read it and I knew not whom I was referring to in it. It wasn’t her. It must be somebody from my past who is as irrelevant to me as this future is incomprehensible. I have nothing more to tell about that day. I read Da Vinci’s biography in the afternoon, ate and slept.
I messaged her for the first time ‘Will I awaken tomorrow or sleep will continue its spell… May I get to know you better or you will be as unpredictable as well… you found me unaware and not interested in awareness yourself.’ I waited for half-hour to get a delivery report at least but her phone must have been switched off.
It was day 5 of our meeting. There was no message from her. My yesterday’s message was delivered. Well, I knew somewhere I would find her at the Cafe. I got ready and arrived a little late. She wasn’t outside and I found her on our table but this time the sides had changed. She was sitting where I sat the last two times. Well, it’s not a big deal but then I have a habit of thinking over unnecessary things.
“You have started being late already” I was thrown back by her authority. I did not reply.
“You won’t awake now Rohil, I don’t think so, sleep has engulfed you.” I smiled.
“Oh you did read my SMS… isn’t that irrelevant here.”
“I don’t know. Have you ever listened to a madman… those from asylums… whatever they utter has a meaning not to them not even to doctors listening but to this universe.” I knew what she meant.
“I am trying to sit and stand where you were before but changing positions have no particular effect I can see. So it must be…” she stopped in mid-sentence. “Order a tea instead of coffee today and you’re forbidden by your family to drink coffee.” She called the same waiter. Was he reserved for us?
“2 Tea, 2 Maggie”
“He won’t be coming in the next 20 minutes.” She said, after he left.
“I am all ears now Rohil”
“I wasn’t sure what would happen to me till the moment you met me. I had a severe connection with life. There are people I have hurt and nobody has ever hurt me to understand what it means.” She was just listening as my doctor listened to me but not prescribing any medicine.
“I am deprived of emotions and now I am deprived of an urge. Everything seems distant now.It does not matter where I stand. I am always in the middle of incomprehensible people. I differ from their ecstasies. I would be a good detective now, as I doubt almost everything and everyone. And you would be a good judge.”
“And how is that?”
“You have no opinions on anything”
“Do judges not possess opinions?”
“No, they do not, they develop their temporary views for every case and give their judgment based on what has been taught to them for years.”
“I am not judging anybody and least of all, you. So you better keep your theory to yourself. I am not with you because I want something from you. I am not interested in changing you because you have no notion of you.”
Tea with Maggi arrived a little earlier than expected.
“I have no notions of the past that’s why I am not interested in the future,” I mutter.
She smiled, “Maggie is good.”
“Tell me you really don’t know or you pretend you don’t know,” she asked as casually as if all these days were just a drama played out by a method actor.
“ What do you think?” I asked her and now she was serious.
“Girls are easily deceived.” She continued “I am furious about a few decisions that I made and now I am taking time for a decision. It’s not that I am in a hurry, it’s just I don’t believe in procrastination which is a vicious cycle.”
“You know what, I don’t talk much nowadays but I want to converse with you about everyday things, things that happen and matter.”
“You have not an everyday mind. You don’t live within the boundaries of a day.” Yeah, she was right.
“Is it a blessing or a curse?”
“A curse.” I do not argue further. We had our tea. I paid the bill.
“He won’t ask for that ever, you’re an exception.”
“I don’t know him”
“You don’t know, the people know you.”
“Ok. Bye. I won’t be texting you today.”
“I will accompany you to your place.” We walked in silence for quite a distance .
“Were you following us the night we met or was it just my imagination?”
“No, it was me. I am no more your imagination.”
“Are you a student like me or do you work somewhere?”
“I left studies and I don’t wanna settle working.”
“Oh, what do you do exactly?”
“I am solving a puzzle and I am part of it”
“Maybe a year or so” she stopped in the middle of the road and asked, “will you kiss me here?”
I looked around, “they will call us mad,” she laughed and I smiled.
“you’re a real thief, you fear to get caught and work underground”
“well, I can go on alone from here”
“I never doubt that”
“Bye,” she said and turned. I didn’t answer.
I had not messaged her and she wasn’t at the Cafe either. I drank coffee alone and decided not to call or message her. I came home when my father was leaving for work. “It seems you are getting acquainted with a stranger.” I smiled.
“Will you give me a hug?” asked I.
He hugged me. It had been ages since I desired his touch. I knew we would be fighting once again in a few hours but something has changed since I met her. I wasn’t sure of myself anymore. I didn’t like what she was trying to help me figure out. I was calm, though there wasn’t any tension. My father had calmed himself down. Silence is penetrating. Now I know why I can’t meditate. I should be meditating and I sat still with my eyes closed for more than an hour that day when nobody was home. It was the first time I had sat in one place for such a long time.
I had this striking visual that day of a Rabbit running endlessly in a symmetrical forest and, in the end, he died out of breath. It was four in the evening when I opened my mobile after almost 6 hours and to my surprise, I had her message. She was asking me to come to the garden by 6 PM. I didn’t reply. I left in 15 minutes although I knew she wouldn’t be there that soon. I had taken with me a file of my poems written back in 2017. I arrived at the garden and sat under a tree, quite a secluded spot.
I opened that file and started reading once again, what I had written years back, with incorrect grammar. It would not have made sense even if it was written in proper grammar. Yet I was so proud of my thinking and writing back then. I am waiting for the completion of my incomplete film where in one scene I burnt this file. I don’t know if I will be able to complete it. Few things are better left incomplete. It wasn’t even five when she came there, as if she was already expecting me to come earlier.
“Hi!” She was happy today.
I said “Hi”, managing her enthusiasm.
“What have you got there? Some agreement from Fifty Shades?” I smiled.
“Will you sign that before you even read it?”
“Yeah, I will. I fear not for any agreement, any longer. I have made one myself .”
“There isn’t any agreement here”
“I know… it is the same file of your poems. Do you still write any?”
“No, I haven’t recently”
“You mean since the last one year.” She did not wait for my answer. “I want you to start writing tonight about your experience with me.”
“I will start tomorrow,” said I. She just smiled. “Let’s walk.”
We completed one single round in silence. when we arrived once again near that tree she asked me “Why did you come earlier today?”
“I was desperate”
“You were desperate!” She was surprised.
“Why did you come earlier?”
“Because I knew you were already here, desperate.” And she was serious now.
“Can you get away with pain, Rohil? Can anybody, I mean” I just nodded no to her.
“You try hard though,” she commented . “You haven’t kissed anybody before that day, have you?” I just smiled.
“I am asking you something”
“No, I haven’t.”
“But you always fantasized about that in your writing”
“Why did you do that”
“I don’t know”
“No, you know”
“Well maybe I wanted to kiss, first time”
“That’s the problem.. you always want to do everything, you never actually did it.”
“I am a dreamer and I can show you dreams” I bragged.
“I know. You just remained a dreamer with dreams. Or maybe you just displayed them but they remain just dreams.”
“And what about you? Have you ever achieved your dream?”
“I am a girl and I am at the end of achieving my last dream.”
“Does that dream include me?”
“You are the dream”
“Wait a second, can we just sit down”
“Sure” we sat for the next few minutes without sharing a word.
“What do you mean that dream is me?”
“I want to escape the misery of seeing imperfect you” I just stared into her eyes and she stared back after a few seconds. I just stood up and left while she was sitting there and did not say a word, nor did I resist when I turned back to look at her from a distance. She had that same stare. I came home. Locked myself up. Took a shower. Took a page and a pen and started writing down
I knew the end was coming
I knew not it was you who was a messenger
I was so fed up with humans
That I cannot distinguish between you and them
Girl, it’s ok what you said and it’s ok what you hide
I am the one causing you pain and you’re divine
Will you take me to heaven or will you drop me at hell
I am ready to go with you because I am sick of human ways
Yeah you guess right I am deprived of empathy
And you are right as well about my derision
There is just a question here.. how do you know me?
I see in your eyes that we share a past
I don’t know where you’re judging me on the basis of that?
My past is just my past, for you, it’s our past
Do we belong in the future, as I do not see the present as lasting …
I folded the paper and put it in the trouser I will be wearing tomorrow.
I had not messaged her today either. But as a ritual, I visited the Cafe where she was not there. Neither that waiter was there, who I thought may know her address. But there was a note on our table and nobody had looked at it or touched it. It read “2:30 PM near this cafe. Let’s roam the city on foot ☺” I knew who had written it in beautiful handwriting. I left the cafe without having coffee. At home all three of the remains were preparing to go somewhere. They asked me whether I was coming, which I was certainly not.
“You come early today,” commented my father.
“yeah, it’s getting irregular ” I spoke in gaps.
“Already?” was his question.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s the way it has to go.”
“You still can’t recognize who she is?”
“I have no idea”
“Well, get ready we are going”
“I am not coming”
“you have to get out of your shell now. Start meeting people”
“I will some other day, not now.” And I left for my room.
I was waiting for the clock to turn at 2:30. There was still that urge in me to show my writings to people and have their opinion. It doesn’t matter whether they understand it or not. I fell asleep until my father woke me up again. It was an hour later. I had my lunch after they left and tablets and I wanted not to fall asleep again. I started watching Tarkovsky interviews on YouTube. They were always helpful. It clocked 2:30. I locked the house and left the key with the neighbors. And left on my bicycle towards the Cafe. I knew she would be there but she wasn’t and I had to wait.
Then she came there, smiled, caressed my hair and kissed me on the forehead and then said “Let’s have a coffee first” as we came inside there was that same waiter, I was surprised.
I asked her, “What is the connection between him and you?”
“Us? We’re friends.”
And then neither of us said a word for 20 minutes until we finished coffee. I paid the bill and we went outside.
“Your father still pays you?”
“Pays you for what?”
“For being his son.” I laughed.
“Which world do you come from?”
“The one you belonged to” we started walking
“Where are we going?”
“To observe the city, all we have to remember is to come here where we have our bikes parked.”
After a minute I remembered her last comment.
“What does it look like, your world?”
“Not any different except for fewer people than this” she continued after hearing no reply from me “empty people like empty stores here they are the more attractive, representing a mere presence”
We were crossing some stores in line on both sides of the road on an empty street which was dreaded by customers .
“They live on savings made by their ancestors and little of what they make. You will be the same if you don’t change.” She stopped and looked at me and asked in a mild tone, “you’re ready for this?”
“ready for what?”
“Just yes or no, please”
I thought for the moment. I wasn’t sure what she was asking. I never had this moment of signing a blank page but I did agree with this human being in front of me and I said “yes”
She didn’t smile as expected but continued walking instead and I followed.
“You asked the same question to somebody 3 years ago and she said ‘no’”
She stopped me in mid-sentence “don’t mess up. You have forgotten the names of a few girls and the faces of others you were with before, for good.”
We roam that day throughout this small town which we call the city and return to the Cafe.
“Have you started writing yet?”
“Oh, I forgot I wrote this poem” and I gave her that folded page of the paper from yesterday.
“Good,” she said coldly and I thought there might be a discussion but I just agreed and hugged her, she hugged me back.
“Rohil, (pause) I would like to read how you describe these last seven days of your life. Meet me at the address I will text you tomorrow for lunch” I nodded yes and left.
She stands there watching me. That evening I started writing this story and when I was in the middle of it, I got a call from my father that they won’t be coming until next evening so I should have dinner at the hotel. I was left alone! After a year and a half… I was once again only present under these four walls… The solitude that I am always seeking even for a few hours was comforting. I decided not to go anywhere and took my pills without dinner.
He woke up late the next day and he was kind of happy. Somebody was ringing the doorbell. It was his neighbor Aunty who had received their milk for that day as he was asleep. He takes it from her and thanks her with a pleasing sorry. His neighbors don’t like him anymore like the rest of his surroundings. He doesn’t mind. He thinks he doesn’t belong here. He gets fresh. There wasn’t a coffee in their home so he drank milk instead. something flashed in his mind.. some words… He goes to his room and wrote the following –
Because I am…
I’m happy as I’m no longer a thinker
Or Am I happy because I can not think?
Is this a life or moving stillness?
What is the construction of sterile memories and fancied dreams?
I am living in this “new” world leaving behind ties, which brought me up
Will I be happy if I die today, at the end of writing the last word of this poem?
Sure, I am happy; I have seen the world following the line of vision of those few who were out of the vision of the normal world…
And if I happen to live few more years I won’t be changing even after many ECT’s
Because memory is not an essence and essence is not a memory.
He waits for time to pass, playing games on his mobile phone which is not suitable for gaming. It heats up and the battery drains fast. He enjoys the analogy between his phone and his life. He still does not have her message and it’s 10:30 he puts mobile charging of which only 15 % is remaining. He takes those 6 pages he wrote yesterday and starts reading to himself. At the end he was to tear them when he heard the message beep. It is 11:15 and her message is just an address which is at another corner of the city from where he lives and a note to bring along the pages he wrote. He leaves immediately with those pages, this time on his father’s motorcycle. He arrives at her place. The door was already open. As he came in, she was preparing lunch in the kitchen making Rotis. She asked him to sit down pointing to a dining table.
“You live alone?” he asked .
“No, my parents are not here anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“They have shifted to our farm” He stands up and fills a glass of water from Aqua guard and drinks.
“I don’t eat much,” he said .
“Yeah, you’ve gain 20 Kg in last year”
“Exactly 20 Kg! How do you know that?”
“I guessed, ” she smiled .
“What is on the menu today?”
“Paneer and Roti”
“Wow” He sits again on the dining table, observing the apartment.
“It’s ready, wash your hands, I will serve you both ,” she said as she finished.
She serves two plates. And they begin eating. “Delicious,” he comments. “Thank you.”
“You will be a perfect housewife” She smiles “How?”
“Well, that I won’t say”
“Thanks for the compliment” was her reply.
They finish their lunch. Both eat moderately. She then keeps plates in the basin. He is just watching her.
“You can relax in that bedroom” she points toward her bedroom. He shifts there and starts analyzing things. After just 5 minutes she comes and closes the door. He is surprised
“There is nobody home!”
“Yeah, I know”
“I have written something” he handed her the pages he had written. She glances at all the first pages but reads aloud the last poem.
“I like the conclusion, ” she commented. .
She sits near him and after a minute of staring into each other’s eyes, they start kissing passionately, and then everything follows a tender love scene of a few minutes. They both lose their virginity so it is naive. As they lie on the bed after that. Both are crying and caressing each other. A mutual understanding forms between them. They both put on their clothes. She opens the gallery window and comes into the gallery. Once again kisses him passionately, climbs on rails, and jumps. He does not wait for a second and follows her.
So, you were there before I know you
As oblivion as I am now to see you
He knows our future as well
what will happen to us or “of us” after this moment
It’s nothing new, is it?
It must have happened before
So welcome girl I am but a temptation
It fades… it evaporates…
“nothing” remains intact
I know these concepts, better, I’m known by them
And you must be as helpless behind the guards
Patience… I must learn and be sure everything that has to happen will happen
I don’t know what time it was and where I was… I awoke after hearing the above words in the back of my mind or a dream and as I awoke there was that unknown girl in front of me, asleep and serene. I came outside of what seemed like a cave and I saw outside barren land all around me. City of the dead I would call it. There was not a plant let alone a human as far as my eyes see. I sat there not sure if it was real. And I don’t know how long I have been there like that because I had no watch to keep notes of time, she came. As beautiful as she seemed in my world but a little tired or hungry.
“Finally, you’re awake,” she said.
As I answer not to her.
“You were asleep for almost three days and two nights,” she spoke while examining me with her hands.
“Where are we?”
“Quarantine for 14 days until our souls find a new body.”
“Have you been through this before?”
“Not that I know.”
“Then how do you know about these things?”
“I had visions”
“I thought death is relief”
“Death is the new birth which is torturous”
After this talk when I finally looked at her, I realized we weren’t wearing any clothes and no footwear. No water, no food, no mobile, no computer, no TV. She and I were naked there, alone, yet, there wasn’t any temptation. There wasn’t any energy. We roam in this city of the dead with no measurement. It doesn’t matter where we are going as we weren’t returning to our last destination.
“What will happen to our bodies ?” I wanted to know
“They will evaporate,” said she
“And where does the soul reside?”
“And who decides it’s the new body?”
“It’s random selection”
“How we lived our previous lives does it count?”
“You do not live your lives, you just participate and play your part,” it sounded crazy.
“And what if one wants to stop this vicious cycle?”
“First of all this isn’t vicious and,” smiled she “you think you won’t be you anymore.”
Time passes by. We didn’t count how many times the sun rose and set but we were sick just after a few days and weren’t talking to each other much and dealing with a painful experience. And we had our last talk that day.
“May I finally know your name?”I asked her
“It’s Eva,” she manages to pour out words while coughing.
I knew it wasn’t her real name but I decided not to argue. I moved beside her. Take her head in my lap and kiss her on the forehead then on the nose, she smiled and then finally we kissed.
“Why did you choose me, Eva?”
“Don’t call me that,” she resisted but then continued “At the end, everybody’s life is a worthless expenditure of time but we do contribute our share in this economy. Life is a distant view of distinctness.”
“How can you be so wise?”
“I am not wise… I am just hurt…”
“So do I”
“No, you’re ignorant”
“I can’t imagine I won’t be seeing you forever in a few hours. And also this story of ours that we have come to know will not be mentioned anywhere.”
“I sometimes wonder if you can never talk about serious things. You’re always left out from the point. I hope in your new life you won’t be like this.”
A filmmaker at Memorage. Check Memorage at Weebly.