The glass was transparent, filled three-fourths with water. The subtle curve of the meniscus caught light from above and glimmered. With my chin resting on the table, I observed her animated face magnified through the liquid. She sat across, wearing blue, with her jet-black locks breaking into waves, one layered over another brushing on her shoulders. She blinked those big scary eyes and moved her head from side-to-side. She was trying to make a point I suppose. Every once-in-a-while, her hands would shoot up, forming words in the air. Yes, she sure was saying something. But blame her peculiar nose, a tad-bit voluminous, and that curious stretch of lips; I felt all my attention being pulled as toward, making it difficult to spare any for the words those moving lips formed.
With time the skin over my chin started to feel numb under the weight of my head and started to sting. I sat upright and leaned on the back-rest. She smiled as if to acknowledge my change in posture while yet continuing with the monolog. I wondered how one smiles while talking. Aren’t the lips already busy in sounding the consonants, particularly the labials – ‘m’, ‘p’ and ‘b’. Possibly one times the smile to that portion of the speech when words do not include these. I felt amazed at how talented their brains need to, to be able to predict beforehand which part of their sentence is devoid of words containing those alphabets so that they may smile at that exact moment. Such an arduous strain on brains micro-circuitry. I blinked in awe of her this gift and tried to smile.
Tried to, but couldn’t. This is not the day I smile. It’s a sad sorry day. I broke my coffee mug. Despite the charming presence of her, in near proximity, the ache of the misfortune was too searing to wane. She had given me it. While some might argue the very same ‘she’ is sitting right across the table that seemed to hold a glass of water, two plates, two pairs of spoon, fork and knives, a box of tissues, and a promise of food that was yet to come. Now the latter half of the previous statement in this recital is beside the point, yes, you figured it right. I guess I put it there to shift attention from the unease the former half of the statement had caused within. Yes, the coffee-mug was given by her, but she was that ‘her’ no more. Time leaves indelible insignia of its passage, doesn’t it? Some desirable, while some not. Some tolerable, some not.
Just then, there was a sudden moment of profound quiet. I saw that there were no more ripples in the water in the glass. Her lips had stopped to move as well. I said, ‘yes, I agree’. And she smiled.
Contrary to what you might think, no, this isn’t a failed marriage wherein we just indifferently tolerate the other. In fact, we are not even a couple. It is just that I have something going on. Something that is being a bother. And I can’t tell her that. As to why I can’t tell her, well, I don’t know. Though now I can think and try to come up with reasons in retrospect as to why I can’t tell her; but beforehand I don’t know what made me want to not say and keep it to self. Maybe it just didn’t occur to me to tell her about it. But then isn’t it how we are at times. Inexplicable to self. Not that that mystery can’t be unwoven. It’s just that it would rather be quite a burdensome bother to undertake. And it’s easier side-stepped.
While these philosophical counterpoints subsided inside my head, I noticed that her eyes were downcast and the smile that she had beamed before had turned smug, then sore, and finally sad. It’s incredible how the same stretch of lips could be made to portray such myriad different emotions. A mathematical impossibility if one may. But then, she did, and thus it isn’t an impossibility anymore, is it? So this is that point in the narrative wherein it becomes clear that I have been outstripped in my endeavor to outsmart her. Poor me. Well I don’t actually mean ‘poor me’, but inside my head, I could hear her quip ‘don’t wallow in your own self-pity’ at my that phrase; a nasty retort we had together once discovered in a comic strip. The distraction aside, I felt my heart miss a beat.
Funny that it begins with a series of missed beats, strained breaths and roiled emotions. And this same bunch recurs when you see your better half down and under. ‘better half’ having been used in a literal sense with not too much emphasis on the ‘your’ pronoun that did precede it. Though on a second take, much emphasis has indeed been put on the absence of emphasis on that possessive pronoun. Such a recursive turmoil language adds to the act of living. For what is unsaid is also as affecting as what is said.
I came clean and said, “I dropped that coffee mug you gave on that friendship day”. “The yellow one? The one with a black lid and café coffee day written as upon ?”. “Yes, the same. It fell and broke into a thousand shards of splintered ceramic.” “I knew I should have given you one made of tempered steel!”, and with that, she broke out into her characteristic peal of laughter. I again caught myself gazing at her peculiar nose, admiring, smiling, chuckling as it twitched as she paused for breath between laughs.
Yes, it’s inexplicable; this human contract with its inherent asymmetry of emotional exchange. In part because we are humans, fallible, with a lifetime spent in cultivating behaviors that are a far cry from ideal. And in part because this portrayal is a consequence of the wistful imagination of a soul reflecting in solitude. Either way, how much harm can come by wishing ‘happy friendship day’, even if the only real aspect of that proposition is ‘day’. Someone said life is a comedy, written by a writer with a tendency to overindulge in the tragic. And given the superlative intellect (quirky smarts, handsomeness, and knightly chivalry) of this ‘someone’, we are bound to concede to his point. As to why his, and not her? Well, it’s apparent I am a guy ain’t it.