A Casket of Love
by Geetashree Chatterjee
(New Delhi, India)
A grey, disheveled sky carrying the burden of clouds like an evil scowl! A dismal morning lending a dark, somber hue to the surroundings! The trees droop with the weightlessness of the raindrops heavily plonked on their leaves and the clumps of colour, which were carelessly strewn around a day previous, have taken an ashen form. I feel dull and sit by my study window and stare at the abjectness of a world. A world gone pale in the rains! It’s dark inside the house too. I have deliberately not switched on the lights. I can hear the kitchen’s palpable sigh - my refusal to go in and wake up the pots and pans and put the gas stove on to make the early morning tea.
I just sit listlessly on my own. Such colourless, vigourless mornings make me nostalgic in a sad kind of way. Draining me! De-energising me! Enervating me! So much so that I am converted into a zombie! A lazy, apathetic mule that refuses to budge even if prodded and poked the hardest.
All the unhappy memories come back and crowd my room in such a manner that the pillows, beds, chairs, tables, sheets, mattresses and all other odd assortments, everything, pulsate with a solidified grief. A lament flows round and round the closed walls and settles somewhere inside my heart and does not lift again till very late after a lot of shaking, shivering and shuddering. The burden may get off my chest but its remnants linger on for days and weeks and sometimes months. I push it away and it pulls back my soul in a wretched manner, at the same time, vigorously churning the pain and agony inside with an invisible spoon creating a nauseous feeling, as though a fount of charred dreams is about to spurt into a cascade down the marble floor. Anguish has a stronger gravitational force than will.
It is in these moments that a pair of eyes haunts me. Eyes with a repressed smile! Eyes heavily hooded carrying a mystery in its lashes! Eyes coal black deeply embedded in a rugged face. Eyes that never spoke much but gestured you to follow a hazy dream for light years. Eyes that cringed on the sides when a boyish smile widened the lips. Eyes which ignited many new emotions hitherto unknown. Well, those eyes never left me alone. They would always be watching and spying on me in broad daylight as well as in the womb of the nights spent sleepless on cold pillows. Eyes that scanned me inside out so much so that there was nothing left to hide. Eyes that never betrayed any emotion but just a smile which could mean anything and everything. Mischievous eyes which compelled one to make mistakes.
Years rolled by wrapped in expensive falsifications not because I incurred debts but because I wasted emotions – waves and waves of them in gullibility and inexperience. When a simple middle aged woman introduced me to her husband, not face to face, just gesticulated across the road towards those eyes, I was broken into so many innumerable pieces that even God must have resented his idea of infinity.
Enraged passion mixed with a strong measure of vengefulness is the most vitiating reaction. As the venom spread life became dysfunctional. The only thought that overpowered all other thoughts of day and night was how to alter the situation to my benefit. Mundane realities found a single focus, though destructive. In such times, it is very easy to forget one’s own self in a labyrinth of unnecessary questions whose answers stare in the face but are conveniently overlooked in a fit of brooding melancholy and self pity. The whole process was detrimental to sanity.
The mediocrity and malfunctions of a middle class existence are balm and boon to regressive aspirations and a mind gone astray. The question of survival forcefully brings one back to earth. Conventions and customs enforce one to find solace in the daily monotony of making both ends meet. The amount of struggle and strife involved varies in degree as well as in kind. Soon life took its myriad paths of boredom and haste and I was saved from committing a ruthless crime.
A light footstep awoke me from my reverie. I turned back to look into a pair of another eyes. Eyes which talked freely and took liberty of castigating me at times. Eyes which promised tranquil days and nights. Eyes which laughed openly at my fallacies and hugged me in a warm embrace when I rejoiced or won over a tide. Eyes which made fun at my chronic clumsiness. Eyes which were always there with me strengthening my convictions and courageous decisions at infrequent times. Eyes which never brewed or invited storm. Eyes which embalmed my ancient wounds with a loving caress. Eyes which have accepted me with all my immature follies and amorous digressions. Eyes which were now smoke filled not because they were distant but because the hands held a steaming cup of tea.
As I took the cup and sipped in the comfort and calm, I could feel the violent upsurge receding quietly to a deep, cavernous recess somewhere beyond the realms of my tread or trespass. As the warmth of the hot beverage coursed through my veins and arteries, it was a comeback to the now...a peaceful, sated present. The baleful intrusion of bygone woes...the torrid torment was tamed… at least for the time being.