United In Spirit
She loved the dark, and the darkness that it brought, the stark kindness that penetrated its long eyes and the comfort in its audacious black breath. Every night, when it came unannounced, the spirit in her rose, and like a convict set free after years of solitary confinement, it rattled and laughed, cursed and wildly danced. And when it screamed, a dense fog of smoke would spread, and the night would flood in a blackness such that there was blackness in her and all around her. The spirit then shook her, and when she fell unconscious, it whisked her away, to a place where pain tasted sweeter, where anguish gave a greater solace, where death was more merciful than life itself.
Strangely, it was the only time she knew who she was, and why she was the way she was. The only time, when her own rejection found an unknown acceptance. The earth moved around the sun and the sun set every evening, but Sia did not know when days began or when nights ended. When a yellowish haze filtered through the windows of her bedroom, she didn’t know whether she wanted to be happy or sad. When the birds outside harped a lovely song, she didn’t know whether she wanted to listen or simply drive them away. When droplets of water settled and the jade grass sprung to life, she didn’t know if she loved the taste that its colour brought.
Life still existed in forms she knew, but could no longer acknowledge. “The universe is full of life and man creates life in all that he builds”. Her appreciation for creation far extended the realms of the natural world, and inspired her to take up a profession, where creation built in her thoughts, thoughts that outlined designs which were an uncanny mix of medieval and modern art. With a few easy pencil strokes, she could easily bring to life, the astronomical structures and towering buildings that for most, were nothing but constructions of sand and cement. It was the ingenuity of her skills, the charm of her flawless smile, the confidence of a rational exuberance; it was so hard for anyone to miss her, or even the shadow that announced her presence.
So it was not uncommon for the college guys to fight over who would be part of Sia’s team, or for girls to fret over her ease to generate attention. A woman loved and loathed, both for the same reasons. Sia loved herself, for what she was, and her life, for what she possessed.
He didn’t know much about her, but he was fascinated by the expanse of her drawings and the vastness of her attitude; both reflected her love and respect for life. And she was fascinated by the meticulously beautiful shapes that his structures took, as if each had a different story to tell. She loved when his deep dimples chuckled, but more than that she loved the innocence that arched his face, exactly the way the sun she knew spread over the horizon. Love came along, slow and swift, and after a few hide and seeks, it found a place. Silently it bloomed, bloomed and blossomed, blossomed and bloomed. Even as their hands sketched the designs of inanimate edifices that would house thousands of business offices, their hearts raced ahead of time to design a home that would be their own. A home painted with colours that would celebrate their happiness, their togetherness.
During the class hours, they remained complete strangers, oblivious to each other’s presence, such that their eyes never met, even by mistake. But when dusk arrived, and the night fell, and the world became too sleepy to care, the same strangeness developed into a familiarity that even nature found hard to explain. She was an orphan and he had only a graying uncle to call his own. Both being deprived of their rightful share of love, stretched and outstretched and sucked from each other, the nectar of life. And in that closeness, when all rules of biology and chemistry were broken, life revealed its magnificent secret, bit by bit. She loved him and he loved her, both for reasons only they knew. Their career graphs were soaring high, the momentum of their relationship, even higher. Marriage seemed just right, lovely and beautiful.
Then one dark wintry night, he left, left her, without a word, as if in a hurry, afraid if he would be questioned. No one knew how he came so close to the truck that he could not apply the brakes on time. Or how the truck driver could flee away, when he lay in a pool of blood, his skull crushed under the steel rimmed wheels. But she recognized him, even when his face was beyond recognition. She felt the place where it should have been his smooth white skin. She could smell him, even when the red of his blood choked her throat. She wrapped him in her duppatta, holding him tight; fearing that she would lose whatever was left of him. And later when she reached the place they called their home, she heard him giggle as water spilled down and collected in his hollows.
He had not said and she knew he would never. So she promised to join him if she could not leave him. That night, she heard him again, though the sound was faint and feeble, as if it came from somewhere very far. The spirit crept inside her, and stretched all over with an owner’s pride. As she kept wondering about how much he would have changed in ten months, it cut her deeply and widely. The two united and their spirits danced, and she laughed the way she did, when he tickled her, at the place where it tickled the most…
~ Priya Poulose | Edited by Afreen Zeb