Nathaniel was eccentric and had an idiosyncratic sense of humor. He never let go of his adolescence, and that birthed vivid, creative poetic bubbles that enveloped him. Poetry and rhythm floated through all his senses and he expressed himself tapping into his innate artistry. He always had a song playing in the background when he wrote, and he drifted with the melody and it shaped his writing. If he listened to some Drop D Grunge, he wrote something with a brooding, introspective core. If he listened to jazz, he improvised and found meaning between the lines he wrote. If he listened to classical his poetry adopted a melancholic, wistful stance; barely defending itself, exposed and vulnerable. If he listened to something contemporary his writing verged on mainstream fiction, but still drew back after phrases to literary fiction.
Nathaniel loved June. He truly and deeply longed for her. She was his best friend, confidant and lover. But he was a man given to much soul-searching and his work absorbed him. And so, he disregarded her at times; disrespecting her without realizing it. He’d switch off during conversations and reply monosyllabically because some flash of inspiration would suddenly blind him. But he bye and bye hoped for an idealistic, pastural ending to their relationship. He dreamed of a house on the hills with a few pets and an early retirement, finally giving June all the attention and affection, she needed. But being distracted wasn’t Nathaniel’s only flaw. He was temperamental and often wounded June by saying sharp-edged words which precisely pierced her heart. His moods were erratic and unpredictable, and though he sought God, tried legalistic self-improvement corporate cults, counselling and psychiatric medication, nothing prevailed.
Nathaniel needed catharsis for some deep-seated anger he felt towards June. It stemmed from her leaving him once. He was barely functional except for his writing and he felt forsaken then. Although emotion shifted direction, and he often retreated into that lush, creative world he’d created in their relationship, filled with nicknames and imaginary creatures which she complemented by adding her own additions, and the naïve beauty of it all overwhelmed them both with love, he’d suddenly lash out. ‘You fucking abandoned me!’ He’d scream with rage, and then like a man possessed would hurl insult after insult like stones thrown at an offender in the Old Testament. He’d later grieve, lament and weep, but change wasn’t forthcoming. Nathaniel broke June’s heart over and again.
June personified an innocent, sweeter, kinder love that’s rarely found. When she loved someone, she gave him her heart and soul. She gave Nathaniel her all, exposed her vulnerable core and cherished him despite his oddities. She often played the lyre to the songs he composed, the chords to his singing, the conductor to his avant-garde orchestra, bending the percussion before or after the signature to create symphonic togetherness. June was just as creative but expressed herself more symmetrically in neat patterns of color. She painted landscapes and played the violin. She was drawn more to harmony and melody and had a childlike artistry. But when she created something, she created it with blood and heart.
June loved Nathaniel maybe a little too much. He was her best friend, confidant and lover. But she was a woman given to altruism and reaching out, more than looking within. She often found herself in situations where people hurt her because they took advantage of her kindness. She was also flawed in the sense that she was bitter from rejection and malice shown. She couldn’t forgive anyone else except Nathaniel and once even left him. She claimed that people tear healing scabs with poisonous words and she was justified not only because of personal experience but also because it’s a universal truth whether we accept or discard it. June, however, often played the victim too often. Yes, she was hurt and broken, but she hurt people too, and she justified her stance and plotted excuses. She studied psychology in the hopes of figuring Nathaniel out when so much begged her to correct herself too.
June reached a stage where she needed Nathaniel out of her life completely. Her deep-seated need for an idyllic quietude pushed her to extremes, and made her try to destroy him, without realizing it. She blamed him incessantly for each fight and filled him with self-loathing and unnecessary guilt. It’s true that Nathaniel was feral at times, but if June acknowledged responsibility and owned up for causing him grievances, he’d have done better. June was an angel, but one with a broken halo, and that’s the one thing she failed to see when she looked in the mirror. And this enraged Nathaniel, causing spontaneous bursts of anger. They both needed maturity and closure. June and Nathaniel lived in dreams and imagination when they were drawn to each other, but just couldn’t handle tough ground together.
And one day Nathaniel couldn’t handle it anymore. He was the first to truly snap out of it, and so, he held June in his arms, kissed her and faced with two choices, for once reasoned. He abandoned flawed intuition and instinct and contemplated either killing himself or finding a life outside June. And he stood at the crossroads in front of their apartment complex while she looked on from her window.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)