I remember listening to Third Eye Blind cassettes on that old Sony Walkman – never caring about what course our futures would take – sitting next to you, that nose ring and that tribal running down your arm. ‘That’s a dude’s tattoo,’ I said then and laughed, but you were upset and ranted a little about labeling. You were always slightly more mature that way. I remember smoking hand-rolled tobacco with you. We were both unsure of what to do, and back then we didn’t have a YouTube tutorial for everything, and even if we did, we still had our old Nokia’s and punched messages only when we felt the need. We just called each other using our landlines. I remember taking too big a pinch of that American Spirit, and then we tried evening it out on the rolling paper, but we finally ended up with a monstrosity of a cigarette. But, hell, we smoked it anyway, and man did it give us a rush! I remember buying Old Monk and drinking it in places like classrooms or pouring it in Coca-Cola bottles and drinking it raw. I remember the time I got so sloshed that I couldn’t remember shit. I caused such an uproar in that cheap restaurant and ate tissue paper, and the good Lord knows what. You helped me get out of there. I remember sneaking you in while Mom slept downstairs and pushing you against the wall and taking off your top. I remember when we made love and it was a religious experience. I remember how you’d surprise me by suddenly dying your hair a streak of blonde, or by getting it curled. You were crazy impulsive that way. I remember to remember everything about us. I try to forget to remember how I lost you. But I sadly can’t let go of the day when your mother called and said, ‘Angelica met with an accident. She’s in the hospital. She’s critical.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and both disoriented and holding back tears, I took the Auto to Manipal hospital. I paid the guy whatever he asked for. I called your mother asking her about the floor and room number, only to find her wailing on the other side of the line. ‘She’s gone…she’s gone,’ she said between choked breaths and guttural cries. I roamed the corridors of the hospital aimlessly, not knowing where to turn to. I called my mother and cried, ‘Mom, Angelica’s gone! She’s dead Mom!’ And then dropped my phone, and never bothered to recover it. Today, I’m 30 and write about everything, except you. I write about love, and they call me a dated Narcissist. They say I’m a lyrical Shakespeare (I don’t even come close) who’s actually a violent women hater, who masks his anger by crafting love poems. And I get this from strangers around the world who don’t know anything about my life. People who pervert feminism, the consequences of being bullied and the pain of abuse to create a semblance of an identity for themselves because they lack one. Sure, they can argue like lawyers and caw like ravens, throwing in a word like ‘obsequious’ or ‘oleaginous’ now and then. But, I could care less about their jargon-ridden essays and their rants. They haven’t suffered enough to know love and to see it hung, drawn and quartered right in front of them while they screamed into a void. Hell, they don’t even know what love is. They follow the Bible that’s BuzzFeed and lose themselves to oleaginous flattery while an obsequious clique serves them. They can go to hell, for all I care. I look out of the window and watch the Flame of the Forest rustle effervescently, and I wonder if the universe recycled you when you coasted in the grey, and planted you right in my backyard, giving my sorrow a catharsis – a hope that’ll always remain in the allure you’ll always hold.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)