His love for her was a split-screen affection: one half, the purest white, the other pitch-black. He loved her with a literal trembling veneration when he saw her as a gift, a sweet Pandora’s box of a myriad wonderful things, but he loved her like this only when she fit in that shoebox with its archetypes – his mind. But when she misplaced one conception, changed one tune, he grew tense and then his eyes grew stern and cold, and she became the shoebox to fit all his frustrations, angst, anger and disgust in. It was either perfection or treachery, and he never altered or even attempted to tweak his perception. He fed off her like a piece of art. He couldn’t live without validation, or her praise, or her disgust. He needed her yin and yang to function, to write something, or hell, to even breathe, and couldn’t tolerate her frustration and her need for absolute solitude. When she felt choked and complained, he’d say, “I have a condition,” even though he refused medication for it, or, “You’re hurting me,” or an abominable, foul-breathed, self-pity choked, “I’m sorry,” which never meant anything. He prattled on and on to friends and foes alike, unable to differentiate between them, and often earned their pity or even support. He shared inside jokes with them and made himself look like a cherub. But she knew the truth: each time he’d say, “He’d try harder,” she’d see through the façade and know that a palimpsest of horror awaited her. And she knew she had to slice the drama he thrived on into two, and the only way was to ignore the cacophony, disregard her reputation in his eyes, and find a life anew. And so, she left him, ignored him, stopped bothering about him or his minstrels who kept playing the same sound, the same bar of music again and again, like a screechy clarinet on repeat. At first it was hard because he gathered forces, and tilted the adage upside down and made it, “Hell hath no fury like a man scorned,” but eventually, she realized that he’ll stay where he was always, and god help the next woman, if he ever found one! She passed him on the beach, the other day, and saw him still gossiping and weeping with his old friends, and she laughed aloud, because every attempt – regardless of if it’s using his old friends, or making new ones just to get them to pry – fails now, because she’s found the arms of another, and he really loves her and knows her. He’ll probably find out, and think she’s doing this just to get back at him, or sob and whine, or joke with his immature man children about how she behaves like a strongman instead of a woman, or talk nonsense about her sexuality, or send her a silly mail with a ‘Darling’ and something falling short of sarcasm, or prose with some drawn out boring analogy after reading something on Wikipedia, or a passive aggressive ‘poem’, which will give Freudian therapists the greatest pleasure. But she’ll toss it in garbage, and the garbage man now has enough material to start a soap opera! And probably writes better letters too, although he’ll go from friend to friend, insisting that he’s good. “I am the goddamn letter! I am the goddamn letter!” He’ll scream, and someone closeted will say, “You are! You definitely are!” And he won’t realize that that someone only wants to stick it up his arse, while she tilts her head back and laughs again.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)