It’s been almost forty hours since I last slept, the house is in a mess, things strewn around and cupboards all emptied of its contents, pieces of papers lying around. I have checked into the pages of every book, note book and dairies I have ever owned or written in. I frantically flip through the pages, searching for a word, a phrase, a doodle or a code word into which I had once etched and emptied a memory into. A memory of a life-time; love, friendship, devotion, obsession, crush, puppy-love, fondness and affection that crept into me slowly yet slyly, when I was a teen.
A soothing calmness embraces my soul as I think of him.
I remember that winter when I first met him; a boring evening at a cousin’s home, where we gathered for a Christmas carol practice. To be honest, I don’t have a memory-picture of him. I was hardly thirteen and he was twenty five/twenty six, yet what I remember distinctly was how he and S were holding hands all the time when they were seated among us. All we did was chuckle and giggle whenever they looked at us, smiling. Probably I believe that was my first ever idea or imagination of what it would be, to be in love. I was naive then and much more naiver now.
And it happened that there was always a whooshing of silences and whispers each time, as one of them would walk into the room. It was a common knowledge among us children, that they were in love and were betrothed to each other; a word that I fancied a lot, all through my adolescence. He was at once; this brother, a friend, a partner in crime, a joker, a merry-maker, a charming young man for all the mothers there and to my horror, my first ever adolescent crush.
I knew deep inside me that I will not and cannot love him as how S loved him. Yet my fondness grew aplenty, platonically. He made me grow into the person that I always wanted to. He taught me; how to dribble a ball, climb, swim, trek, to whistle with fingers, tie a sailor’s knot in ropes and Windsor’s knot and seventeen other ways to tie a necktie, something that my children adore in me now.
Three decades of life passed by; turning me forty five, yet I am that wistful teen still, when his memory crawls into me unaware, as I read this phrase, “Like a museum devoted to an absence.” from the book, After the Crash. My life came crashing down to a stand-still, lost in an abyss of over-whelming desire to know what happened to him after he disappeared from our lives. we all knew what happened to S after two years. A story that cannot be simply summed up in a few sentences and yet it is something that we all learned to live through.
I feel closer to the memory of my fifteen year old-summer as I close my eyes. I feel the years begin to fade in reverse, blurring my memories, yet reminding me of that ephemeral moment of innocence. That afternoon when a few dozen people walked back from the church after the service, I saw him walk aimlessly along the fence. Leila was tagging along him, with such sadness in her eyes that could only worsen his loss. I saw him, crumble down and lean onto the wall as Leila went and sat between his legs and started to lick his face. He hugged her and kissed her head and broke down, sobbing into her. I watched him from distance and knew for sure then; that I loved him more for what he has been to S in all those years.
Jeevs! I wish you are somewhere safe; tears in my eyes and hands folded in prayer, I send a wishful thought to heaven, that you found/made peace, for I never made mine knowing that you left us. I am a teacher and a parent now; I wishfully look at all my high school kids and wish you were one of them.
And, as I always remember being the youngest and only daughter, how it was to be treated a-bullied-yet-the-princess of the world by my brothers. I wish my two daughters would stop constantly picking on their brother and leave him to grow up like, the memory of mine-You.