Storm of the Bruised Hearts – LAST CHAP + Epilogue (EDKV) Written Update
CHAPTER 14: KNOWNS AND UNKNOWNS
The door cracked open letting the mixed smell of coffee beans, vanilla extract, sweaty socks, peppermint, and grass covered the air. The smog there had been lighter than usual old store rooms since Chote came a few months back to get his old business books.
“Hell someone forgot to thank me that I cleaned up the house a bit months back.”
“Dared you went-“
Storm of the Bruised Hearts – LAST CHAP + Epilogue (EDKV) Written Update
“Didn’t even walk into that hallway. Let me turn the lights on at least.”
Chote headed into the darkness as I followed leading Preeti the way. We stood approximately near the open living room while Preeti kept whispering ghost prayers. It’s so strange how we fear ghost more than people we are surrounded with. Almost equivalent to fearing death more than living long. I don’t get what’s the fear of the unknown? The word unknown is self-explanatory. “UN” known- you don’t know. What to fear when you don’t know what to fear from? What we should fear of is the known. Because we get levels of knowing and we believe we know when we don’t. This is an illusion. Like how I felt like I knew what goes on my mind when I surely didn’t. Or else I couldn’t be here looking for clues but laughing with her on our stupidities and denials of emotion.
“I don’t get it how guys are not scared of ghost” Preeti mumbled stepping a bit closer to me as I felt her breath being stuck somewhere like Delhi’s traffic.
“No. 1, No need to mumble. It is a safe place. No. 2, well a clarification to your statement, all guys at least watched Scooby Doo once in their lifetime.” No doubt she was confused as if I asked her some 12th standard functioning question and made her solve it mentally. “Uhh. I meant ghosts aren’t real-“
“Or sometimes people can get scarier than ghosts like di says.”
She completed her statement as the light blinked open of the entire room making me hallucinate reds and blues everywhere. Slowly with adjustment, I looked around into memories of years which flew back here. The perfect maple wood flooring now had layers of dark dust stuck on edges where the walls meet while the corners had little spider webs of two three lines. All furniture were placed as before except for the couch which got removed last year due to bug attacks. Without a word more, I walked into that known room of mysteries. The blended berries and Gucci’s scent attacked my nose reminding me of her presence, yet reality came to defend once I acknowledged the empty bed. With least try, tears rolled down my eyes and mixed on the edge of my lips and I walked to her closet. The closet door was decorated with funky quotes, poems, and abstract paintings.
“Going through her wall scrapbook?” Chote laughed as he walked into the room while I cleared my fear and to turn into that emotionless person again. I nodded smiling at thoughts of when Sumo never allowed me to read a single word attached to her wardrobe. “What does all say?”
“Nothing handful. Some girly lines. Let me check her closet again, you check the table again.” I ordered as I opened the closet and shuffled through her old clothes.
“What are we looking for this time. ‘Clues’ is a broad topic. Even packs of books are clues of her existence, but we need to narrow down to something. What makes this search up special?” Chote explained as I recalled how I never elaborated my plan. I turned around to face him while I noticed he walked up behind the closet’s open door to possibly look at those notes.
“Chote, remember the day I and Sumo got letters in her final year? Mine a job acceptance letter from Canada Construction and hers, a hostel room reservation one?” I asked, to begin with as he followed with a nod. “And remember how you went to the hostel to grab her remaining stuff and the management claimed Sumo rejected all letters till her 3rd year. And for the final year, why would they even reserve a room for her right? So it means she lied to us. The letter was from someone else which made her departure and lessen contact with us.”
“Well, she was in touch with me. You were the one to give her a cold shoulder.”
“Yes, I agree. Just be logical now. We know how she was. Would it really catch you that out of the blue she accepted a hostel room and never ever walked into this apartment just for a visit? Now back to where I was, the letter- all letters are posted only when the full address and complete name is given. You gave us the letters after collecting it from the mail box so do you remember looking at her letter, especially her name? Because posting a letter with just ‘Sumo’ is impossible.” Chote nodded negatively as I have expected so I just smiled telling him to search up for the letter and got back into the closet-search mission.
He didn’t move though. He stood still reading those quotes but I didn’t bother. If he needed some motivations from those quotes, I don’t mind. I kept searching through those same clothes over and over again letting frustration take over me. It felt like someone was hammering on my head and laughing at my struggle. I started throwing those clothes all over the floor.
“BHAIYA WHAT ARE YOU DOING? JESUS!!! STOP IT. You can’t find clues that way. Rather you might be spoiling existing evidence.”
How do I explain to him there’s no use now. It’s almost midnight. The clock strikes 12 and Sumo leaves my life forever. I have to move on as my promise to him. And now too I got zero sunrays. Life is laughing at me like we do when we see someone fall off their bench. What use are her clothes off when her memories would leave me in an hour? So I did it. I threw away her clothes on the floor. Saying no words I broke the wardrobe drawer and banged it onto the floor as her accessories scattered onto the wood. Bracelets broke like my hope with beads running all over those dead clothes while those earrings stayed stationary like nothing ever happened. Preeti ran into the room chasing the destruction sound as her fearful face searched for Chote.
“Push what’s wrong?” She asked looking at the room’s frame but soon walked away without a word. Could never be more grateful of Chote. I really required a moment of no disturbance but silence.
Slowly I balanced on my feet and headed to her study table which was hidden under layers of books, pens, and notepads. One after the other, I piled them on top of each other making the most successful tower of knowledge. And…BANG! All smacked into the ground but only the echoes of my heart yelling were audible to me. The books were peacefully sleeping which triggered me more so I kicked one after the other towards the lying clothes uncles a notepad scattered its pages all over the floor on my foot’s touch. Quickly I air scanned few scattered pages to find nothing but psychology and mental illness notes possibly of her final assignment which she never submitted.
My phone vibrated as the alarm clock knocked too welcoming the new day and a new life. It’s time to let her go, go off my heart, brain, and life. Maybe we were never meant to be together. Maybe life had different routes for us and we only had a moment of intersection. With a deep breath of relief, I walked to the door with no regrets, rather bold and joyful. I tried. Not less than my ability. Still didn’t find any clue. Because life for me is real, not a story or a movie. My story doesn’t end with a final kiss of togetherness but with my last breath. My journey ends only when I embrace the unknown path of darkness and hers too ends there but at different moments. In short, we came to each other’s life for letting the other grow into a proper human and gain life experiences. Now it’s time for a new book. A new entry with fresh pen and with different memories.
CHAPTER 15: MS. OBJECTIVE
PART 1- (GLUING SCRAPS)
“STOP” Chote demanded which I denied to follow and stepped out of the room. I know nothing of her now. I need fresh air. A fresh life. A fresh skin. A fresh memory box. A fresh world – Without her
The floor cramped behind me as two strong arms pulled me backward into a tight hug.
“I am no girl Chote, I can handle myself.” I jerked him off biting my lip with my words out as I kept walking towards the living room unless his words captured my legs. Words which could have made my life a living paradise few mins ago but it’s late and nothing makes a difference now.
“Found the letter” He repeated although I ignored this time too unless I realized my legs gave up, so all I did was move my shoulder so that I could face his smiling face with tears of joy covering red cheeks. With no words, he held up the piece of torn envelope.
“““ To: Ms. M Sumo
Apt. 412, 288 Dendus Street
M4X 33D, Toronto, Ontario
[ C O N F E D E N T I A L ] XXX
This is me, Richard, from St. Michael Hospital. I know you must be wondering what made me mail directly to your address even after your billion warnings than emailing it to you but this is important. As your signed forms all we discuss stays among us and even the hospital staff stays unaware of it so I did not risk emailing it to you since my professional email in controlled by the hospital and personal one cannot be shared with patients.
Anyways back to the topic, I received your test reports of last month and after checking for thrice, I concluded you are improving yet at a very slow rate. There is nothing to concern about regarding your diagnosis part however what made me a little worry is your internal reports. It feels like you had been stressing out over the past a lot which minimized your improvement and I am afraid, worsened it. Talk to your family if possible for a vacation and visit my clinic as early as possible for a better elaboration. I believe some small treatments would put all under control.
Till then, continue having your pills regularly and stay as much stress-free as possible.
Psychology and Neurological Department
St. Michael Hospital “””
This was no less than another jigsaw puzzle. Nothing placed in order or made no sense. Test reports? Diagnosis? Stress? Sumo never had stress issues or never took pills. But then I knew nothing about her, not even what the ‘M’ on her name stands for.
“Bhaiya take another day before you move on. You made me the promise right? I give you the permission to stay back in your bubble for another 24 hours. Anyways what does the letter say?”
I handed him the paper while he read it making his face paler and paler with each word that he absorbed. As the page folded back in the envelope, his face released tensed sweat and he ran back to the room picking up the books which lied on the floor, dead.
“Chote no use. This letter isn’t even helpful. We stop here. Sumo chapter over” I finished turning on my toe-
“Sumo chapter continues since we begin here” He completed as he scanned through the books. “Bhaiya, Sumo had stress issues we didn’t know about.”
“Yah that’s what the letter explains”
“What if there’s more to it?” He asked looking up at me for a while, then getting absorbed into the book again. “Look, Sumo took Cardiology as her major, but all these books are psychology based with much specified on Paranoia. She even got weird side notes like ‘STRANGER WITHIN WIELDS AXE, STRANGER OUTSIDE NOW AILED.’”
Without wasting a moment more, I marched to him snatching a book from his hand. As I skimmed through them, common lines were highlighted with aggressive words written down everywhere.
LEAVE – STOP – THEY FOLLOW – KILL – SICK – HELP – NO LIFE – PLEASE – DARK – INHUMAN
I looked at Chote confused while he mirrored me. Smartly he searched about Paranoia than just being an open-mouthed ass like me.
“ As a chronic mental disorder in which a person loses touch with reality Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. In this case, the patient gets prejudiced over certain human-nature phobias of unknown presence and inappropriate following. Common symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) and paranoid delusions (believing everyone is out to cause the sufferer harm), intense and irrational mistrust or suspicion, which can bring on a sense of fear, anger, and betrayal. Feeling powerless and depressed, isolating oneself, and relinquishing activities are characteristics that could be associated with those exhibiting more frequent paranoia….”
I opened my mouth when I heard footsteps coming towards the room.
“Push sorry to disturb you but di called. She was worried because it’s almost 1 in the morning and I should be going.” She bided a bye walking away to the door while we carried looking at each other trying to figure out the mess.
“Those words for sure prove how much stressed she was. Maybe together, all these make sense.” Chote broke the silence as I nodded agreeing but I signed him to drop Preeti home since its late making him leave.
This is what I wanted- Some time alone- solitary. Life gave me so much rotten tomatoes that even kilos of salad would be less to describe it. And then when I am finally forcing myself to move on just for a better future for Chote, I am pulled back into the same puzzle. It’s like my life revolves around her scent. But now that after 4 years I found some clues, I can’t just keep nagging and waste time and my last chance. So I turned into Sherlock Holmes and it wasn’t even a few seconds after naming myself the great, the 440 volt light lead on my brain. Those words from her note forms proper phrases if connected.
If “THEY” from “THEY FOLLOW” becomes the Subjective, and Sumo becomes the Objective, then all makes better sense.
– THEY FOLLOW (Sumo)
– THEY (should) LEAVE (Sumo)
– THEY (should) STOP (??)
– THEY KILL (??)
– THEY (are) SICK/ (Sumo is) SICK (of) THEM
– (Sumo needs) HELP
– (Sumo has) NO LIFE = DARK LIFE/she is having a bad life
– PLEASE HELP/STOP/LEAVE
– THEY (are) DARK (??) = bad/black skinned
– THEY (are) INHUMAN
Nothing gave a clearer description of Sumo fearing someone than this words and my previous experience. Four years back when I pranked with the terminal robot, Sumo freaked out and blamed “THEM” Her journal also repeated the same fear in different events. Maybe the red haired girl was also part of ‘them’, possibly their leader or something. Maybe Sumo got attacked by them that night. And maybe their fear made her departure abruptly. Was Sumo Paranoiac?
I don’t know- anything. These are all possibilities but the only fact is there is no clue that would lead me to Sumo. She is still the ghost of my dreams and sweetheart of my nightmares- An insane truth which drove me crazy and would soon get buried if I don’t find her back by the end of the coming daylight.
PART 2 (THE DEPARTURE)
A pair of rugged jeans legs rubbed against mines causing me to turn to my shoulder giving that annoyed pathetic look for the fifth time and get a small apology with the warm smile in return. Bought it this time too and looked forward hoping to get my number as soon as possible and get the hell out of this place. The coffee beans, vanilla extract, and muffin fragrance danced around the air making me hungrier. As the lady ahead of me walked to the cashier to order, I stepped into the “Stop and Wait” bar humming some Drake song while those pairs of jeans rubbed by back again, except for this time I turned all of my frame into an 180 degree angle and made that little annoying drunk ass realize how lovely I can be. Not much, just a light punch on the shoulder making him fall on his butt.
This is called Starbucks after 12 am. Alcoholic teens drowning themselves over layers of coffee or tea to smell less drunken and have an appropriate face in front of their parents. But who cares? The cashier is empty so I walked in there without a word more with that guy and ordered my all-time love Americano.
“Whipped topping? Added sugar? Any caramel or cinnamon deco?”
“None” I smiled.
“SM” I answered paying the money as I walked past to the waiting area for my coffee. It was almost 3 am which explained I had 21 hours on my hand. My plans are simple too. I drink the coffee while looking through her psychology books for more notes. Maybe they’ll expose more of her hidden side. Once it’s 9 in the morning, I’ll go the hospital and try figuring out some way to get her details.
“Initials SM” a silver-haired young girl shouted with a coffee holder as I marched up to her to grab my coffee, however, another petite hand held it before me claiming it hers. Her dark oak brown hair was tied into a loose ponytail letting the loose ends disperse all over her shoulder. I couldn’t see her face but I could tell with 100% assurance, she was drunk too. Because her waist kept swirling at an unsteady beat. Anger fumed over me once again. I don’t have much time left before this day ends too and all drunk hoes falling on my path today. Yet I controlled my anger and approached to her side calmly.
“Excuse me that is mine” I cleared my throat presenting my command but she turned on her left grabbing a holder from the stand. “Excuse me-“
Her soft sober voice cut me off “Sorry drunk man, it said initial SM.” Her voice was known. Too known yet unknown. But I had other jobs now so I paid less attention to her tune and more on her words which triggered me further. My initials are SM: Shravan Malhotra. And besides, She called me drunk! See the irony? A drunk calling me drunk!! My fault I play nice with everyone. This had to end here. Besides, she also took a sip of mines
“B!tchh dare call me-“
SMASH! The hot black liquid slowly got absorbed by my coral tee as the coffee started burning against my abs. The stain looked like piss on my tee! I stood motionless for a moment just to realize what exactly happened but the burn got stronger and stronger bringing my back to reality.
“Yup! Totally yours. Lacks sweetness like you.” She exclaimed walking past me when I tried to defend by she cut my words again as I kept observing more of her back. “Be glad drunky. Aimed your face but sad you are too tall. Next time for sure! Excuse me, I ordered my hot white chocolate with vanilla caramel long ago. When am I grabbing that?” She shouted pulling her neck higher to peep through the machines to look for a worker.
This is when life gave me back my oxygen. This is the moment when those rotten tomatoes turned into Radisson salads. NASA found their aliens on Mars or not, I don’t know. Don’t even bother caring. But I know I found my girl. I found the girl I lost 4 years back. In fact, she stood in front of me, unaware of my presence. The smile which left me years ago with her now returned with a bit extra. So hard that my cheek muscles started to hurt be it seemed less to the pain I went through all these time.
Not like movies, no slow motion walk or she turning around with an “awe” and then 10 mins of the eye staring competition. No! It’s life and I’m a living soul. So I ran to her. Yes! I ran to my Sumo and gave her the tightest back hug I gave ever since Ma died. Her pulling back didn’t even surprise me. I didn’t even let her know properly who I am. So I tried to speak but I didn’t. I didn’t have to either because she was embracing me hard. Hard enough to make me feel vacuum. And let her do so. I let her small frame fit under my shelter but not after long, she pushed back making a small eye contact. Those dark hazel eyes. How much I have missed those. Now those, wet, yet happy enough to weigh more than Arab’s gold. I cupped her face as she let her face blend into my skin making me feel home, safe, and alive.
But it was all for so short. The silver haired lady gave Sumo her hot chocolate when she ordered me another coffee and signaled me to sit by the edge of the store. Maybe she knew I had questions on my mind and wanted my answers. Soon she arrived with two cups on her hands. “Hot white Chocolate with vanilla caramel-“
“Your favourite” I completed as we shared a warm smile allowing her to take a sip of hers and sit down on the green couch opposite of mines. I too, took a sip of my coffee soon to realized it is too her hot white chocolate with vanilla caramel or in short, 320 cals of 78% sugar.
“Really? Where’s my Americano?” I asked letting out a small giggle. It seemed so unreal. Her presence in the most unexpected time. I searched her up for 4 years, everywhere in my ability. And where do I find her? At Starbucks around 3 am. Wow!
“Well you are still with me Shravan. I don’t let my patients have poison in front of my eyes. Pillar 2 of Medical Ethics-Do what’s the best for the patient” She laughed recalling those same words we share years back.
But this time, my words were real, alive, and in present tense.
“So doctor, was leaving me wondering the best decision?” I asked looking straight into her eyes as I noticed those eyes being fuller with water. Yet she controlled herself and smiled harder acting nothing really happened. “Your eyes give away Sumo.”
“That’s what I hate about myself.” She groaned like a kid making the environment around us lighter than it should be.
“Don’t. That’s what I love about you.” I replied trying to bring back the gloominess because I know the words we share now balances a lot of weight and a cheerful air isn’t suitable. But then again, she dropped my effort with another small laugh. Maybe she needs time. A few ice breaking words wouldn’t harm me either. “Anything funny?” I asked trying to track her mind. She nodded a no still smiling which annoyed me further.
“Patience Shravan.” She spoke, in a cold chilly manner, just like a mother handling her annoying child. “I know you waited for this moment ever since I left. I’ll answer you. Promise. But for now, how’s Push doing?”
“Sumo please can we get to the topic? Look, I know more than you expect me to know. I read the letter you got from St. Michael’s Hospital, also the side notes you wrote on your books. What’s all that Sumo? Were you depressed or panicked? What treatments were you under? Why didn’t you share it with me? What happened that night? Did anyone-“
I paused to take a breath when our eyes met once again. Hers again cold and unwelcome while mines were edged with tears of frustration. Was she playing with me? “Why did you leave?” I asked finally after struggling with words. And she smiles, again, a bigger one. I couldn’t stop myself from banging the table and grabbing everyone’s attention, however, glad the timing was suitable. It was so late that all sobers counted me as another drunken jerk and now, I didn’t care. All I cared is for my answers.
“How’s Push doing?” She asked again once I paused banging the table. Stuck with the same question, she is. I bet she is drunk now. Out of her mind. Or trying to be a hard soul.
“Chote is doing great!” I answered in a tone louder than ones I use to converse. But this girl was pulling me to my edge. “Working on communication business management of Fido. Got a pretty and mature girlfriend, his old business classmate, Preeti. Actually having a wonderful time around. At least his love didn’t leave him with a billion questions hanging. “ I mocked making her realize how much I was enjoying her taciturnity.
“Great!” she exclaimed clapping her hands like a kid. But then her eyes gained the passion which I had seen last years back on that bus stop. The love, the affection, which I denied to receive back then and now crave to earn. “How are you doing Shravan?” She finally asked with the same old softness.
“What do you think?” I asked her back to which she didn’t reply. But still dared to look into my eyes making me calmer with each second. “Sumo you left. You realize that, right?”
“You left, Shravan, that night.” She smiled again, but this time, a poor one hiding breaking down tears. “Anyways old stuff, forget those. Now seriously, how you doing big man?” She giggled trying to not acknowledge my pain.
“Fine, I’m doing shits. Okay? Wanna ask why? Well no need, let me answer, there was a girl I loved but denied to that fact since I had a cheesy past. Then when I realized, I saw her half dead which almost took away my breaths. Then I almost cured her ‘illegally’ since I had none of her identity, and what I got in return was fantastic! She left, without a word. 4 years, I looked for her everywhere. Going to the universities, medical colleges, hospitals and even hired a personal detective to look for her. Then I chose to give up on her, but hell no! I discovered a stupid letter addressed to her and find exposing dark secrets about her. And after going through so much, when I finally meet her, all she does is smile like an autistic goat and asks me short-talk questions. Isn’t that lovely?”
Uh! It felt nice. It felt alive. Finally letting all ur pain out on someone who would actually listen feels great. But then again, she still kept smiling.
“Done?” She asked as I nodded a positive apologetically. “Don’t feel sorry for the burst out. I wanted that to happen.” I looked at her with even more confusion. Was I hallucinating a philosopher or yoga instructor? “You faced a lot in these years Shravan. I don’t know much but I do feel it now, and you required a way to get rid of all those pain. Now that you are much calmer, we can have a real talk.”
“Why did you leave Sumo?” I asked again, with tears rolling down my eyes. I couldn’t take this anymore.
“We should start from letter A-okay student? Now pay attention.” She asked bending closer to rub off the tears as I nodded agreeing.
“it’s all back in India. Ma left me and dad when I was 3 or so. Don’t even remember her. But I was 7 when Papa died in a military camp. My custody went to my Kaka whom I least preferred. He was aggressive, treated me like a slave and his son was no less. Kaki was nice. She supported me but then they had a divorce and I was left with the devil and his son. You can expect what happened then.” She paused and broke the eye contact to look at the floor and hide her tearful eyes while I recalled how the nurse years back informed about old bruises her body owned. “But then I don’t know how one day magically Mama and Masi came over at rescue and explained how Ma passed away after an accident and before she died, she told them to take over my custody. 2 years of struggle with all laws and I came with my Mama over here. Started a new life. Slowly I caught up with my education and all went well too but then high school wasn’t the way it should have been. 4 years of pure bullying. Changed my high school thrice but situations never changed.”
Tears made their way out of her eyes. I knew life hadn’t been easy to her but was totally unaware it was an idealistic movie replay in reality. Except for her prince didn’t rescue her when she needed him. Disney should take a note from her story and make a new movie. It is more realistic. How prince is so useless sometimes. I caressed her hand until she decided to carry on her story.
“The senior year was going usual too. Bullying and all. But the baseball team captain- Aditya helped me out survive. A lot stood under his control since he was a popular kid. I took him as a friend for long, very long, in fact almost till the graduation but then he expressed his feelings which weren’t mutual. And… “ Sumo took the coffee cup and started drinking her hot chocolate, which by now froze I bet, abnormally. Deep sips with unsteady breaths in between explained more to me.
“Did he touch you?” I asked as disgust and hatred of that unknown guy started filling me up. “More than that, Shravan, more than that.” She cried out as her breaths hiked up her throat, making me close my eyes to gain more patience to listen to her story. I had that urge to kill Aditya or whoever he is but then it’s a long gone story and can’t be changed. Now, it made a better sense to me too. That night after the kiss, the way I left her, made her compare me with this shitty guy. I wonder, how can I fix her bruised heart?
“But then soon after graduation, Mama, mami and their daughter died so I switched to Toronto and lied to everyone telling my name is Sumo. I left no information about me behind. You know, new start, new everything.” I nodded. “But then my hallucination started overpowering me. Ever since the Kaka event, my brain nerves started weakening. All those school bullyings and Aditya’s lust work spiced up it together making all a living hell for me. I saw them everywhere more often. Felt their presence more and more around me, even when I slept. So I consulted a psychiatrist. Richard informed I had first stage Paranoia. It wasn’t a big deal and didn’t even bother much unless things went off place like your robot prank. But then I started hearing stuff. Like papa’s sweet lorries which soon turned into Kaka’s shouting and me begging. My past started repeating in front of me more often. I started taking pills since it turned into stage 2 and kept my imaginations under control. But alas! This freaking heart fell for you! I knew it was wrong, we together was a mistake, but I did it. I kept falling for you and knowingly that you feel something for me, led you on. And then all those crazy stuff. Hail off Richard he mailed me opening my eyes. You read the letter, and I guess by now you know too I never went to the hostel.” She paused looking for an answer and I nodded with awareness.
“I went for a diagnosis. For weeks I took therapies and controlled it. Stage 3 made life more fearful. I was stepping into a path which could not be cured. So I started breaking contact with you and Push knowing that my old life will haunt me and I will soon have to return to my cage.”
“So you left? You could have explained it to me Sumo!” I cried out thinking how easy it would have been if we just talked than denying feelings.
“Not so easy Shravan. Let’s head out while we talk” she suggested as we made our way out of the thick coffee beans, vanilla extract, and caramel smog. The parking lot was dark, illumine faded light, which simply represented my hope of a better life with her. Each step towards her car brought more of silence between us and our distance had been constant. Both physical and mental. The awkwardness remained a part since my questions were eating me up. Was this when she leaves? Without a word more? And I stay up hanging again?
And then she answered it all…
“That night you left after the kiss, I got drunk for the first time. Met Push too and he explained me your story which made my leaving u both after getting the degree’s decision stronger. I loved how being drunk kept all of my past and u away from me so I ran into the downtown bar and drank more than one can have on a month. Danced like crazy too and fainted somewhere I don’t remember. But then I remember touches and yellings, your voice, also Push’s. I heard you both talk to the doctor about curing me and I knew that would expose I identity soon. So once I felt alive and got the chance, I went to Richard for a talk. He did all emergency tests and we concluded together, with my doctorate knowledge and his that I’m a fourth stage paranoid schizophrenic patient. I knew even though you loved me insanely so did I, our story had to end. So I left you right there without a word because- the earlier, the better.” She paused as her car “tweaked”.
We shared that few seconds of eye contact. Her brownish hazel eyes, now reflecting the pure pain and the fear of unknown making me wonder how I never noticed it before. Was I that blind? The answer was a big fat yes. I had been so drowned in my past that I never really had a chance to appreciate what stood beside me and couldn’t even help someone who needed my warmth.
“So now…?” I asked with tiny hope, almost in micrometers of light on my heart. I didn’t know what to make out of her coming answer. A simple nod could have decided my future, by either filling it with candy floss dreams or with lion roars and torn heart beats.
“Nowwww…” She smiled, opening the door of the driver’s seat as her body unconsciously lowered itself, “We keep living on.”
“It isn’t living Sumo, it’s surviving,” I mumbled while my heart froze like my body. All these years of emotions and feelings, is that easy to erase them all?
“Then just survive, Shravan.”
“Had been, ever since Saman died.” I smiled, thinking how lovely my life had grown into. “But you taught me to live again, and then,” I spoke no more because the silence explained the story itself. “Are you happy with this decision?” I asked, while my body gave out sweat of fear. What if she finds happiness in something which isn’t us?
She looked; again straight into my eyes, but this time the fear was hidden behind pride and joy. “Yes”, she replied getting inside the car although never gained the courage to close the door. So I helped her, I closed, shutting the door and making it the barrier between us, while we two souls, craving to be united.
But I guess I was wrong. It was always me into it, not her, because she started the car, waiting for no second, not speaking a word more. Tears rolling down my eyes but now those water droplets lost their values. How much would a drop of water weight, when my body is lifeless? I was one step closer from being two steps away from her, and I increased it. Uncountable steps making my way away from her vision and her life, but then I guess, destiny didn’t agree to that yet, so she called me. Possibly for the last time, “Shravan, let me drop you home.”
I didn’t reply, nor did she ask right? It was a statement, or I guess an order, the last one. The car drove its track to my left as I took the seat next to her. We shared no glance or words all the way, just enjoyed each other’s presence. But then I broke the silence because my questions required answers and only she was the key to those.
“Why did you pick my coffee when it clearly said initials SM?”
“My initials are SM too.” She replied, not ever stealing a glance of me, rather being the perfect driver following all laws. I was about to ask her although she read me telepathically replying to me again, “Suman Mehra.”
Silence… we spoke no words yet again letting the conversation die. For mins, I counted a number of times life pulled me to that edge that I gave up on with ‘hope’ and the funny part was, I could think of none except for the current one. Because this was the only time I had hope in these 8 years but life… had complaints of my simple ray and dimmed it out too.
“Who was the red haired girl you mentioned on your journal?”
“My imagination.” She smiled as I absorbed the glow of her face. I was like the plant thrusting to get more sunlight and she, my sun. But really imagination? I really thought of Sanam being that when I first read it and also expected her being alive and haunting Sumo away from me. But then no! This crazy girl driving next to me wrote days after days in her journal about her imagination. “I like her” She continued although my confusion grew. “She gave me hope when I got all those crazy therapies and never left me when I was all alone. She killed my loneliness providing me something to hold on to, forever.”
“Why can’t I be that?”
She fixed at her glance on mines once again whispering the answer only loud enough for me to hear with my heart. While she took that as one of her best moments, an escape from the dark, I took it as my worst moments. The urge to go home and cry increased with each traffic signal but then I wanted this journey to be never ending. I wanted her beside me, equally as dominating, forever onwards. But destiny had its own plan, which followed none of our wishes.
White flashlight, insanely audible horn, the breaking distance, and the hooded death…
My soul embraced the coloured crowd as roars broke through the silence of my heart. Dried paint started painting the sky so my face as the music busted fading the roar out into its beat. Walking into the display in a coral pink floral gown, she smiled looking into her love with much adore and happiness. Those white lilies combining red roses, which she held now made its way to a small petite hand as Preeti bend on her knee for a warm hug. I, standing few meters away from the duo, could feel nothing less than jealousy finding Preeti to be the first one to hug my princess. She looked cute in her small knee size peach gown which had little laces floating around and making little floral patterns all over the dress. But then again, this is just a dress, a dead object, what brought it into alive was the frame it was on.
Slowly both princesses walked to the front, one jumping into my suit making life home, while the other blushed enjoying the last few minutes of the singlehood. As both the bride and groom shared loving glances, I walked up to Father asking for continuing the delightful moment and helping to make memories to stand by lifelong. As he spoke, the side giggles and murmurs faded with all eyes focused on being a part of the night.
“We are all gathered here today to witness the marriage of Pushkar Malhotra and Preeti Tiwari.” He spoke holding the big book of faith as we all nodded making the couple redder than they already were. While they smiled vowing for forever-togetherness, I here knew nothing lasts forever. But then if a little hope kept me alive was the small soul which was attached to me looking into the scenario with hopeful eyes.
“Pappa,” she whispered coming closer to my left ear and I held her up to my level harder with my hands, “Why Pushhy telling big bedtime story lines?” Her eyes, perplexed and confused, searching for answers in me as I chuckled at her innocent,
“Because Pushhy is marrying his queen.”
“When will I be a queen?” She asked again pouting her soft little lips in wonder.
“The day your prince marries you.”
“And where is my prince now?”
“Fighting with the giant dragon,” I replied trying hard not to laugh at my own made fairy tale. This all, so nice a rich, but it hurts when all these dreams crash into the harsh reality leaving bruises all over our souls and hearts.
“Okkkaay I hope he comes soon.” She smiled crawling down me and running to her friends as I walked to Mr. Bain for some paperwork. He stood there aside from the crowd near the corner holding a thick black leathered file with the Canadian Federal logo on display. As I stepped closer, he checked his watch making me realize how much I have delayed. With an apology, I signed in all papers without a single thought.
“Sure you can handle her? You have to act like a single parent Mr. Malhora.” He asked as I assured him I was ready to adopt that kid. “Fine sign in the final paper and fix a calling name so that the office can acknowledge her as a recognizable character. I’ll also inform the orphanage about your decision.” Finishing his words he handed me some thick papers with my princess’s information which only lacked her name, and I named her what I wanted,
The wet soil munched with every step we took as the grass aside danced in rain water. The gray cement stones freshened themselves of days of dust as the water rolled down them. Some flowers, dead, half-dead, fresh, lied here and there beside some tombs but we walked to hers, different, a white stone, innocent as her soul.
“Pappa why is this stone white and filled with fresh lilies? People loved her right? Gave new flowers every day.” Little Sumo wondered pointing at Sumo’s grave as tears rolled down my eyes. “Pappa look she has the same name as me” She smiled touching the white stone which displayed in block letters the love of my life as I nodded. Slowly bending down my knees and bring little Sumo on my level, I took those small soft hands on mine as I spoke,
“That Sumo is my queen, and you my princess, okay?”
“Then she is my Mamma?”
“Nope.” She looked at me confused while I helped her finding the solution, “She is your fairy angle. Your imagination. When Pappa would be busy or away, she’ll be your guidance.”
“Why is she dead Pappa?”
“Because I was a lazy prince. Didn’t save her from the bad dragon.” I replied, monotonous, as my voice broke into tears.
“It’s okay Pappa. When I talk to her, I’ll give her a sorry from you, and tell her when you go to foreverland, you’ll find her back.” Sumo smiled as her chubby cheeks blushed into redness of joy and excitement. Quietly, she ran into my arms mixing into my skin as I welcomed her small frame in.
A Clear vision of that night of months back played back. How our last moments got snatched away in that one moment. How the drunk teen drove all over us making her breathes less weighing with each second. Life gave us such fewer moments of togetherness that she was pulled by hooded death before even she could make it to the hospital. But then, the disgusting play of fate, I made it. Few minor injuries and a fractured leg. All cured in a week and a half, but no one to cure my bruised heart which was destroyed by her storm. Alone, solitary, I wondered all the way why life played this trick to me. But then again, I realized too how she had always been right. Happiness wasn’t in our unity. Our destinies were different and we had to live in each other’s memories, not life. So I wasn’t the one, the replacement of the red-haired girl because where she is now, I am not. We are away. Yet again I left her alone, however, her imaginations didn’t. But here where I am, Sumo didn’t leave me. She lives both inside and with me. And the best is it’s not one, it’s two. I know I couldn’t spend all my life just waiting for death to welcome me so I moved on. Not making another girl’s hope crash into the floor with the fact that I can’t love her, so I chose someone I could enjoy my remaining days. Someone who could heal the bruises of my heart. Someone who believed in imaginations too, but not as a victim of mental disorders but as a pure heart unaware of brutal reality. And this time I won’t let her go… Unless her prince walks into me asking for her hands. Because I promise I’ll find perfection in this little imperfect world- with my little Sumo.
——- THE END ——-