“It’s strange, you know, that you came today, after all this time, after all that happened”.”But, honestly, it doesn’t feel unusual. In fact it doesn’t feel strange at all. It’s like all those things in the past never happened. And I’m glad that I can sit with you today, sipping coffee and discuss it.” he said.
“It’s all water under the bridge, I guess.” spoke the mature present in me.
“Looking back to the days, it feels stupid to have done it, fret over it and keep visiting it over and over again. Wish we hadn’t lost those years to such petty issues.”
“I don’t know how petty they were then, but I’m sure they are not worth wasting our time over today.”
“Yeah. I’m just glad that you came and that we can look at each other without letting the past take the best of us.”
“I never did let the past meddle with the present, except when it was the present itself.”
“Let’s skip that. It was sheer stupidity” said he before the conversation over common friends, books, movies and music took over.
The present in me went with the flow, maybe it was stupid after all to think about the past after all these years. Today, I was there for him, to listen to his side of the story, to listen to him. What the 17 year old in me thought about him shouldn’t matter. So he continued with his tale. It was a tale I wasn’t ready to hear, though. It was unexpected and disheartening.
It’s always dejecting to look into the eyes of the people you have always seen happy and find nothing but sadness, desperation and last flicker of the dying hope. You don’t expect such people to be sad. Whenever you have looked at their happy faces, you have thought that sadness is for you and, perhaps, you’ll never be as happy as they are. To associate misery with those gleaming faces feels a little out of place. Maybe, you’ll never be ready to face an uncomfortable situation like this but you’ll sit through and watch them fall as their world crumbles with each word that makes it way out of their mouth.
In the hesitations you see the friction, in the sighs you see the struggle of the words that put a heavy fight to come out. They need a relief too, from this overwhelming sadness and self- consuming desperation. And all that the present me does is try to map the lines from where that contented smile passed, once, that used to make me green in self- loathe for the ungrateful present I looked his life through.
It was a tussle of perspectives, it seems to me now. But the mature woman in me couldn’t understand why the 17 year old girl had to accompany me to this visit today.
People say that as we grow we evolve, the past in us gets left behind and the present replaces that void. They say, we change. And, that it is difficult to find our way back to the past, because it’s not there anymore. But, I believe that the fragments from our past never leave us. They are never really absent from our being, they are just mute, passive and observant. Why else would it hurt to be reminded of something that is in the past?
It’s because those passive cells become active when we are reminded of the history, of what we had thought was water under the bridge. And it begins to ache in all those places all over again.
Something similar happened to the girl in me, I guess. While the distant friend, who is now mature enough to look over the years, comes to visit her friend, the young girl, who was hurt, accompanies to look in the eye of the past and ask him, “how does it feel to step in my shoe?” She never says it loud though. The present is too busy to let the past talk, perhaps, deliberately trying to stay busy so that the past doesn’t slip out. Mind games, indeed!
But the girl is content with what she sees. She sees desperation in his eyes as it had been in her once. She is satisfied to see that, eventually, everyone who causes pain undergoes one himself. She sees that all people break in the same way. Some prefer to shatter at every fall, though. She mourns for the fate of happiness which is ever fleeting and she commends the determination of sadness which is ephemeral. She sees that all the gulps skip the same beat when they gaze into eyes of their lover and find indifference. She sees that in our fall we are all the same and if we were to look for a person as equal as us, look for one who has been through something as challenging.
Ironically, our sadness brings us together. It is that one human nature which can’t be feigned. We all break in the same way, just like we all become the same dust.
She is not here to speak today, neither scream. She just wants to find if the tears trail the same map, as it once mapped her face, on the face of her bygone lover.
In his tribulation is her extrication.