Ex and Why

This is me going off on a late night babbling spree, proceed at your own risk.

I’m one of those girls who firmly believe that you can’t stay friendly with an ex, too many memories, plus the risk that some feelings may have never died and you definitely don’t want to be ambushed by them. Additionally it’s slightly painful to listen to their love stories with someone else, that realization that you’ve been replaced and I’m an over competitive person who goes by the notion that in every break up, there is one party that wins and the other that sulks and stays miserable (cue my entry).

A while back though, pushed and prodded by the ex, I tried to stay in touch with the penultimate ex, for the sake of convenience let’s call him Y. Now as all my relationships go, wherein out of four, I’ve been cheated on thrice and I really hope the third time does the trick and I no more have to deal with this ordeal again. Anyhow back to the point, I and Y had it bad, petty fights and stupid insults for a year and then I put my foot down, sure the both of us were mature enough to manage a cordial conversation at the least.

And from that instant it got better, we have a typical no expectations from each other working, talk only if we want to, also talk about what went wrong, with me going back to calling him names, and he accepting his mistakes and pulling my leg too in that process, things have never been better.

Similarly with the first boyfriend, though he is in a separate continent right now, we have pretty much managed to turn into familiar strangers. An occasional hello email, or wishing each other on birthdays to not clamming/cringing on the mention of the few memories we made, though I do have to state that I steer clear of the songs that he would always sing when we were together, still jump channels and skip those particular songs. I did make the effort though of sitting through them once but it wasn’t just worth it, plus never appealed to my music sense.

With the one that happened between the first ever and Y, things have been slightly weird. We don’t talk to each other regularly and I can’t remember when his birthday is for the love of god but he manages to wish me every year and sends me on a guilt trip. And there is the resolution daze that happens come December where you promise to be the better person and forgive and forget, hence we promise to stay in touch but as soon as the calendar hits January, all of it goes into the trash.

But the major reason of why I’ve come to write my thoughts on the internet, is him.

As pathetic as it may sound, I want to be friends with this guy, for a lot of reasons he was good for me. Kept me in my head, calmed me down, and for pure selfish reasons though I’d definitely be hurting but his presence is very stabilizing, that came off wrong but you get it right? That general feeling when you have a bad day at work but as soon as you enter the lane where you live, all of it peels away, knowing that you can sulk and brood and lick your wounds and recover to fight another day.

Much to the disappointment of everyone out here who has read me crib about this for almost a year and a half, I called him yesterday, and he didn’t take the call. Though he did send me a text that accused me of calling him at times when I knew that he’d be asleep, questioning me what purpose my calls did serve.

Here’s the thing, not everything has to serve a purpose. Sometimes you want to have to do something just for the heck of it, no meaning attached. And what is the big deal in having a I-won’t-strangle-you-to-death-and-let’s-be-familiar-strangers kind of a relationship with someone?!

I’m terribly bad at being a friend which makes me the ideal candidate for such a relationship!

I don’t text or call my friends obsessively, no hello messages, if there was a favour to ask or just a one off conversation that I feel like having, I call! It’s pretty cheap and there is no stupid slack in the conversation, you could always camouflage the silence or awkward pauses with a lame I just remembered I have something to do excuse and needn’t call them back till you don’t feel like. Texting leaves behind documentary proof, and well who remembers the tiny details of every telephone conversation?

The point of this post is to pose a question, with the X being an unknown, does adding another variable Why help? Do we just let things be in the past or extend an olive branch?

Or follow the age old ex rule – Neither forgotten nor forgiven.

Translation

Last week I was in another city, much different than the place where I live in. Truth be told most cities are the same, -ish maybe. The same wide long roads, a bunch of malls stacked together with the high end brands sporting massive billboards, in all colours plain, simple text and a woman looking into the distance, crowded railway stations and one massive university campus.

But last week took me to heaven and back, I stayed at the home of a complete stranger, 4 girls shared a flat and I, a day and a half. For the first time in weeks managed to wake up without the innate dread of reading the same books, instead I woke up to a cup of hot chai, warmer conversations, buttered garlic bread and the comfort of a bed, blanket and cold marble tiles.

Dragging myself awake, I spent the day watching sex and the city, its brilliance and relevance, of how a decade and a half later too these women are ones that I have always loved, cried when they did, laughed along and ooh-ed and aah-ed over cosmopolitans and sex. Gobbled down a plate of hot maggi for lunch, took a nice long warm bath, and went out for a walk in the neighbourhood complex. Followed by salt, lime and green apple vodka, dinner and stories, the next day’s headache hangover of hurrying for a train, dashing through the platform like a headless chicken and finding myself back with Jem and Scout of, ‘To kill a mockingbird’.

On some streets you never walk the entire way, like bookmarks, dog eared pages, memories of a favorite dress on a good day hanging in your closet, or that tiny divine amount of body mist that still lies at the bottom of a bottle, living another day, waiting to take you back in time.

On the streets of Pune, I resisted myself from walking up the hill road, those long broad streets with ice cream parlors and restaurants lining it and watched the road curve and disappear, book marking it to make sure I come back, another day and walk the stretch. The chill in the air, scoops of swiss chocolate icecream, a borrowed red windbreaker, rumi’s poems and incomplete love stories.

Leaving tiny crumbles of my heart along the way I hope to find my way back, in the maze of lanes that cross a railway crossing and walk right into a vegetable market, the familiar sounds, rishkas on the street and mouth-watering beguni in Calcutta, Of a road that boasts shops and cars alike yet turns a corner into the Sunday second hand book market in Hyderabad, Of massive fields of green, a lake or two, bridges, towns and people speeding away as the train runs on clock, sharing seats with toddlers who have taken a fancy to my white hair clip, PhD students poring over their research papers, absent minded baritone singers, loud debates on politics and Bollywood over dip chai and lays.

Just when you think you have found yourself, you bump into another part of your being that you never knew existed, in new friends, places, winding roads, strangers, that makes me wonder.

Do you get lost or found in translation?

Ghat

On summer evenings, I’d venture out, with a shawl draped across my shoulders, few nankhatais, half crumbled in my palm and walk to the ghats. Sorcery knows no name better suited than evenings spent with a ghat.

Surreal how the noise of hawkers selling jhaal muri and khelana , young lovers stealing precious seconds, women who offer diyas and flowers to Ganga, priests chanting hymns and azaan from the mosque across the street fill the air.

The naukara majhi’s hoarse voice declaring his last call for a ride across the river, scuttering of people with their office satchels slung across their chest and vegetable bags weighing them down, the loud incessant chiming of bells, washes over you. A sense of calm in all the chaos that this world is.

I have spent hours listening to the river sometimes murmur, at times gurgle and burble while it brushes past the stairs leading into the river, creaking of the boat when anchored to the shore, tipping from one edge to the other, ripples that clang against the metal chains, the smell of salt and a concoction of camphor, incense and coconut unfurl.

A cold breeze caresses my arms and I pull the shawl closer, nibbling on the biscuits and looking across the river, for as far as I can see. A blurred bridge on the farthest end, dense forest on the opposite bank and in the midst the river, in all her might, a dozen boats sailing against her currents, in a fight to reach the shore.

Busy bodies walk by the side of me, drooping shoulders wanting to rest their backs. Few pause and mutter, a silent prayer or an unfulfilled wish, rishkas line in anticipation of passengers, pedlars enticing children with spinning tops and paper windmills.

The sky changes her colours, blazing yellows and bright oranges, she paints into blues and violets, grey with a streak of vermillion, the moon peaks out to make an appearance and the sun sets. I wait at her banks, till all I can see are the dark trees swaying and lights flickering across the other end.

Sweeping the crumbs off my palms, I walk down the stairs, curl my fingers around the ripples of the river. Like a mother, ever protecting and always watching over, I take her blessings, sprinkle water over my head and walk back, knowing that some memories beat within, like a second heart.