He had moved out of the previous apartment when it had become impossible for him to touch anything in it without feeling her touch on his hand. And this, he came to learn, as is the case with most of the other things a man learns only with the passage of time, happened to a lot of people in their lives. Almost all of his friends – who were once with someone and then alone – were haunted by at least one beautiful thing that their lovers used to do to them – which for the others seemed like the stupidest of the things one living person would ever do to the other.
The apartment was also quite spacious – too big for anyone living alone – and uninhabitable for someone who has been deserted. The spacious rooms — even the office where he worked especially when it was empty — only served to intensify the emptiness within his heart. And so he resolved to move into a much smaller flat. All this was done soon after she had vanished. She didn’t break up with him. She vanished – like a stray cat that comes to your kitchen for days at a stretch and then disappears. As if a void had opened and swallowed it. There were never any promises of togetherness from her, but promises, now seem to him, so trivial a tool in the matters of the heart. Hackneyed. And so futile. And so he continued doing what he was good at. He kept on breathing.
The worse part about anything that happens to someone is not that thing itself. More often than not it is the people who one has to face after that anything has stricken them. He also had a few prying people like that around him who’d always ask him about her. And a few others who pushed the conversations a little further, and whenever they met him, speculated about his moving out of that sumptuous flat he used to live in. He always told them that he had been reading a few books on Buddhism lately. It seemed fitting — and though it wasn’t funny — it worked. Every time.
Now once he had faced these people and overcome their inquisitiveness, all that remained between him and the peace he craved for was to detach himself from the source that had reduced him into the shambles. And so he began to focus more on the things that demanded concentration and time and in the process rendered himself busier than ever.
But busy yourself as much as you can and you’ll still die someday. How relevant it seems in the case of memories. And so on one particular night, for no reason, he found his gaze fixed at the clock. The clock bore the semblance of a frowning clown, its needles resembling the legs spread at an angle. Like a demure girl trying to lure her lover. Her body doing all the talking, promising him the kind of love that every man deserves at least once in his life. He was seated on the dilapidated chair — that screeched every time he turned or made even the slightest movement — and kept staring at the clock’s legs. He was fascinated by her legs once. ‘I love your legs’ he had told her, the first time they had been together in bed. ‘Legs, seriously?’ she had asked him and then she had laughed. There was something about that laughter that had since then been imprinted in his brain. It had bordered subtly between what one calls a smile and a grin, the kind of laughter that only being bare in someone’s arms elicits out of you. In hindsight, it was her laughter more than her legs that now often troubled his lonely soul convincing him that as one – especially someone who thinks more than what deems normal – grows old, most of the vague memories from the past gain an exceptional clarity about the smaller details in them and then everything about these memories turn into a source of pain. And so now when he tried recalling the memories from when they were together and tried to remember the details about her he invariably ended up thinking about her legs, which in hindsight he finds far from being perfect for whenever she didn’t use the epilator for long she seemed like the most imperfect girl in the world. But he liked them – her and her legs – in all their imperfections. ‘Ain’t this tenderness towards someone’s foibles love?’ he had asked her once. He was 23 then, the age at which ‘love’ has the maximum number of definitions as per one’s suitability. She hadn’t said anything to reply, but she hadn’t laughed either.
He tried diverting his mind off her memories. He scanned his pockets for the mobile but he had left it in the room. He threw a glance out from the window but unlike a day a night doesn’t offer one a clear picture of the time. It had to be late for it is always late when one starts thinking about someone’s legs, especially the ones whom they’d never see again. He got up from the chair and it screeched, convincing him that the impudent chair screeched more out of habit these days. Do things form habits too? Like his brain heading straight to her legs for no reason. He resolved in his mind to fix the clock the next day. The only thing apart from the gloominess within his heart that kept on growing, was the list of the things that needed fixation, which started with his heart and his brain.
The image has been taken from google.