The last time he had let anyone touch him, Tanishq was 27 and had nothing on his body. And after the session of the passionate lovemaking was over, it had begun to rain outside, and it had continued to rain like that for some time.
He was sitting on his bed, wiping the sweat off his naked torso by a towel. “Doesn’t the creaking of the bed bother you?” he didn’t know why he asked this question to her time and over again, in the same monotonous tone. She didn’t reply to him, just like she hadn’t replied to this very question for the last so many times he had asked her. He continued wiping the sweat off his body as if he had anticipated this silence, or perhaps, he had asked the question to induce the silence.
“It kind of adds to the fun”, she had retorted the first time he had asked her this question, some ten months back, he was inside her, and they had continued with the act. “Besides, I can’t stand the silence”, she had added, “thank god, your bed kills it”. But he was too happy — and horny — to bother himself as to why would silence bother someone. Especially to someone like her, so young and beautiful. And a few minutes later, they were both resting, and he was drawing imaginary circles on her bareback with his forefinger, and while he did that, in the silence that had ensued in the room, she kept listening to the sounds from the outside; somehow, as he now thinks about her he feels, she always managed to find a source of sound amidst the silence. As she did that day and had asked him to listen to the sound of the drops of the rain, which after falling and striking against the tin shed of the house opposite to his, fell on the ground and flew down into the drain.
Into the oblivion.
He was always the first one to dress up after the sex. And she always rested for a while on the bed, on her stomach, with her bare back to him. And when he’d get up and wear the shorts, she’d ask him to turn the television on or play some music, and then after doing as had been asked of him, he’d climb back on the bed, again, and start making those circles. And once she got up and was ready to dress, he watched her getting dressed up. He always watched her getting dressed up after the sex, and so there were a few things that he knew about her, things like before wearing anything she’d command her phone to book a cab to her place and that she always wore her pant first, and then the top, and while she was wearing her pant, she’d always insert her left leg into it first and then the right which was opposite to the order she followed when it came to the top in which she always inserted her right arm first and then the left. On that day, she told him that his room needed cleaning, and that her black pant had turned brown due to the dust. She dusted the pant and wore it. And just before she left, she also hinted towards the end of all they had between them.
She told him that she was moving abroad, for the masters she had always wanted to pursue, and that although she won’t settle there and won’t indulge with anyone there, she can’t bound him in the relationship while she was away, which as per her would be too much to ask of anyone.
He had wanted to say that he was ready for the long distance relationship.
And that he can wait.
And that they can make it work.
Just like somebody and somebody else had made it work.
But she didn’t know of anyone like that.
Besides her cab had arrived.
Her name was Amaira. And though she wasn’t exactly the kind of girl who made men turn their heads wherever she went, she did have the kind of face that one remembered for long. And her name. Amaira. There were times when he’d call her to just call her name out loud. ‘Amaira, I love you’ he’d say in his husky voice; ‘Amaira, is there a name better than yours?’ Amaira… Amaira… Amaira, and then they would talk about their names. Tanishq and Amaira, Amaira and Tanishq. And how these names would look like, together, on the wedding cards that would one day be printed and in which order should the names be in?
‘My name first, of course’, she had said.
And he had agreed.
And had mounted a kiss her on her forehead.
And this was just two months before the day he had last seen her naked and then getting dressed up, and then booking her cab by voice command, in a voice that he had begun to take for granted.
And had presumed that it belonged to him. Just like he had presumed that she belongs with him, then and forever.
And now. Whenever it rains, he listens to the sound of the drops of water striking against the tin shed, the sound of the water gushing down the street and flowing down into the drain.
Into the oblivion, the oblivion that his life now was.
And he listens to the silence inside his room.
And when he focusses hard, the silence even talks to him.
And sometimes it whispers.
And it whispers only one name.
But that’s the thing about loneliness; it is always felt in colossal enormity, especially more than in what the fulfilment could ever be felt. Had he ever cherished Amaira’s company as much as he missed her presence now? And where had the last two years gone? Years, full of yearning, to have Amaira by his side; to see her name on his phone’s screen and then to hear his name in her voice.
He tries to find a photograph on his phone.
Any photograph. With her face in it.
Any signs that whatever had happened had happened for real.
That she was real and so was their togetherness.
But he had deleted them all, the photos.
From his phone.
From his laptop.
Thinking that doing so would liberate him of her thoughts.
Forgetting that no one ever forgets anything.
Especially when that was what they needed the most.
All this while, these two years, while he was mourning for someone who wasn’t dead, he hadn’t met anyone new, had even ignored the calls from his friends, stopped playing the morning cricket games, and had ignored the shelf that contained the books he had doted on, the cobwebs around them guarding his little treasure.
He opens the shelf and a few spiders scamper. He wears the mask — even before the sinusitis had kicked in he had been allergic to dust — and picks a book up. It has been his second favourite book ever since he first read it. ‘But it sounds immoral’, Amaira had once told him after she had read the back cover of the book. ‘Virtue is vanity dressed up and waiting for applause’ he had replied quoting a line from the book. And then she had kissed him.
He picked up another book, his favourite, and held it close to his face, like a dog sniffing up a new person, and he thought about this book and the other book he had picked before it, about the characters from these two books, about the lines he had loved the most, about the scenes which had made him cry, about the untimely deaths of the characters, and ultimately the bereavement that befell the ones who were alive. His grief was so less in comparison to those, but now he was doing exactly what his father had warned him once, long back, when the father-son duo was sitting under a tin shed at the railway station.
His father had never asked him to stop reading the novels, denigrated as these books and the people who read them were in their place, like something culturally prohibited, pretexted as things which fed into the minds of the readers only wrong ideas of love, of life, of the ways the things were… But his father did tell him that in real life, more often than not, people are left confused between the facts and the fiction, and here he was, lovelorn, having had already wasted few prime years of his life longing for a person, trying to assuage himself by comparing his predicament to those of the characters from the books he had read.
He sits alone and tries hard to understand if it can all be true.
His father’s words. About facts, fiction, and reality.
Love. That he had for her.
Togetherness. That she had given meaning to by being with him.
The last bye. That was so abrupt.
And, the distance between them since then. Which will continue forever.
The image associated with the blog post has been downloaded from https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/1/30/14219498/loneliness-hurts