They say time is a great healer. They lie. The wounds you left behind remain. Unhealed and bleeding. Even after these many years. I watch them silently lay siege to my spirit every day. Proud as ever, I pretend I don't notice. It’s cruel to see I still hurt. I have asked myself a million times why. I had vowed to leave you behind. To move on with my life. Yet the memories cling on to me like a petulant child. Seeking my attention desperately. Demanding my time. Stubborn, they refuse to let me escape the responsibility of acknowledging their presence. Why do they insist on following me? Are they bound to me for a reason? Or is it the other way round? Am I the one sifting through the graveyard of time looking for what no longer can be found? Am I bound to chasing ghosts for the rest of my life?
The possibilities never fail to annoy me. You know how I hate ambiguity.
Yes, I have gone back in time for answers. I have met you again and again at the doorsteps of my past. Still young. Still smiling. Still watching me with those playful, translucent eyes that promised me a world I had seen only in my dreams.
Was it first love?
It is hard to decipher a 12-year old’s heart. Even now when I’m forty, I fail to complete the sentences that rose in that 12-year old mind. Or maybe it's really simple to understand but needs a language that’s lost to us as we grow up. I Like the boundless treasures of an ancient civilization that we know did exist but can no longer find.
If you were here today, you would have told me. You always had the answers. You knew too much. I knew too little. Yet you indulged me; let me live out my fantasies. The pride, the vain glory, the know-it-all arrogance, the over-riding need to impress. Did you laugh inside to see me strut by your side? It would have broken my heart if you said yes then. I would have stopped speaking to you. But only for a while. It would have killed me not to tell you about the bad dreams I had, the toy plane I was working on forever that never flied, my flights of fancy into the galaxy I named after you (I never told you that last part, did I?). I have never spoken to anyone except you about the nightmares I had when my mother died. It always felt better when you held my hand in yours and told me how my mother’s now a bright shining star in the sky forever watching over me. I knew it was a lie. But the look in your eyes never let me tell you otherwise. I pretended to believe so that I could see you smile. I didn’t know you knew that too. You too were pretending to believe me when I said we will be together for the rest of our lives. I know that well-meant deceit for what it is now. Or else why did you leave me behind? Why did you walk away with a stranger who didn’t even know the little things that (I knew) made you smile (167 things, as I counted, till the day you became a bride and bid me goodbye. I wrote them down in a notebook every night. It was to be a gift to you. Someday. I wanted it to surprise you. And make you smile. I would have added one more reason that makes you smile to my list on that night.)
Did you not trust me enough with your happiness? Did you doubt my love? Did you not see how happy I was when I was with you? Where you not happy with me? My life was nothing but the wind that would fuel the fire your life was meant to be. My dreams were nothing but lingering thoughts of you even when I did sleep. What happened to the love? What happened to the fantasy we both called our own so proudly?
Did we both learn to pretend too much with time? To keep each other smiling, did we start to live lies?
I had wanted to be angry with you for a long while. I couldn’t. Instead I kept trying to find justifications for what you did. I couldn’t find any but I couldn't give up looking. I hoped that someday I will know why it had to be this way – me getting old alone with only your memories for company and you in some foreign land, in a foreign hand, living amongst people you now call your family. I will no longer know now. You will no longer have to comfort me with a lie. No longer will I have to pretend to believe you, just to see you smile. Our story will have to end without an ending tonight. I won’t wonder if you miss me anymore. I won’t wonder if you worry about my failing health or shabby clothes. Or if I have found my place in this vast world without you. Death absolves one of all worldly responsibilities, once you told me so. And now you are free. If you can hear me, I want you to know that I’m fine. I am getting old. As people do. Like most, I too am not much worried about being happy anymore. Instead I will find my peace in being content. Knowing that you shine like a bright star in the sky, watching over me. If I don’t wipe my eyes tonight, know that it’s because you will always remain with me like a tear uncried.