The Phantom of Memories
I woke up and realized it’s been a year since she’s dead. The morning is dull. I need a cup of coffee to kill that stale taste of smokes in my mouth. And I want to write something. It’s a craving of a starved mind ever since … ever since the world turned upside down that day when the clouds had turned reddish half an hour before rain. As if the sky had been shedding red tears on the tender, shapeless sheets of clouds beneath.
People say… I was an unhappy child. They invariably failed to understand me. More than unhappy I could be termed as an aloof. An aloof child who would love to live in the world that had fairies and ogres, genies and magic carpets, Scheherazade and Morgiana. I was a total stranger in the world of adults. With kids of my age I was picky. I would find an inexplicable solace under the cool shade of an oak tree in the long summer afternoons; as if the long branches had taken me into embrace, lulling me into the world of my innocent fantasies. My imagination would work and I used to create many stories – the stories that I never wrote down but always played, with myriad of characters on the stage of my mind.
When I grew up I drowned myself in the world of words. The characters came to life on the pages of my novels. She would often complain that I knew my characters more than her. She… her memory pricks my mind like a sharp knife. Why did she do that? What was that I couldn’t give her? People say my indifference killed her… I say her remorse took her life. When I think of her I feel trapped like a moth in the Lanoxin bottle… grasping for air through the tiny hole in the lid. Was she jealous of my muse – a girl I saw only once in the library. Her innocent face and unadulterated expression gave birth to so many stories. I knew her more in my imagination than in real.
It was an emotional tug of war that was creating gulf between us. I was wrong to think that the cinders of passion were still alight in the ashes. We were actually mourning the gradual death of our relationship… we had hit the stage where birthdays weren’t happy anymore, we had stopped reacting to each others, mental and emotional needs; totally oblivious of one another’s presence. It would have not happened if I had not seen her that day when the clouds had turned reddish half an hour before the rain. She was with him – a guy who worked on the same project. They drove to his home – I followed them, an act I intentionally did. I waited outside experiencing the worst fears and feelings. An hour later the main gate parted. I saw her lean forward and whispered something into his ear. They broke into laughter. Sort of laughter that had been missing in our relationship since long. I felt Krakatoa erupting in my head – the lava pouring out of my eyes and ears.
I became quiet as a rock after that incident. She behaved as if nothing had happened. We were like two strangers living under the same roof. One day she asked me as to what I was writing I said it’s quite violent for your taste. “Why?” she asked. “The husband is planning his wife’s murder.” “What for?” She grew inquisitive. “The wife has committed infidelity.” Her color changed she fell silent and never spoke again about it.
Life seemed shackled – suffocating. I bet she felt the same… maybe it was her guilt killing her minute by minute. I do want to know one thing though. Did she deliberately plan to kill herself or just at the spur of moment pulled the trigger? The gun wasn’t mine – it was her father’s. That is the toughest part to recall. I tried to forget but it keeps coming back.
When I heard the gunshot I ran out of my study to our bedroom. She was lying on the carpet – blood oozing out from her temple. The whole room smelt of blood. I took her in my arms. Her eyelids were fluttering as if hundreds of butterflies trapped in the glass cube are trying to be released. She held my cuff tight – her lips quivering as if trying to say – stop me if you can. Her moments of distress were brief – to me she gave the infinite pain. How easily she got away with her sin – and made me guilty in the eyes of the world more so in my own eyes. I could have set her free – I could have talked with her – I might have been wrong about the whole incident.
Morning after morning I woke up with the same scenes, words, coldness, unfaithfulness, her fluttering eyes and quivering lips. I had never realized she was everywhere… in the closets, drawers, scattered on the pages of my novels and diaries haunting me in my solitude and dreams. One day I put everything on fire that smelt of her.
That day I opened the spillways of my eyes the first time since her passing. I had no idea whether I was mourning the loss of love, her death or disloyalty. I never wanted to be the custodian of dead memories. I had to cremate them… to liberate myself of guilt, pain and the phantom of memories.