red was the colour of your day
the undertones in your speech and the words that you said.
wet were the eyes that looked for an answer
biting hard on lips that tasted saltwater.
deep was the frown etched on your forehead
as you battled the pounding of your incessant ache.
quiet you were, as you sat in your place
while your soul exploded in your silenced day.
Dear little marionette,
Why were you so angry today? I watched you closely, as you sat huddled over in a corner, as if cradling your hurt. I reached out but your walls were too high. Did you hear me call your name?
No one knew what you were going through. No one, because… you didn’t utter a sound. Only your computer screen saw the real you, because each time someone asked you a question, you slipped behind a mask before turning around with the brightest, loveliest of smiles. It was terribly, achingly convincing.
You weren’t always such an actor.
Remember the time you were three, and life was too confusing to understand? You vented your frustrations with wild abandon, only to find yourself locked in a cupboard. They couldn’t handle you, so they put you behind doors where they didn’t need to deal with the tantrums. Is that why you now put yourself behind such thick walls? Is this your form of protection?
I would’ve admired your strength today, if you weren’t cutting yourself in the process.
But I’m glad you managed to gather enough sense to send a message out to a friend, asking for help. You didn’t need answers then… you just needed someone who would understand. Someone who wouldn’t judge you, but cared enough to let you be yourself. Those few minutes helped and when you stood up to meet your next appointment, you did it with such cheer, I nearly believed you were better.
Until I saw you between the moments.
You walked with the stride of a weary man, your face loosened into a frown.
And oh! How the tears fell when you thought no one was looking… but I was. And when you weren’t looking, I gathered the little saltwater droplets into my bottle. Every little tear that caressed your face before it hit the table, I found precious, I couldn’t let them dry up into nothingness. Because what you went through today, wasn’t nothing to me. No, it meant everything.
That was why I delayed you back in the office till everyone had left. I needed some time with you. Alone. Now weren’t you surprised when I turned up?
‘What are you doing here?‘ you hissed at me. ‘How dare you turn up?‘
‘I need you to understand…‘ I began. But you turned away.
‘I wanted to understand! I asked, but there were no answers. I cried but there was no comfort. I raged but there was no release. You’re too late.‘ You said, and I felt your pain.
‘I am never late’. I answered. ‘I was there before the pain entered. I was there in the cupboard with you, in the darkness, years ago. I was there alone, before you began to understand loneliness. I was abandoned before you were born. I am never late.’
You didn’t reply. But I saw you begin to cry again.
And this time, when I came over to sit by your side, you let me.
I entered your pain then as yours began to dissolve.
‘I know you don’t understand but is it enough if I do? Will you let me be the one to shoulder all that you’re going through?’ I asked you.
You reached out to hold my hand.
Will the day come when you realize how precious that one movement of yours meant to me? I don’t know… but I loved you all the more, when you were weak.
Because it was then that you allowed me to be your strength.
I will always be here. And I will never, ever, leave you.
The Dream Maker
JD Salinger once wrote, ‘She wasn’t doing anything I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together…’
I’ve been trying to be strong for too long. And the harder I try, the weaker I grow. I used to think that if I didn’t hold the universe together, no one else would, for me. So I held tighter to the strings, pulling things with just the right amount of tautness, careful not to disrupt the orbit of every demand, every responsibility, every role… until I couldn’t anymore.
But while the day was a tormenting one… at least, I have found a semblance of peace in the break down. Maybe my universe will fall apart, and maybe it won’t. But at least, I’m not alone.
[To Smiley: may you find your peace too, in being completely, entirely, unable to do everything. It is a beautiful letdown, when we can finally fall apart. And one day… we’ll have our wide open spaces.]