• bluebird 95w

    I've loved someone before and I am in love with someone right now. It's almost as if they love you back, except when they actually love you more than you think you deserve. Trust me you'd know.

    ▪honey, there's a pimple on your chin▪

    "What about the things we did?
    You know it wasn't easy letting you in,
    So how could you leave without me?
    How do you go to sleep without me?
    me"
    - letting you in; awfultune

    "I can't really see much, so I'd pluck out the ones I am able to see", I felt my pillow sinking next to my right ear, the ruffling noises making it altogether familiar, just as she got up and put all of her weight on her dominant hand; her hand still smelling of coriander from the afternoon meals. My mother's eyes always squinch whenever I ask her to pluck out the most notorious hair strands that fall out of my eyebrow outline; the thinner ends of the thread slithering in and out of her mouth . Laying on the bed, stretching out my skin in front of her, while she rotates her hand to thread out my unwanted facial hair, makes her seem like a professional who herself never required such a treatment. Sometimes the wet ends of her thread touch my forehead and yet I don't find it preposterous enough to stop her from doing her task.

    "Tsk, it broke again, what a waste of time" and then she makes that face which makes her white hair seem even more beautiful along her receding hairline.

    It often hurts more when she moves over to my right eyebrow; her arm not setting straight enough to feel comfortable on my breast as she shapes my eyebrow.

    It often hurts more.

    "You know how much I hate bright lights, Amme."
    "Yes, but they help me see your hair."
    And then she goes on playing the switchboard like a piano.
    "It's the first switch." I smile while rubbing my eyes.
    "You just lay down."
    "There's three lights right above me, you know I get a serious migraine this way."
    "Just fifteen minutes."
    And I close my eyes.
    "You know, I can see that circular light everywhere when I close my eyes."
    And I disturb her focus, the thread breaks again.
    "Amme?"
    "Hmm?"
    "It reminds me of that bus."
    "What bus?"
    "My school bus."

    My school bus. It was as far as the dairy from our place. But then you don't even know how far the dairy was. There was a huge park in front of our home, a posh area, somewhere we didn't belong. My cousin and I used to walk barefoot around it's pavement and pluck flowers for our mothers, but stopped once I began feeling bad for the flower itself, how could I break it to the prettiest jasmines that all they ever produce is just one smile. Then there was an extraordinarily brilliant plot having all of the lamps around it's vines lit when we got on the road, walking towards the main road. The lamps on the street were still on, dimmer than last nights. And there was another building that had been under construction since I remember. There was a pile of small pebbles in front of it, and once I'd walk all over it, only to have my unpolished school shoes get dirty with faeces. Most of the days I couldn't walk straight and had to cling onto my mother, who held my heavy backpack and a container for milk. Those were the days when old men jogging around and riding bicycles would tell me to eat clarified butter to get my body strong enough to hold my own backpack, all with one hand. Somedays I used to forget my charts at home, so I'd have to run back, open the main door without making my brother awake, to fetch them. I'd ask my mother to reach the bus stop in case the bus reached before I did, which was rare enough. Then we crossed the guard, the temple and finally the road.

    My bus stop. It was where every other public bus would've stopped, where we'd struggle with our mother to find a transport to get to our grandmother's, when our father slept at home with his car keys in front of the photograph of his parents. Somedays rickshaw drivers would stop and offer a ride. Other days pilgrims wandered in orange, drinking a mild drug in their milk, or perhaps in blue as well, with a dagger hanging against their waist. I'd watch the metro go by; apparently, I wasn't old enough to quit the bus route and hop on the metro by myself. But the truth be told, I didn't want to. How could I?

    "Here! Right here! Stretch here. I can't get this hair out."
    And I opened my eyes, the light almost blinded me.
    "Use the plucker maybe."
    "Wait"
    And she'd not stop until my skin goes red and my hands slipped off of it because of the oil that I just applied.
    "Ah, I know what to do. I'm going to use the tweezers. Why didn't you remind me?" She'd say.

    The school bus would become visible from afar. Stopping at the traffic lights, one at a time. One of its headlights blinking all the way through, and the other open always. We joked about how it was winking at my mother. And then some random man, being drunk from last night near the liquor store would sing a cheap bollywood song while passing right next to us, just when I happened to laugh. The bus would come and stop right in front of me, no matter where I stood. And I'd climb up, searching for someone I wished was late to board the bus, just not late enough to miss it altogether. When I didn't see him in the midst of a crowd, I'd watch the metro go by. Somewhere in there, he was. Somewhere in there, I should've been.

    But then, when the bus would be late by five minutes or more, I waited for the rumbling of an engine behind us. Stopping by the liquor shop, next to the restaurant that was closing down, somewhere I loved to be. My mother had never noticed my eyes looking for a motorcycle behind us, whether it was a foggy day or a rainy one. She had never noticed me looking sideways, instead of eyeing the bus, not when she'd get busy scoffing at my father and sometimes at the boys who drove their motorbikes faster than they could handle.

    "Open your eyes, look at me"
    "What?"
    "Pay attention, look here. Should I clean your forehead too?"
    "Yes please. Thanks."
    "And the upper lip?"
    "No. Don't get too handy, you know it hurts me more."

    On some lucky days, my eardrums would tremble from an approaching vehicle. An all black bike, driving in perfect motion, not fast enough to catch my mother's attention. He'd stop, step down and push back his hair, setting them in place as he watched into the driver's mirror. He'd pick up his bag, probably carrying just one notebook, as opposed to mine, carrying the entire library within. "Why is yours so fat and heavy, it's almost about to burst open." My mother would say, when she looked at him despite me asking not to be too obvious.

    He'd have a loose tie around his neck; his hair, brown, still a bit imperfect than the way I would've set them. His hands always in his pockets, a pant over which he wore no belt, a coat and a shirt with folded sleeves. He'd pretend not to have noticed me, until he wanted to, when he gave his deadly smirks almost making me fall down to my knees. A smile traded back and that would unlock his wink. Sometimes I blushed a bit too hard for it to be the winter season. Other times I wondered if I wasn't the only one to receive that smile. And then there were times I wouldn't bother to look at him; times when he made a face that begged for forgiveness, after having just bullied me or my friends the previous day.

    He'd always step in on the bus after me, and that did make my mother proud. Looking back over my shoulder, he struggled to make a clumsy heart with his fingers. And I'd laugh with my imperfect teeth as he followed with his perfect ones. That crooked walk towards me when I dropped my handkerchief, the one with the rose on? The one I painted? Yes. That one. He had pinned it onto his diary through which he wrote me Letters to Inanimate Objects. I'd tell my mother how I had lost countless handkerchiefs to incidents I no longer remember, receiving her scoldings in return. But that was all okay when he asked me to wipe off the sweat from his forehead, the food from the edge of his lips. That was all okay when he wiped off my tears when I found out that in fact, I wasn't the only one.

    That rose painted handkerchief smelled of chocolate when he rubbed against my cheeks, the day I couldn't stop crying when I found out how he and his friends admired me changing clothes. That was probably when I first slapped him, hard enough to remind him how much I had loved him and how much he had forgotten to give back, despite the reluctant kisses he had stolen from me in his treehouse.

    And then he was gone. No more slow paced motorbikes. No more sleepy faces against the window side of the bus behind my seat. No more smiles. No more handkerchiefs.
    Just that diary that I buried with his body. And a letter.

    No more kisses.
    No more heavy backpacks.
    No more walks towards the bus stops.
    Just those lonely rides in the metro, the women's section.

    "Oh my God? Does it hurt? Is it bleeding? Why are you crying?"
    And I opened my eyes.

    It often hurts more.

    "I'm okay. I'm not crying. It's just the light that's bothering me."
    "Okay. Thank God. We're done here. Check yourself in the mirror."
    "It's great. Thank you."

    "What about the things we did?
    You know it wasn't easy letting you in,
    So how could you leave without me?
    How do you go to sleep without me?
    me"
    - letting you in; awfultune

    -K

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    ▪honey there's a pimple on your chin▪