“You can open up to me”. The flickering red light of the phone relayed the message. “I am a happy pill, or so people say. I’m a good listener”. He felt annoyed. “I don’t want a happy pill. I don’t want to be happy.”, a brief second passed before the rattling sounds of the touch screen resumed. “I want someone to understand my suffering and feel pain with me”. Was it a bit too harsh? Always more honorable to be a masochist than a sadist. The dimly lit room now turned pitch black.
Water lilies. Memories have a specific smell. Apparently, they remind you of home, that’s what she used to say. I don’t have any early memories of home. Not my house, rather a home. Perhaps a vague figment existed. It didn’t take long for that to shatter into pieces. Each blister of pain, grief, and shame led the kid to bury his longing. A tad too early to use a hatchet, yet he taught himself.
Certain strong memories do stand out, figments talk eventually. It plays out like a movie in my head. I can see a five-year-old running down an aisle, holding his mother’s hand. His smile flares out, even the light red gums accompanying the partially developed teeth, noises of excitement animated by the gestures of tiny little hands. They were at some gathering, a work party I think. His mother had just won the lucky draw for a set of ceramic plates, the starter pack of Indian Housewarming Gifts. Nonetheless, the little boy was proud of his mother. Certainly, winning a draw is nothing to be proud of. But maybe it wasn’t about the draw?
It was the final one of the three prizes. Ordered from best to worst. Not hearing the familiar name brought tears to his eyes, until the final draw. That’s the story behind the infamous walk, a remnant of what was lost. I can still picture little tears behind his eyes, falling back as their job here was done.
Was it that very same figment, its presence seeking attention, that resonated on her confession? “You smell like Water Lilies”, she said. Here was a chance, a chance to quench the longing. And he leaped.
Few months have passed since. Between all the regular fights, the violent, dreary ones, the realization had dawned in – what was lost remained, and perhaps will remain, lost. She had no broken wings after all. Maybe he wanted her to have broken wings. So much so that he painted a picture of her, one that the little child inside hoped to paint.
He was the only person with broken wings. Why did they call it broken? There was no rational answer. It was stronger, faster, and better for taking flight. Perhaps it was deemed broken precisely by its virtue. Icarus flew too close to the sun, that’s what the people say.
Amongst the crowds, in the hallways, and even up the stars, I chased for them. A handful of examples in history, deceased ones, sometimes flying too close to the sun, were all I could find. When one feels grey, hears grey, and smells grey not just sees it, one realizes how alone we really are. The search, the longing, a pursuit in vanity.
He had deluded himself into believing – until he saw the same half-broken wings with shades of black. Given enough time, the mind plays tricks on the eyes. Distorting reality itself, and just when you reach the top – you’ll realize how close to the ground you are.
No, she did not have broken wings.
Melancholic Hope. Ironic, but that’s the point. When hope ceases to exist, a yellow aura of sadness creeps in. Sometimes, especially on rainy evenings, it puts a smile on your face. As you sip your coffee, the bitterness synonymous with every caffeine junkie, you’ll realize the true nature of that smile – acceptance.
Perhaps I, and the kid inside, still seek another pair of broken wings. Even with complete realization of its futility. We just can’t help it.
The wings long to be seen. To not be convicted of being broken, rather to be appreciated for its virtue.