“Is it getting better?”
“You know… all this.” He hesitates for a while. He has to measure and weigh his words like he never had to do before. I sense what he is talking about. It’s all in front of me like thin air. Still, hoping he’d change the topic, I ask him.
“All this includes what exactly?”
He doesn’t speak, just raises his eyebrows. His eyebrows form this perfect arch. You’d think it’s his smirk accompanying look but it isn’t. It’s the what-is-this look, it’s his are-you-kidding-me look, but right now it’s I-am-begging-you-to-understand-my-wordless-helplessness look.
It’s all it has come down to. Helplessness, complete loss of control over anything small and everything big.
Coming back to his eyebrows, his thick brown eyebrows, if you look at them upside down, it’s his grin, only hairier if you completely put in a smile’s perspective. That is how I recreate his smile these days. I don’t get to see him smile often nowadays.
“Raising your eyebrows to sea level won’t help Yash, please put it in words for me.”
“Fine. How are you dealing with.. *A little fumbling* me.” It’s a question I have no answer to. It’s been a while I sit on the bedside, silently crushing my pillow in sweaty fists.
“I don’t know, and I don’t like not knowing.”
“Stop quoting Sherlock to me and answer the question please.”
“You still get my references or have you recently watched it again.” If nothing else, I know how to dodge questions like a pro. It’s surprising how I have mastered the art.
“You are changing the subject, I’m reducing 2 minutes off our time.”
Our time. Something we both, no, it was just me. Something that I came up with. Rushing between everything, I need assurance that I’ll get that fixed time at the end of a miserable, crushing day or night with him. It’s what my part sanity has to thank for. I have 23 minutes left with him now and I have to stop dodging now. Really hate this part.
“I don’t know what to tell you Yash, I don’t have an answer and when I have one, I’ll tell you I promise.”
“No, you have to, right now. You have 20 more minutes left. And I have to go, don’t keep me tied up here in your indecisive shit.” He is not being rude, he is doing this on purpose.
“You can go, I am not keeping you here, you come down every night.” I shudder at the fake confidence I had mustered to tell him to go, but I am scared to think what if he does go.
“You have to let me go. YOU have to.” He emphasizes on “let me go”. Like he does every night. But I can’t seem to “let you go”. How do I tell him that him leaving was not something I chose, he was just gone, in a moment. Poof! I never got the goodbye I should’ve. I was never done laughing at his bad puns. I was still waiting for our fight list to tally at 20 fights we both initiated, I being in lead at 16 and he, long behind at 7. I still haven’t spoken. There are just cold tears in my eyes which never fall until he leaves. 18 minutes until he leaves.
“Yash, look, I’ll get better.” I lie, eventually. “We all do, I just need my time.”
“We are short on that.”
“I am tired of this now Vedika. We need to stop this. I am gone. Please stop looking for me everywhere you go. This cannot go on, and even if it does, it’s wrong.” He tells me this every night. All the nights of the last three months.
“But I miss you”
“You have to stop missing me. Accept the fact that I, in fact, am missing. And it’s a blank you can’t ever fill.” His eyebrows aren’t arched anymore, the helpless face is fading and I know it’s time.
He fades away slowly, a wordless promise to return eminent between us.
I don’t know how many months will it take me to stop asking him for those 25 minutes. Maybe till the time every petal covering your picture on the wall gives up and falls. Maybe that’s when I’ll give up. And I’ll fall too.