Unfinished equations

A fictional phone conversation…

Blue: I wonder if you come across me on the pages of an old book, as I do. You are such an old chapter that even the memories have become sparse, but suddenly, in an aberrant note in the corner of a notebook, or an old pressed rose, you come back to haunt me. Will the way it punches me in my gut, ever get any weak?

Brown: I don’t need books. I am still confused, every person I like resembles you. I don’t even think I like them for who they are, just because they remind me of you. I have stuck myself in a self-destructive loop, and I don’t understand how I will ever forget you when my mind keeps finding more and more ways to confine me to you.
Here I am living you out day in and out and you are complaining of some dust I left behind! Some dust that inconvenienced you!

Blue: It was always that with us, wasn’t it? My feelings came in bursts, and I thought you were placid, unfeeling – only you were probably on an even curve throughout. I was always the one who loved more and –

Brown (interrupting ): No, you were merely the one who loved more intensely. ‘Intense’ and ‘more’ aren’t always the same. Aren’t you the mathematics geek? What do you think amounts to more – high peaks and low troughs, or a curve that always plateaus on the positive side?

Blue: Come on, how can you possibly bind feelings into algorithms and equations?

Brown: You really have changed, haven’t you! Don’t you remember one of the last things you told me? That we are not working out as ‘we’, the ‘equation’ is perverted, imbalanced, toppling? And suddenly now love isn’t mathematical? Why, is it because it no longer suits your explanations?

The pen had trailed off at this point, perhaps I was sleepy/sad/bored or maybe having a writer’s block. I never got back there. And I deserted Blue and Brown with an unfinished conversation, like most people who were once close and are now strangers.

Of concrete kissed skies

For as long as I remember being able to read, I would spend entire afternoons on the terrace of my grandparents’ home, lying over the quilt laid there for fluffing in the sun, with a replenishable bowl of snacks made by Didu, munching on them as I devoured novels faster than the food. The terrace air of Bengal winters used to smell of the oil of mango pickles, lukewarm sunshine, and love.

Many a summer evening I have rushed to the terrace, originally sent by mom on an errand to pick up the clothes spread across cloth lines before the evening thunderstorm came and drenched them all, and hopping with my bare feet like a sparrow over the concrete burning from the day’s sun I have finished the job sent up for. But then, I have lost myself standing there in the tantrum of the kaalboishakhis and written a hundred poems about the wonders it does to a flightless, migratory heart. The terrace air of Bengal summers used to smell of petrichor, and rain, and poetry, and reckless abandon.

I have forged my first love story on the same terrace. One evening, in the age where a slight touch of hands would convey more static and electricity than whole foreplays of adulthood, I remember sitting on the small staircase on my terrace that leads up to the smaller terrace overhead- sitting there next to a boy with brown tousled hair, dark brown eyes and cheeks just about shadowed by puberty, sitting there with my head on his shoulders, our voices too meek and choked and drowned by the battledrums playing out in our hearts. The memory of terrace air of Bengal dusks smells of my first love, of the breath of a teenager who spreads roots into my heart, and of a 100 conflicting emotions too strong for my mortal body to hold.

Night after night during my older years, the terrace has heard tales of my heart- how it fell, how it mended, how it broke. Sometimes it has heard and probably soaked in more than the person on the other end of the call, as I walked impatiently all over it wondering where I am headed to. Late into the starry and starless hours of the night with the changing geometries of the constellations and the spreading darkness across the face of the moon, a terrace has heard the shatter of the heart of a hopeless romantic, like a déjà vu. And it has seen me grow into a different, hopefully better person through it. It has heard me scared and still tiptoeing into love again. The abysmal night skies of the hostel terrace used to smell of coming of age emotions, of breaking chains, of finally finding myself.

And now. For the last 6 years I am trapped in a campus with high-rise buildings with terraces too overgrown with dried leaves and mould and moss because we do not step on them. Because wired barricades stop us from stepping on the accessible level of cloud 9 that we have right in front of us because people are scared that life has probably taken its toll so hard on us that even a terrace would only mean a opening to glide down. Standing across the door that stops me from stepping onto the terrace these Sunday evenings, I ache to smell what all the terraces in my memories had in common- the smell of Freedom.

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