Loneliness is a bitch. There are days I wake up feeling complete, and then others where emptiness fills my heart like it’s the only day remaining. I hate to admit this but the fact is, people can surround me, engage me, make me laugh, but nothing is sufficient enough to erase the loneliness that eternally fills me up. The gnawing hollowness in my chest that I feel every time I close my eyes is, in a strange way, calming. I like being alone in both the best and worst of times, it is my personal cleanser, the means by which I detoxify my mind and body so that I can again open up the doors of my life to all those who care.
The morning is bright and the birds chirping, but amidst all of this, I feel a strange tug at my heart as if someone is calling out to me. This can well be a figment of my imagination, but deep down I know it exists, a picture with the brightest of reds and yellows, as vivid as my favourite memories, it exists. As my favourite song plays in my ears and my feet tap away in restlessness, all I want is to meet that one person who will erase the loneliness. Not that I am unhappy the way I am, in fact, I make myself the happiest (all modesty aside). It’s just the need my heart has for that one person who will replace the solitude and fill it up with their light and energy. As heart breaking as this might sound, we are never enough for ourselves. We all need that one person who makes us want to be ourselves and, cheesy as it may be, is always by our side. I am a headstrong and practical person, and, as my best friend puts it, I am quite a ‘bore’ in the romance department, but the truth is, I am just like any other 22 year old. A born romantic and madly enthused by the concept of ‘the one’. Like so many others out there, I too long for old school romance, like in those classic Mills & Boons books and 80s Hindi movies.
The rain patters against the windows of the penthouse, a perfect representation of the state of my heart in that millisecond. I stare blankly at the skyscrapers in the distance, trying to picture my life had it not been caged here. Maybe I could have become a musician, a rockstar known to the world as Anya, simply Anya. No surname to follow, no wedding band to bind. Simply Anya.
“Anya?” Ishaan’s voice snapped me back to my hard reality. This is my life’s ugliest truth, a truth that I was going to need to learn to live with for the rest of my being.
As I turned to face him, my heart began to resurface from its polluted pool muddled with the nastiest of feelings and the craziest of ideas. It was time to reopen the doors of my life and welcome he who I was now bound to for the rest of my eternity, as we both fought with our hearts to embrace this new reality. It was time to become Mrs. Anya R Narayan.
“Di, you know her well enough by now to know that I am the last person she will listen to. Why don’t you talk to her? She’s open and honest with you about things, maybe have a chat to her directly and ask her what you just asked me. That might give you a better answer than what I’m offering.” An edge to my voice, I rattled my sister. It was evident by the long silence at the other end of the phone, but to my defence, what else was she expecting me to do? For the past three months, all I was expected to do was answer the string of questions and concerns that hung over my head like a black halo, posed by those near and dear to me in an attempt to comprehend what had made me tie the knot with the one woman who left me puzzled like no other. I watched the rain patter against the window of my study, waiting patiently for my sister’s crisp comments on my thoughts. After all, we had been having this conversation in this setting every week for the past three months.
“Fine. I’ll go and talk to Anya but you, my dear brother, need to take control of your life. It is high time you do something about yourself, you’re married, you cannot be going on in this nonchalant manner for the rest of your life. If not for yourself, at least consider the other person involved in this relationship. Ishaan, this is as difficult for her to understand as it is for you.”
Typical Di. She is the only living being I know who is able to demand, command and reprimand all in two sentences.
“Okay.” That’s it, that has been the most used conversation ender for majority of our discussions these past three months.
The rain outside gradually slowed to a trickle, mist beginning to form on the windows. Where my hand previously rested on the window, there was now a fog print tracing my fingers, droplets beginning to drip down the ends of the shape. I smiled inherently, reminiscing my childhood art classes where Di and I used to dab our hands into paints – red, green, yellow and blue (green being my favourite) – then printed shapes onto white sheets of paper that Ma framed and hung up around the house. It was amusing as a 10-year old to watch my mother boast about her children’s art skills to friends and relatives alike, animatedly discussing our creativity and ways in which she imagined we would put these to use in our teenage years. That unfortunately was a dream of Ma’s that I never fulfilled. It had been 10 years since I last touched paints onto a piece of paper. It was as if I had lost my creativity and the urge to be consumed by the passion that paints burned within me as soon as the teenage years hit. Peer pressure, the need to be number one in every race of life, the want to have a status in society that was unparalleled and of course, that familiar sense of the opposite gender that comes with hitting adolescence took over so strongly, that I left behind those small pleasures that never failed to put a smile on my face.
I settled at my desk, switching on my MacBook to put in a few solid hours of work after the past few unproductive weeks that flew behind or at least, that was the initial plan, until my eyes fell on the frame perched at the corner of my desk. My wedding photo or rather, our wedding photo – Anya’s and mine. All hesitance aside, I have to admit that she is beautiful, not the traditional beautiful, more a mysterious charm that pulled people towards her the second they set eyes on her. That’s what attracted me to her the first time I saw her, precisely six months and two days ago. That charm, combined with her sunshine smile that held sufficient volts to light up my entire house, or rather, our entire house – Anya’s and mine. The part I found the strangest is the fact that I never remembered dates, times or events of any sort until they mattered to me, but ironically, every date, time or event associated with Anya was etched in my mind like a fire burn, despite that I am yet to figure out what her space in my life actually signifies. The day we met, the day we compromised with our dreams to spend the rest of our lives together, the day we tied the knot, the day she made my penthouse our home, the day we cooked together to sate her idea of a happy marriage and yesterday, the day she questioned the need for our relationship.
Her question from yesterday is still ringing in my ears, fresh as the dew outside, not for its depth, but for the suddenness of it. Just as I started to imagine a life with her, she posed the one question that wreaked havoc in my heart. Why are we trying to make this work, Ranbir? If you have no belief in love and marriage, what’s the point of this, of us?
To be honest, her question was not invalid and in fact, it was an outright confession that our marriage was working or at least, it was work in progress. Nonetheless, her question stands as originally posed – what is the point of this, of us?
Had this been six months ago, I would have been impatiently tapping away to the call rings as I walked around my study, desperately muttering for Di to receive the line at the other end to listen to me vent, but this is not six months ago. This is today, a new reality which, as Di has been repeating, is a life I will need to figure out for myself. Holding that thought and determined to realise the “Okay” I casually fed to her at the end of our call ten minutes ago, I pushed myself out of the study, striding across the penthouse to our bedroom.
Anya and I, we need to talk.