It was a quiet October day. Afternoon. Jhili gathered her clothes from the top racks of the almirah into an air bag that she had bought on her way back from college. The spare pair of good sandals was wrapped up in newspaper and put in a polythene bag. There still remained another pair in the shoe stand which she wore no more. But she would rather leave it behind. Jhili wondered what would happen to anything she left behind. Nobody would have any fond memory of her anyway. She took some photo albums, some trinkets, a few books and pushed everything into that airbag. She didn't want to arouse the suspicion of the neighbors by carrying anymore luggage than one bag. She held her breath, but sweat oozed from her temples anyway. Her fingers and toes, shivered probably. In that hurry, she couldn't be sure. She had to walk down to the defunct marketplace where he would pick her up. Jhili always felt that her name had lost a second word. She could have have been Jhilmil, something that always shines. But she wasn't.
This was one tough call. Choosing to quit college in the prefinal year. Choosing to get married to a man who her father would never approve of. Choosing to leave all the gold jewelry her mother had had gotten made for her. They had wrecked her mind. Her soul had wailed for nights. She had suffered claustrophobic dreams and woken up screaming.
Somehow, among all this, longing for love felt like a solution. Like a closure to a rusty phase of life. Like the beginning of something she had long awaited, without knowing what it was that she was waiting for. It felt like a gamble, at times. But when all your hopes are bottled in one pot, you would rather uncork it. So she did.
Jhili stepped down the stairs. Suddenly her heels felt louder than ever in the time of sleepy siesta. She left the keys with the security guard downstairs, and left. Forever. Left no letter and walked to the defunct marketplace, where he would be waiting.
Nostomania: an irresistible temptation to return home
You remember that inward facing pizza place? That bulky middle aged lady who baked in a closed room, that circular cafe of hers. Cirle like. Vague smoky, at cross roads, near the bus stop. Most of the times I got down, I sat down there, looking at the walls.
Do you remember the onset of winter? How only a faint sun showed up and how the boughs of trees seemed to sink lower, shrouding me in a canopy when I walked. Turning wherever the road turned, walking back wherever the road ended.
Also that faint whistling noise that the night made, when I wouldn't find sleep. For hours, waiting until dawn. Forging poems and prose with the clay of unrequited love.
When I walked about, one shop to another. Walking in strange towns. Picking vases, tasting pickle, looking at the faces of men and women, totally lost in myself. I might as well be dead to the world.
Left a chance, I would cut out from the canvas of those moments from the past in the shape of a man, and put you in there. And I would never be alone again, ever in my life.
Do you remember? That Saturday morning. I was busy making noodles in the kitchen. You were watching the match. You were nostalgic, it was your favorite guy's farewell match. So much so that I was checking on you every five minutes. Sitting on the arm of your chair, as the vegetables waited back on the kitchen slab. I do, remember I do. Even though, I am not a woman of memories.
Sometimes, I feel that as an act of defiance, my brain doesn't save up on memories. But then again, that's a childish excuse. May be I am just plain lazy. Lazy to remember anything. Or, I have begun to truly let go. Life is beautiful, take it as it comes. And stuff like that. But mostly, I am afraid, I believe. That these memories would come back to torment me someday. And then, I wouldn't know what to do.
So I am losing track of the things that are happening. Sundays that pass, weeks that vanish. Months, unaccounted for. Not an inch of forward movement, lifewise. Layers after layers of facial scrub applied and removed, nail paint and hair packs. Shoes, unbuckled. Dresses held together with safety pins, earrings bought and abandoned. Books read in half sleep, as good as unread, untouched. Things unsaid, memories unkept.
Sometimes, I feel that I am aging decades in months. That's impossible, I know. But I do feel that way. And I cannot judge if it's a good or a bad thing.
Is it okay to feel nothing? Murakami says it is. The protagonists that are a reflection of his, say so. I feel nothing. No ambition, no affection, no will to be anywhere, do anything, fulfill anything. I feel blank. Deeply ambivalent about everything. I feel inert, to be exact. Distant. Lazy, yes. Unhinged, but grounded in a way. But more than that, I feel nothing. Murakami says, thats okay.
So, it's okay.