Thursday, February 11

Lessons

I NEED NEW ROMANCE films to watch. All those I have watched previously are stained with certain memories, various memories, distorted and exaggerated sadnesses, multiple heartbreaks. ‘I’m watching The Apartment,’ she said—‘You’d love it. Set in New York. Gorgeous grade black and white film. It’s witty, melancholic, kind of sexy. And old school. A good old-fashioned romance.’ Despite what any drunk girl might say, I do have a romantic side, a division of me festering in sentimentality, lust and affection. I find it easier prohibiting romance from occupying too much of my day-to-day life. There is less damage to cause to one’s self that way.
The break-up was talked about quietly, despite only the three of us in the house. There was a radio playing, too, but those airwaves had no opinions either way. My mother had informed me of the break-up the evening prior, and I was honestly upset because the female party – no relation of mine – earned from me a fondness and comfort I found in few others. Certainly many people found her exceptionally easy to talk to, my brother included. She had a manner that drove you to open up, whether you wanted to or not. My ex had liked her very much. The two of them got on well. When my ex and I separated, the lady was visibly upset for me; not forced or polite, but genuine. She asked me—‘No chance of you getting back together?’ ‘Nah.’ ‘That’s a shame.’ ‘It is.’
T—y her name is. T—y her name was. It is still her name, but she is elsewhere. Let me tell you, she and my uncle were together for four years after the disintegration of his marriage. It was a particularly bad divorce, and he, still in love with his ex-wife, found it hard to plant love elsewhere. This lady – T—y her name was – deserved his love – as I, and many others, saw it – but he was crippled by a broken heart. That happens a lot these days. In four years he never apologised to her, her never said—‘I love you.’
‘I love you’ was a sentence I could not have said enough the first time I realised I meant it. I could have said it a million times. It was the truest sentence in the world to me. Anyway, he never said—‘I love you.’ T—y could not handle that anymore and, having uprooted her family for him, she ended the relationship.
It was a Sunday afternoon when my mother, my aunt and I were discussing the break-up. Actually I was not discussing it, but sat at my aunt’s counter with a beer, listening to the two sisters discussing it. The beer was not very cold. Outside the wind blew like uprooting trees and unsettled roof tiles, and I wiped my finger around a plate of hummus, licking it every now & then.
Anticipating the arrival of my uncle, I was sure not to mention the break-up, as such things are unpleasant and unsettling.
However, upon his appearance, he revealed himself to be immaculately settled! What was the secret to his wellbeing? Of course there is the macho fa├žade, the lies men are liable to tell, the nonsense they keep bottled up like spiders in a jar. He genuinely seemed decent, as though he had even fallen in love that very day, such was his spirit! I think of how I was after my ex broke up with me; weakened, distraught, silent, heartbroken! Here was someone giving me lessons in unfeeling. From the quiet corner of the room, clutching a drink, I observed him and took notes. I thought of T—y alone, holding the last straw, and him here all happy and normal. How was he when he got into bed at night? There are things you have no choice but to do alone and there are things you are lucky enough to do with someone you love. I wondered how he was getting into bed at night.
T—y was a keen dancer and lover of music. After the break-up she had spoken to my mother, whom she told—‘I always had dreams of us retiring and living in your home, dancing, getting down and never being able to get up.’ My mother read the text aloud, over and over, her voice cracking each time.


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