I have never been in love. Being a man in his mid-forties, this fact doesn’t allure me any more. But at one point, it did. In my late twenties, when friends, acquaintances and colleagues were either finding love or looking frantically for it, I would gallantly declare it an utter waste of time. I’d advise them to instead find a means to realize their self-worth. And they would call me – yes, I vividly remember – a lunatic.
Love has meant nothing to me until recently, until I saw her. Her slender silhouette with a sheer, long, flowy scarf, hanging precariously over her shoulder is all that I’ve had a chance to witness in the darkness of night. Her face remains elusive, ruddy hair parted in the middle and fluttering on both sides even on a night devoid of wind. Strange, I thought initially. Not because of her unworldly appearance, but because of the iota of surging emotions within me.
It has become an irresistible habit to watch her stand, staring into the gloomy night, on her balcony right next to mine. The balcony is usually too sombre. So is her house. Not a scrap of light have I ever seen in the two-storey building. Silence is her companion, it seems. Or maybe she would say she finds solace in it, had I had a chance to ask her. But when I listen closely, much to my consternation, I hear muffled howls. And something tells me she didn’t choose this undecipherable silence. It’s the silence of our benumbed conscience that has chosen her in order to blanket the helpless yet revealing cry.
Indeed, I am a lunatic. A fantasist. In search of my self-worth in the darkest of places. Looking for light at the wee hours of night. And instead, what do I find? Irresistible…unsubdued…ineffable love. But, for whom? A woman emanated from the fantasies of my aging mind. She doesn’t exist.
Only the house does. And so do some rumors around its past. They say a man had tortured his wife for years, then murdered her brutally, buried her behind the walls and fled leaving this lofty abode behind. Some even say that the woman haunts the house in the darkness of night and would let no man inhabit it ever. And some say, all this is but futile tattle.
No, I haven’t seen her unsated spirit. Honestly, neither have I heard her cry. Sprawling on my divan in the balcony at midnight and staring into the hollowness around the marooned house, I only let my mind loose. And all it showed me was a plausible image of her. It let me hear her whispers, agony and unendurable pain. And who knows, maybe that’s where my self-worth lies – in hearing the pain of a hushed up soul? Who knows, maybe, just maybe she’d be born again with her lost faith in men rekindled?
Love is not a frenzy like people often think it is. It’s more about silences than the crescendo of weighty words. Listening to the muffled cry, unspoken words and held back emotions – that’s what love is to this lunatic soul.
Written by Chirasree Bose