What do you do when you have never met someone but you love them so much that a tiny little absence from them upsets your soul and makes negative thoughts spin around your head? You know it’s foolish to wait on them because either they are asleep jet-lagged by the time difference or drained by the efforts spent in talking with you but you cannot rest until you know they are safe. You have never seen them but you wish you could hold them when the triggers seized them from all sides, so they could turn a blind eye to all the gathering evil and bury their head in your lap while you hummed a tune from your native land, strange to their ears, and the mysterious sounds filter into their blood calming their spirit and miming the edges of the addiction. Maybe you could clutch their sweaty palms, clammed up with anxiety and a mad urge to let go but for you who won’t allow it lest they slip and don’t return. What do you do when all you are good at is scribbling a few words on a plastic screen with neon lights and sing a little off-tune, the anxiety within you beating you off-track, distracting your mind, and you wish there was a fantasy telephone booth to teleport you right next to them. Oh, how the distance hurts and tears and rips apart your lonesome mind, how the buzz-less phone screams of despair and the silence wails through your empty hands, fingers, like winds whistling in the abandoned shacks just before a storm. You want to reach out to them, offer solace, company, love, understanding, whatever would bring them energy to react, to do something other than being numb. But the miles in between the two of you keep you painfully separate and distinct, time plays with your fate as you once again fall asleep, tired, swollen eyes, into a restless fitful slumber during their desperate hours, only to wake up when it’s perhaps a bit too late. Terrified, you missed the train they were leaving on.

lapses in memory

My memory keeps fading like a tissue paper with a single drop of water that falls on it and spreads, keeps spreading. A blot of damp, darkened tissue paper. I forget names of people, birthdays, when Ramadan ends, where is Ahmedabad, which professor taught us which optional course, what movie I have seen last, what did I do in school, what was my breakfast day before yesterday… They blend into each other and become inseparable, like watercolour, bleeding into one another space, confusing boundaries, unrestrained. If anyone asks me whether I have heard this song, I nod yes, yes I can recall it, and then I open google on the sly, putting in the strange name that feels only ever so slightly familiar as it rolls off my tongue. Have I really heard this song before? I take the sandwich from the shopkeeper and smile thanks, nice man, always jovial, greets me every morning, on work days this is where I get my breakfast, we do small talk sometimes, his mother loves old jazz and so we would listen to Coltrane when the morning crowds have just dwindled or died out and he would tap his fingers to the beat. She liked his easy going personality, what was his name again? “You could have just remembered to wish me at night at least, you know, I waited for you the whole day.” Guilt, shame, but most of all regret washed over me. If only I hadn’t removed the alarm reminder set up to call her, this could have been avoided. I was so confident I would make it. That night, the next, the next ones even years from then. I always thought I would make it, and didn’t. In the end, the water drop on the tissue paper is botched out, a finger probes the damp spot and it tears, bits of threads of tissue fibre float in the air. It’s less of a tissue now and more just white crumbs drifting in the thin air like cotton dust blown away.