The city was lit bright, this time by the 4th of July fireworks, red, green and fiery orange. The upside-down rock must be dark this night too, it must’ve been damp just like last time, a chilly breeze must’ve flown over it. But I will never know again because I will never go there again.
And as I lay curled on the gravel, weeping, I didn’t have my Buddha to hold on to, or him.
And I knew that even if I never knew it, or saw it, somewhere, on some hill top, in a dishevelled bed in some dark room; his soul was curled up crying too. I wanted him to have the Buddha so he could lie down like the Vitruvian Man and rub the Buddha between his thumb and index, till the sobs ceased, and at the end it all became okay.
The “firangs” who went to India to “find themselves”, thought they were relieving the white man’s burden by tramping all over the developing world, saying, “Tell me what you need and I will make it for you!” And wala! All your problems will be solved…oh wait…maybe not, because I don’t know anything about you, really. But what the hell, I can still go back to America and tell stories of how I saved the “third world”! So works out great for me!
We had made fun of such people together. And today when you are steering towards being one of those, I had to show you where you were headed. But you sat there on your high swivel chair, and announced that I was really using this as an excuse to talk about our fucked up relationship. With one sweep of your hand you wiped out the entire core of my existence, “I doubt that you know what you want.”
Turns out my friends had known it all along, “You drop in on a plane, you meet this guy; you don’t know anything about Americans or American culture. To him you were an exotic experience! You actually thought he was going to give up his life and travel across India with you? Get real!” (Don’t friends always say that once you break up? “I knew he wasn’t the right guy for you!” Then why don’t you tell me when I am headed towards disaster, rather than save it till I am devastated?).
Well, you found another “exotic experience” and you are giving up your life to “travel across India”. At least about that I had been right. Everything else…I don’t know how I could’ve been so wrong about? How can the same man who, before he made any dessert, would make me close my eyes and taste raw dessert batter and ask me to guess what it was (lemon tart…chocolate mousse….cookie dough), how can the same man watch me curled up howling on the road and not hold me? You are not the same man who drove to the library to find a Hindi phrase book so you could speak to me in my language, not now, not anymore, now that you want to travel that land with a translator. How can the same man who told me he respects me for the work I do, turn around and tell me that he doubts I know what I want, think me incapable of having a conversation beyond our relationship?
You are not him. I gave your wisdom for your birthday but you grew no wiser. And now I will take my Buddha back because I need to lie down, my arms and legs stretched out, clutching my Buddha in my palms, rubbing it between my thumb and index finger, until my sobs cease and the end comes and it is all okay.
(photograph copyrighted to Arya Dutta)