Short Fiction ~ Muddasir Ramzan
In the darkness of one’s heart, where one filters all the unresolved tiers one encounters in life, I found a letter, with no address on it, waiting to be posted and yet preventing itself from being shared. This internal battle — to allow this voice to reach out, or to silence it inside — readily absorbs its nuances:
Every time I’ve had the impression that I’ve been useful in letting your presence out of my soul, you visit me in my dreams. Why so? — This keeps me engaged. When you’ve made me realise, over and over again, that you are not feeling the same way you made me feel for you when we were unruffled. I keep on deliberating: were you not involved the way you wanted me to be? As it came out, there was a deafening silence from both of us. That silence was filled with anger. Or, was it petulance, and disappointment first?
As I remember, deliberations were often slow and cumbersome, so our meetings were not particularly thrilling. And yet I looked forward to them. I guess you were angry that I was toying with you, and alarmed as well. That was the seed – maybe you only wanted me to imagine so – when you decided to withdraw how I felt for you and how you felt for me, and how we felt together. Or, was it that you'd finally realised that we could never be one?
Was it so? — I think yes, otherwise how could you let me stay away from you for this long? I remember all your efforts to bring me back to your world when I had pretended to leave you; also, when you had understood your wrongdoings and corrupt dealings when we had a fight. Those nights when you contacted me, and I assured myself to stay hard, that I didn't have to answer you: your frequent calls and texts, saying, ‘I'm dying to hear your voice again.' Because I felt, and felt it right, that you'd be doing the same things again. You would play like an observer, delve into small annotations in which you would conclude how alienated I made you feel, would accuse me of deriving sadistic pleasures out of your longing for me, and underestimate the situations we were in – the conditions of our homeland as well as the differences of our families. I was not so sure of myself that I would be so spirited in letting you long more, without reciprocating my feelings.
Admittedly, I had not felt so strongly for anyone as I had felt for you in the moments of those first meetings when you had felt most strongly for me. I feel guilty for my intense urge for someone who doesn’t feel the same for me anymore. How did it happen? At first, I did not know if these gaps that had been widening were mostly my doing or yours. As time passed, it became clear that it was you, most of the time, who did wrong, you identified it, and we accepted it. But how long could saying sorry balm the wound?! You know when you showed up on my previous birthday, something about your expressions— lowering your eyes, frequently, passionless embraces, new anxieties — left me in little doubt of the truth. Which, later, you proved that this little doubt rose up in fumes when you didn’t even wish me on this birthday. I was both panicked and relieved.
‘Hold on, I never think of my existence without you; you are my pride, everything of my existence.' Was this you in my dream tonight? — Or, was it the sensation of your memories? — Or, was it just the spirit of those scenes when you poured out these words?! Whatever. These dreams made me think again about our love, our promises, even when I know, it is impossible to have us back the way we were — living our dream. And even in the dreams, I could feel your absence in your presence: more so, on opening my eyes, I recognised you were not around.
Don’t think that I have over-looked your wrongdoings, your hurts — which always ran parallel with your love. I cannot overcome them, even if I want to. Because they’ve filled a corner of the space in which your lack keeps haunting me. Sometimes when I think about it, I conclude maybe you were never involved the way you were behaving. But then, how could you surrender yourself entirely for me if you were not really in love? It is what is troubling me, like a dead man who is posturing in the mind of the killer. I did not kill you though, even at some point I wanted to kill your presence and strained hard for it when I felt that you did let go of your feelings for me, or pretended to. Even your pretending not to love was troubling me. I think you were checking on me, examining the deepness of my love for you. And, you would keenly observe how I react to the news that you’ve some other friend. But your testing was bothering me, I was clear about the fact that if you're doing it to test me, then there is some percentage of doubt in your trust over me, and if you don't trust me entirely, you'll not be faithful to me. Yes, out of anger and disappointment, I wanted to leave you for forever, I had made it the essential part of my New Year to-do-list, which you knew when I saw the fire of your love dwindling.
Of course, I was happy, very much, whenever we were together. I could see the joy and pride of having me in your eyes, too. But then we realised our mismatch. I understood it and bluntly told you so. But what did you do? — Instead of stopping me, you favoured your ego: I could see that you didn’t want to assume that you were rejected by a person whom you trusted as your abode for peace, your alter-ego, the one whom you could count on, who was always there for you. But love is not any game, and you can neither win, and neither lose. I should have seen your self-absorption at the very onset of our relationship [if it was that], which — of course — I’d felt, but then my thoughts were more absorbed with the wealth we had explored together. I knew what was troubling you: that breaking my heart would make you restless. But then, first love haunts a person for forever: you’ll always compare your new lover(s) with me, I assure you that you’ll never find me in them.
But both of us, I guess, know that our pretending to be hard and uncaring will melt soon if and when our eyes meet again, like the exposure of the sun on meeting the hard-pretending snow, solidified by the cold nights. The fact is there, the truth is there, and so is the love. It’s us who are nowhere, which is how our nostalgia is born.
Muddasir Ramzan is a young writer from Kashmir, India. He regularly contributes blogs to the Muslim Institute, London. His short stories, flash fiction, poems, reviews, and interview have appeared in various international journals, including the Kindle Magazine (India), Kitaab (Singapore), and the Critical Muslim (UK). He is a doctoral student at the Aligarh Muslim University (Department of English). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.