I. To my parents
I look at my parents in twilight, their profiles silhouetted against the pastel sky. Overhead, the spring breeze ruffles the new leaves at the top of our persimmon tree. They glance up, and call out to my sisters that the wind has started and it was time to zip up their jackets.
I want to say, ‘zip up yours too. Don’t be cold.’ But the words are lodged in my cords. I go back home and make two cups of tea. One black, one white with no sugar and lay it on the steps. I sit with them, and we muse about a future as perceptible as the boundaries blurring in the horizon.
At night, when the shouting has died down to quiet murmurs and snores. I hold my mother’s hands in mine, I feel her shoulders and her calves and arms. When was it, that my fingers met more bone than solid flesh. When did the circles creep under her eyes and age had inscribed its mark in the slight bend of her spine. I am reminded of our trips to the market, and how she always walk a few steps behind me. And I, am always ahead waiting. As she had done, for so many years.
When you went to the hospital, and the nurse drew blood again and again. And I saw the skin on your hand pucker up as droplets of blood slid down your wrist, I saw your hidden flinches and the flash of pain in your iris. And I wanted to say, ‘I’m here’.’ To hold your hand.
I wanted to say, ‘I love you.’
But I can only turn my head to hide, the tears that run down my face, burning and blurring my vision.
II. To [name redacted]
You made no impression on me when we first met. That was how ordinary it was, but who would have predicted that 365 many days later. It was anything but that.
But, I will always associate you, with 3 o’clock sunshine and half-opened Snakes packets.
With Wednesday morning lateness.
The smell of coffee [not freshly grounded] but sourced from god knows where.
‘It’s over you tell me.’ With a wave of the hand, as if two years of memories could be dismissed with the simple motion of the wrist.
I want to tell you, ‘it’s impossible.’
But I can only linger behind when the schoolyard is quiet, lay on the grass (the part that is covered by the tall trees of an indescribable species) and think of the ways I could tell you but cannot. The sky is always blue on these days, a cloudless, postcard blue that aches to be written on. And my words are carried by the wind, blown to a one-way street named ‘Heart’.
When October approached and the sunshine fades from lemon-gold to maple. When morning lateness is replaced with weary sighs and squeaks on the whiteboard. You looked just as ragged as the worn edges of my exam folder, and I tell you to rest. But both knowing that rest is not an option.
Then it passes, in blurs too quick to be etched into a memory. Only a vague replica of what took place.
I did tell you ‘thank you’ in the end, and maybe that was enough, for you to understand all that you had encompassed, come to mean to me. To show you street lights that lit up the path to ‘Heart’ street.
And maybe it was not, just as no paint can capture the luminance of a star, no words can capture the intimacy of sentiments.