by Sai Roopa

I look at you with curiosity, filling the eyes. They called me inquisitive, back in childhood. I live up to the name even today. I could never bring myself to fully believe that I know you. I’d admit that I don’t know you while you’d agree. You would’ve said the same about me and we’d laugh.

You sit there, unaware of the extent of my thoughts about you. It was better that way, else you would never tell me anything if you knew that I’ve wept at your trauma, laughed at your tiny moments of joy, and have been crippled with this unbearable pain that tugged my heart, long before I realized it was love.

Painting interpretation of Rukmini’s dilemma for Shared Consciousness Project. The author wishes to express the unspoken side of Rukmini’s story of the celebrated Radha-Krishna love, portraying her as a normal human, with pangs of love for Krishna.

I remember how we talked first, shocked to have found the other in an odd place such as this material world. Yet, both agreed fate is mysterious; I felt secrets from my deepest place pouring out without much effort. Nothing about you struck as extraordinary, just a man-child, mischievous and frolicking in his youth except for the eyes. You manage to hide emotions from everywhere and everyone but your eyes scream the truth. They were sad, so sad like you have a buried chest of secrets somewhere beneath them.

I was drawn to you, like a moth to a flame. We talked and talked, and this lonely heart was alive for a while. It beat with full rhythm, made this soul forget her vows of staying spiritual. It made her soar above the world and managed a smile even during the darkest hours. Then, her heart howled in pain, loud and wrenchingly, as though it was wounded brutally. As though it has been plucked and stabbed a million times.

I twisted and turned, unable to understand why the pain. I was in love, it should be beautiful and empowering. Alas! It brought me to my knees and I still smiled. I bruised from falling and I didn’t realize that falling doesn’t kill, the landing does. I landed so hard when I comprehended he was never mine, he will never be. He belonged to someone else and she had left a mark. Was it love or was it a battle scar, I dare not ask, for you’d stiffen up and wait for the first opportunity to divert the question.

I wonder from time to time, from all your stories and harsh realities, if she left a void in you. You never spoke about how it made you feel, other than laying out the facts, concluding each anecdote in less than two sentences. I muse on my emotions over why it hurt not knowing when I am a woman who respects boundaries. Maybe it’s love or maybe it’s sheer insecurity on being called the closest yet not close enough to know you.

You frown at me and shake me out of my reverie. “You okay?” you nudge, as you drop a kiss on my forehead. “Yeah,” I conceal my dilemma as I smile, straightening up. “Lie all you want, you can’t hide those sad eyes.” You pat the top of my head.

I look in the mirror. The eyes seem familiar, almost like I have seen them before. Your eyes met mine when I realized, I had loved and lost.

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