Questioning

Part I

I sat awkwardly between two people on the train home. My shoulders tucked and my hands were resting on my knees. I longed to stretch my legs but before me were a herd of school children of whom I was afraid to look at, let alone to almost touch.

On my right was my fiancé of 9 months and one week. The wedding planning had recently become stagnant after we had disputed over every other detail. I imagined a small intimate wedding of perhaps 10 guests from each side in a converted barn with wooden tables, wholesome food and only to be lit by candlelight. He wanted 2 weddings – Hindu and Christian to represent both of our backgrounds, a party with an open bar and a stag do in Vegas of course.

It’s not that we can’t afford it. He’s a respected chef and I’m one of the chief editor at a major newspaper in London – the youngest editor, in fact, according to Reuters. His ideas of marriage were just different to mine. I already knew this, of course, as this was one of the topics which came up in conversation on our first date – or was it second? I can’t remember. Anyway, he had done some catering for some extravagant weddings during his teen years, which, I believe started his lifelong fantasy of seven-tiered multi-flavoured cakes, fireworks and the brides arrival in a helicopter (yes, he really suggested this).

We met at university, about 8 years ago now. He studied Law, presumably by ‘suggestion’ from his mother. I had only met her once, since she died just 3 weeks after her son graduated, but I presume she said something along the lines of:

‘Why don’t you get a degree and you can focus on your cooking after that’

A doctor herself, I always wondered what she must have thought after being told that her only son wanted to pursue a career as a restauranteur. I don’t know if she would have be proud, even today. I digress. 

My fiancé had put up a notice about wanting volunteers to taste test his new recipes. Of course, he was a complete stranger to me back then – much like everyone on campus, since I only left my dormitory to attend lectures. However, something sparked when I saw his notice and I found myself walking over to his dorm that afternoon. 

He lived in the building directly opposite to mine. It had a pool and a screening room. I remember, he smiled as he introduced himself to me as he met me on the ground floor. He was tall, had neatly trimmed hair, a prominent jawline and a growing stubble perhaps after three days on not shaving. He was wearing a white t-shirt which was carefully matched with the black jeans I saw underneath the apron that was wrapped around his waist.

‘Why did you go so early?’ I thought to myself. ‘He’s not even finished cooking yet’.

I don’t remember much from the conversation we had that evening, nor much of the meal but it was something along the lines of fried quail and sage butter. There was a glimpse in his eyes which oozed a certain charm that I cannot describe. I found myself returning to his kitchen every weekend before it became every day. He was my first ‘I love you’ and the first person I had ever truly embraced.

After graduating, we took our first holiday abroad to Vienna. We were on the famous ferris wheel when he asked me to move in with him – romantic, I know. You see, I was forced to move back in to my old bedroom in my parents’ home, since I had not yet gathered enough savings for a place of my own. My fiancé’s father, however, was the owner of a music label (the name of which I cannot disclose), and had gifted his son a car and a three bedroom apartment in London. 

I decided to move in 5 months after the funeral – it was best to give him some space at least. 

Over the years, we both established good portfolios in our chosen industries and eventually saved up enough to buy a house together in Hampstead Heath. Like traditions go, we went on a vacation just before the big move, and to my surprise he popped the big question:

“Tara, please make me the happiest man and do me the honour of becoming my wi- ”

‘Excuse me Madam, you’re sitting on my coat’ 

An angelic voice bought me out of my daydream. It was a woman on my left. 

Reflection

Read Part I – ‘Mirror, mirror’ here

Rashida Stone heard clatter when she was watching television one evening. 

The little one ran in. 

Cindy broke the mirror, she said with a smirk 

A rarity, Cindy getting into trouble. Something the little one longed for. 

Rashida shrieked. Her best friend had told her there was always a clumsy one.

She now knew who it was. 

‘Unbelievable’ she thought, the third one she’s ever broken 

is what she wishes she said.

Instead the words came out loud and sharp, something ever so unpleasing. You see, Rashida claimed she had never said a foul word until she had children. Now they were all she ever said.

Cindy cleaned. Rashida did not help, or even peak, and even refused to listen to what happened.

In her mind, she was always right – arrogance thrived her, pride became her warmth. 

There was a part of Rashida that softened for the likeness of her children; all except one. 

Cindy and Rashida bumped paths at the door of Cindy’s bedroom.

They had been avoiding each other all night, both for different reasons. 

Cindy cowered. Rashida screamed and screamed for no apparent reason. 

Was the mirror expensive? No. Was it of sentimental value? No. 

Then what exactly was the problem? Not even Rashida knew.

Cindy cried all night. Rashida could hear her from floor one.

She reflected on her action, her overreaction and wondered what she had done wrong.

Her daughters sadness prolonged into the night, and then Rashida knew.

This wasn’t the first time such thing had taken place. 

Cindy was sad. Sad for a long time and would be sad in years to come – she thought. 

Rashida opposed her daughter. The happiest of person but the narrowest of minds; her opinions came through the mouths of others, her thoughts stolen from the depths of minds. 

Rashida stayed up and thought about her overreaction. She admitted she was wrong. 

She reflected upon her attitude until the dull humming of Cindy’s weep disappeared. Cindy’s light switch clicked, and both mother and daughter fell asleep. 

Apologies.

In the morning, it seemed as if Cindy’s mother had forgotten about last nights debacle. 

She avoided her mother all day; Rashida wondered why.

They both moved on but Cindy never knew.

Never knew if she was truly forgiven for her crime. 

Mirror, Mirror

Seven years ago, seven years to go

I thought my mischance was gone,

But as I opened the door, you flung off the wall and become a bundle of messy shattered shards. 

Stunned, I was, as I tiptoed around you.

Where do I start, how to pick up the pieces?

It was the seventh day of my week. It was blissful until you cracked. 

I picked you up whilst your pieces scratched and bore into my vessels.

I profusely bled all over you. Emotionless face, motionless you. 

The little one told Mama. 

You fell on me before. Seven years ago.

Mama cleaned it up without hesitation. 

They said its not good for me and they said good luck. 

It took me seven years to realise, and in seven years I will realise

that your myths aren’t true at all. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

You saw me at my worst yet you never spilled my secrets.

I smiled at you everyday for you to envy my perfection. 

You bow down to me on the ground even though you’re broken. 

You couldn’t take me anymore, so you gave in. 

The brightest of suicides ever seen. 

Your deafness was for the best.

Screams, thunder, lorries, hurricanes, colliding plates with floor.

Soft, hysterical crying. 

Sounds you were oblivious to. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

I lifted you up and you crackled some more. 

I didn’t know you during your hay days

but now I know that I am nothing without you. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Look at me once more 

while I examine myself in your shrivelled body 

and endless blindness haunts you. 

Confronting an old friend

I recently met with a guy that I had dated for a while back when I was at school,  intending to ask him questions about the relationship we had. What I got from him was so personal that it made me reconsider everything about myself hence why I’ve been holding myself from writing this. This was 3 months ago:

It was a chaotic beginning to say the least. We had both arrived at opposite ends of the park and spent a good hour searching for each other. The butterflies were increasing by the minute as I checked my phone, only to receive a tonne of messages from him threatening to leave if I didn’t hurry up. I ignored them since I knew he wouldn’t have left until seeing me. I did find him, eventually, and he seemed to have calmed down from tone of his text messages, making me look like an idiot whilst I was profusely apologising to him. 

I felt safe under his presence, like I didn’t need to look after myself because I felt as if he was doing it for me. He was wearing his usual. Dark coloured jumper, jeans and the light-weight jacket with a sheen of lambency. I could’ve settled for the handshake but he went in for the hug. Just as well because the scent of his aftershave brought back moments of lust. Our relationship began during the school days. He says he noticed me in a maths class. One night, he finally plucked up the courage and messaged me with one of the most ridiculous pick up lines. Before this, I hadn’t even known of his existence. He told me he was drunk but I didn’t care, I liked him. I liked him because he noticed me. Nobody ever noticed me. As we walked under the bridges and along the emptying canals of East London, the sun was beginning to set but conversations only just beginning.

He told me how the failure of our relationship lay on faults of both of ours. Deep down, we both knew – know – that it was my fault. I continued to put him on a status above mine thinking he was far too good for me when the whole time, we were equal. Was it because he was white and that I belonged to an Asian minority? His confidence? Intelligence? Physique? All of this resulted to a feeling of anxiety and resentment in myself. He thought the relationship failed because of communication but really I had trouble communicating with myself. My mind, constantly competing with his gestures. He’s out with his friends today. Why aren’t I out with mine? Oh that’s right, I don’t have any. But he couldn’t know that. I put myself forward as an optimistic conversationalist which knowledge of politics and a tongue of witty sarcasm. He thought of me as a family girl, a vocal in the church choir, a giver. Really, I am all of those. But I failed with him. I gave him the right key to my heart but changed the locks just as he approached it. I was lost, broken, unfixable. All this I was realising during our meeting, all this he was completely oblivious to. All this he is still unaware of.