A Handbook on Loving a ShapeShifter

It is not simple to love
Even if it’s just one.
For One cries and loves and breathes and laughs and hates.
We make the mistake of thinking it is easy
To love One, once its face is known.

We familiarise ourselves with its eyes,
the shape of its mouth, the browns and reds of its skin and hair.
We count its moles and
Imprint the pattern of their torrential hairs.
If only it were that simple.
We forget
To love One is to love its multiples.
It dies and rebirths
Dies, reborn, then dies
And then born, once again.
All before we knew the particular browns and reds of its skin.

We forget the secret stories of its eyes,
forgetting to measure the count of deaths before the mouth finally shaped into the one we recognise.
We forget we traced circles that change circumferences.
We measure once and stuff it inside secret drawers.
Hoping, meanwhile, it doesn’t die and birth again.

Until it’s too late.
Then we watch its knees drop as it falls, cracking its nose, gushing, bleeding until its new skin is born, redder than it had ever been.
We watch as it comes back alive, and we cannot choose to forget.

Apoorva Chopra is currently pursuing her MA at the University of Hyderabad and loves to consume stories in all shapes and forms.