He asks me why I always write about pain and everything sad. I look at him and see the world staring back; a question mark in the curve of his lips. “It’s not supposed to be there,” I say.
I am used to seeing his lips curve up in a smile every time he looks at me. But lately, I have seen him looking at me intently as if trying to find answers to questions that have been nagging him.
But my dear, you’re searching for them in the wrong place.
For there are some people who come with an instruction manual – they know what they like and what they don’t. Ask them what makes them happy and what makes them mad and hear them rave about their lives. They have a list of 101 things to do before they die. They breathe passion.
And there are the ones who don’t need a manual at all. They bring in sunshine even on gloomy, cloudy days. They are the kindred spirits people look at and reaffirm their belief in goodness. Like the roommate who sat next to you, stroking your hair as you cried into your pillow on your first day away from home. The school watchman who smiled at you everyday on grumpy mornings despite of his own grumpy job. The kid who drew a feather on your arm above the scar the previous night left behind.
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And you, the boy who ran with me in the rain. Remember, we were both soaking wet when we climbed up the tank. I laughed at you when you said you were afraid of heights. I don’t think you realised it then or even now that I was the wrong person to say such things to.
Because I am the next kind.
The kind who laughs when it hurts too much. You ask me why do I carry around pain? Here’s a story: There was once a boy who held my hand right where I had cut the night before. He burrowed his nails into the scar that was bleeding still and told me I looked beautiful like that. That the pain in my eyes masked the plainness.
He wasn’t entirely truthful though. Because he, like everyone else, looked for burning red hot fire in my eyes and was disappointed when he didn’t find it. If he had stayed a while longer he would have felt the cold fire burning within me.
I remember that day when you pulled away from a kiss to ask me why my hands are always cold and my mouth so warm. I smiled and simply kissed you back harder. And that’s my other forte, the way I can make you forget things by kissing.
I can now see all the questions rushing back. All the ones I tried to push away.
I saw them coming back long before. Before they even sprang up in your head. For questions always come back looking for me even though they know I hold no answers. I can handle them they know. I am a sucker for questions that carry no answers but many people get frustrated with them. People like to know. They like to find solutions to problems that are too beautiful to be solved and get rid off.
I like to keep them unanswered.
I am afraid of question marks now. For they demand something I don’t have. I have started fearing you now.
Because as I said before, your smile has started to look like a question mark.
Vaishnavi Prasad is a girl healing one poem at a time.
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