(小)

a short story

They approached her apprehensively, handling her fingers like a newborn fledgling. Her hands felt agreeable to their touch. It was the first time they held each other like this. They had worried for a while about the compatibility. No, not the personality one. That was a given. How could anyone bother being around someone whose presence did not provoke a sense of joy? Well, Xiao had thought that people have been married for less. Financial stability and alimony was incentive enough for some. The existence of prenups were indicative of that. Hell, the couples they grew up around seemed empty of romance. Perhaps that was why they had craved for it so desperately. The movie-kind of love, with an official soundtrack and montages, with grand gestures and a perpetual honeymoon period. I could do it, they thought.

No, the compatibility they were worried about had been the hand-holding kind. Whether her height and arm-length could comfortably fit theirs, rather than have someone’s elbows sag or cramp up due to physical dimensions. If they could easily saunter about the wet damp streets on a moonlit evening for hours, still clasping.

It had only been the first week since they had finally acknowledged their mutual attraction to each other. While it had appeared for her very recently, it had always been on their mind. There was an inkling of the idea when they had first seen her.

It had come with the thought: “I want to know what cereal you eat in the morning.” That was always how they knew when someone would become special to them.

Xiao had always thought of the idea of “friend-zones”- they imagined it was the best place to be! Doesn’t the purest of love surpass that of romantic approval? They would often hear male friends complain of this wretched area- their efforts to befriend a lady thwarted by their inevitable lack of interest in being “more than friends’. They would scold them, saying how communication isn’t so difficult. It is not impossible to convey a message, especially to someone you’re supposed to care about. If the whole objective was to doink, why couldn’t they just go on Tinder? Of course not! I want my sex to have feelings, they would claim. But what is making love without actual love? Who in the right mind would want to kiss someone who did not want to kiss them back? It seemed to simple. Love confessions were never easy, and depending on the delivery, could be seen as rather creepy…but at least it makes things honest. And honesty was important for any dynamic.

Rejection was recurrent in their life, but never once had it affected the way they felt for their beloveds. Great crushes usually turned into life-long friendships, sprinkled with inspiration inducing moments, enough to make even the most obvious and painful truths bearable. They just wanted whatever love they could find to be meaningful.

Wasn’t it already?

They strolled around the park for the first time as a couple- she was shy for having dated someone like them for the first time. What kind of person that was, they would never exactly find out, but they didn’t dare question it. All that matter was that they were there, for the time being, keeping each other warm.

There was nothing better than this, they had thought. A superior definition of togetherness. The knowledge of a prolonged and passionate companionship, whose participants would decide what to eat for dinner, brush teeth, go to bed, and wake up from dreams, still facing each other. Xiao had never understood why the ultimate achievement was “sex”. Why that was what a “home run” meant. They had tried it and then proceeded to avoid it. It was just an anxiety inducing mess.

It was such a suggestive word. An activity that society and advertisements had focused so much attention on. They knew it meant “seven” in Swedish, and that it was necessary for procreation. That it was what their parents were doing that one late night when they were 7 years old and couldn’t sleep. It was the topic of their fellow peers at school whenever anyone did anything remotely raunchy, despite everyone’s prepubescent awkwardness. It was a badge of honour, you know. Bumping uglies. They would wonder what their new lover’s opinion would be. They were slightly afraid. Would they leave me for another, more willing partner? Did they, themselves. crave it as much as everyone else seemed to?

Only time would tell. But for now, they would enjoy the company of their dear one. The smoothness of their fingertips. Their hands felt as if they were about to develop frostbite, but it was worth it, getting to know the texture of her palms.

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Poem of the Day: Two Loves (1894) by Lord Alfred Douglas

Reprinted from The Chameleon, December 1894. See highlighted lines.

I dreamed I stood upon a little hill,
And at my feet there lay a ground, that seemed
Like a waste garden, flowering at its will
With buds and blossoms. There were pools that dreamed
Black and unruffled; there were white lilies
A few, and crocuses, and violets
Purple or pale, snake-like fritillaries
Scarce seen for the rank grass, and through green nets
Blue eyes of shy peryenche winked in the sun.
And there were curious flowers, before unknown,
Flowers that were stained with moonlight, or with shades
Of Nature’s willful moods; and here a one
That had drunk in the transitory tone
Of one brief moment in a sunset; blades
Of grass that in an hundred springs had been
Slowly but exquisitely nurtured by the stars,
And watered with the scented dew long cupped
In lilies, that for rays of sun had seen
Only God’s glory, for never a sunrise mars
The luminous air of Heaven. Beyond, abrupt,
A grey stone wall. o’ergrown with velvet moss
Uprose; and gazing I stood long, all mazed
To see a place so strange, so sweet, so fair.
And as I stood and marvelled, lo! across
The garden came a youth; one hand he raised
To shield him from the sun, his wind-tossed hair
Was twined with flowers, and in his hand he bore
A purple bunch of bursting grapes, his eyes
Were clear as crystal, naked all was he,
White as the snow on pathless mountains frore,
Red were his lips as red wine-spilith that dyes
A marble floor, his brow chalcedony.
And he came near me, with his lips uncurled
And kind, and caught my hand and kissed my mouth,
And gave me grapes to eat, and said, ‘Sweet friend,
Come I will show thee shadows of the world
And images of life. See from the South
Comes the pale pageant that hath never an end.’
And lo! within the garden of my dream
I saw two walking on a shining plain
Of golden light. The one did joyous seem
And fair and blooming, and a sweet refrain
Came from his lips; he sang of pretty maids
And joyous love of comely girl and boy,
His eyes were bright, and ‘mid the dancing blades
Of golden grass his feet did trip for joy;
And in his hand he held an ivory lute
With strings of gold that were as maidens’ hair,
And sang with voice as tuneful as a flute,
And round his neck three chains of roses were.
But he that was his comrade walked aside;
He was full sad and sweet, and his large eyes
Were strange with wondrous brightness, staring wide
With gazing; and he sighed with many sighs
That moved me, and his cheeks were wan and white
Like pallid lilies, and his lips were red
Like poppies, and his hands he clenched tight,
And yet again unclenched, and his head
Was wreathed with moon-flowers pale as lips of death.
A purple robe he wore, o’erwrought in gold
With the device of a great snake, whose breath
Was fiery flame: which when I did behold
I fell a-weeping, and I cried, ‘Sweet youth,
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove
These pleasent realms? I pray thee speak me sooth
What is thy name?’ He said, ‘My name is Love.’
Then straight the first did turn himself to me
And cried, ‘He lieth, for his name is Shame,
But I am Love, and I was wont to be
Alone in this fair garden, till he came
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.’
Then sighing, said the other, ‘Have thy will,
I am the love that dare not speak its name.’

The Greatest

Are you my greatest love?
My love,
How can I know if you are?

How can I ascertain in the stars
That a latent kiss does not linger
On someone else’s lips

Despite the boundless skies
I am confined within your headspace

Yet I am happy to,
I am willing to,-
I sacrifice this
For your grace.

But how can I prove that you
Will not do as the other lovers do?

I anticipate the deception
As much as the pain
and gloom.

Or have I already had this love,
Have already lost
The best of the best?

These thoughts often plague my mind
With sadness and regret.

My love,
You have my trust now,
And I hope you do not let it die.

To leave me
Once again, on my knees
Pleading to god,
“Oh why?”

To take away my joy
With a block of text
In the blink of a shifty eye.

You are my greatest love
I want to say,
But I wonder
How many tears I will cry

When you go onwards
Having broken my soul,
Having said
our final goodbyes.

I do not mean to

​I do not mean to pry, my dear,
But soothe this bitter longing
For reasons I can justify
And muse the songs I’m dawning

I do not mean to cry, my dear
But choose your answers wisely.
For I am brittle in your gaze
And end the night in sighing

In mornings I’m abiding
So passions will start weaning
Which currently are beaming
As slight teardrops, they are streaming

I do not mean to lie, my dear
But how can I confess…
The topic of my mind is you-
Praying,
To love you less.

dinner

nascent beginnings
adjacent living
complacent sitting there,
imagining if you are eating dinner
and why i can’t be the spoon
or the napkin
watching over you-

why am i not
placed across you
surveying your face
every time you look down
for another bite of food-

no,
i cannot think like this
creepily drown myself
in obsessive thoughts like these.

ridiculous in their size and creed,
fantasising how
you feed yourself-

i have barely seen you exist.

but then i still concern for your
5-a-day
and whether you’ve had enough greens
today,
the way you take your coffee or tea
maybe two sugars or black,
or milky…

oh,
romantic child,

you are useless.

just in case

In case I die
These are all the words
that I want to say to you,
but I won’t because
it’s not the right time.

When it is the right time,
I want you to read them
and remember how much
Just one person thought of you
In this life that I have lived,
And it has been
a beautiful one:

I love you.

I love you with the greatest compassion.
I look at you and think of the million moments shared,
Eating
Laughing
Watching movies that made our hearts twist and turn,
Lying in bed
Dreaming
Thinking of the future
Reflecting on the past
And how thankful I am
To have been a part of your journey
Developing slowly
All the struggles and discoveries

I look at you and recall
Every wonderful moment
Every painful pang
Every mundane and exciting time
That allows me to reminisce
That allows me to confess
How lucky I am to have met you
All of you
Everyone I have seen
And hugged
To become
a part of my heart.

I have tried to remind those close to me
How precious they are
And I will tell them time after time…
You are loved.

How you are loved!

How I love you
Exceeds the limits,
Is boundless as the sky we gaze into
During the loneliest nights
And the exhausting mornings –
Surpassing perception
So that it may only be an intangible amount
Because it is immeasurable by the literal.

Unimaginable,
Regardless of all the gifts
All the shoulders to cry on
All the food cooked
And all the clothes I’ve put on you
To keep you fed and warm.

All of the gatherings
Where the only mission was to pass the hours together

All the reunions
Whether the gaps are hours or years
Whether the distance is a few miles or thousands

All the lovely eyes that I’ve peered into and felt safety and empathy,
Kinship and friendship
Romance and adoration
Coated by the affection
I hope I have adequately given.

I don’t want to leave this world without having said what needs to be said,
and so I’ll say it now.

Just in case.

Just in case
I perish suddenly
Without warning
Like how they die in the movies
And leave everyone at a loss.

I have loved all of you
With all the love I have been gifted
And all the love I have ever known.

So even when I am gone,
I live on inside of you,
Keeping you strong
Even if you think you’re wrong.

These words are cliche,
Because love can be quite simple,
There is no complicated mechanism
That needs to be made.

But I will dedicate my whole life
As a romantic gesture to you all
And hope that makes
you blush in awe

Never letting you forget-

You are loved!
You are loved!
You are loved!

Let Me Coat Your Body

Let me coat your body, my love
Let me drink your tears.
Feel the physical strain.
Let me throw myself
in front of
projectile words
that cause you pain.

Let me attempt to vanquish
the demons that scold you.

Your sacrifice
will never be in vain.

Your willingness
is fair and bold.

As you dare to love me,
veins, tendrils, more visible,
Hopelessness more frequent
than I’ve witnessed
before.

Let me clutch at my chest,
Wedge out bodies together-
So your hurt can be mine
And my strength can be yours.