Amidst the skyscrapers, where live in the sun tan fearing population, do you see The bricks moulded by those rusty hands , Of the sun-scorched migrants Blackened by the chimney exhaust?
On the hoardings, do you see A dejected young man Drooping on his table, the pills spread out? The creative loner drugging to spark ideas in absence of sleep, For a presentation next week?
Of the cars that glides smooth Do you see that solemn driver Marred by the uncomfortable silence Of the fatigued couple, entangled in a nasty, felonious fight of a young girl suddenly coming In-between their 25 years?
On the driver’s side, His thoughts tossed by the loss of the education he couldn’t complete?Dampened by the happiness To his family he couldn’t give?
In the young boy slumbering uncomfortably under the buildings, As the drain stinked the humid air, While he Drowned in his own sweat and tears; And, the sweltering heat, Do you see the A.C water dripping Near his feet?
If not, You, my sweetheart, The happiest dandy rose of all, Are sure tucked in your urban nest.
…“Oh, the doves!” pointed Ana, with amusement in her eyes. Frank, suddenly taken aback, looked at her in surprise, “Ahah! You remember them?”
She nodded her head agreeing.”How will I forget them, Frank?” she smiled at him, and then abruptly shifted her focus on the willow tree.
“Did I ever tell you, back in the 50s,” said Ana, suddenly taken back through the time tunnel, blankly unbothered about the surroundings. “In a beautiful evening, I was sitting under this very tree with Michael by my side.”
“I can precisely recall, 15th October. A Monday it was .”
“The Pharmaceuticals paid him like a miser, Frank. He didn’t even have the money to buy a decent car to go to the office, let alone buy some unnecessary pieces of jewelry to profess love!” she grinned.
“And still on that day when he put the ring on my finger, Frank, I felt so sorry for the extra spendings of these materialistic stuff people gotta buy to show romance. God!” she laughed, clutching her stomach too.
And then soon slipped back into being solemn, the sorrows engulfing again. “In all truthfulness, I wanted to pity him. I honestly wanted to.”
A soft smile crept up on her face as she let out a deep breath. “But then, I don’t know what hit my brain, or my heart precisely. But with this…this fearless,” she paused, and then continued with much emphasization, “this colour blind love we had, all I could feel that day, after enduring so much with our rule-breaking, unacceptable love of ours, was the courage he had for me.” She waited, “And the immense respect I truly held for him.”
“When on that special moment he put the ring on my finger and came close to plant the sincerest kiss on my lips, I kept thinking if I was to cry or smile, or like everyone else just close my eyes, as in some cliched movies being shot under the tree,” Ana snorted a laugh, rolling her eyes at the same time.
A long silence followed, the old lady now lowered her head in dismay. Some yards away, the ducks paddled trailing a symmetrical V on the gleaming sunlit surface.
The brimming tears, that had been covered up with her crinkled eyes of her roundabout laughter, for so long, threatened to cascade down any moment from now. And the more relentlessly she tried to bore them, more did the tears pierce her eyes, in return.
“Did he really do a crime loving me?” Ana choked on the words, as she quickly turned her head, looking at Frank quizzically. “When love doesn’t match people’s black and white world, do the just feel their prejudice boiling? Is that why they complain to authorities?”
And then the tears burst out; her frail body shuddering violently when she struggled to mouth her inner trepidation after so long.
“Frank, what a nuisance I must have been to you for the past years, haven’t I? I wish I-, ” her voice drowned in her own pool of tears. “I can’t help it. Every moment, I could still see him dragged by the police. And, whether our love was a crime or not, I still couldn’t help feeling so pathetic about being lucky for the skin I had, feeling so immensely guilty for the job Daddy held.”
Ana struggling to breathe, took in large dollops of air, her weak body trembling along at the same time.
“Truth be told,” she went on. “We were quite lucky. Quite lucky. Never discussed about having kids. Lord! what a burden the world would have been on them.”
She halted for a bit. The tears unstoppable in their streams, made hey eyes bloodshot staining her face pink, “I still can’t let go of the pain in my heart, Frank. It’s till now holding onto the biggest grief I feel.”
As though going to shake the burden on her heart with the air, she exhaled heavily, staring at the other end of the lake, her eyes now dewy, “The grief , the gulit of never imploring the court about what happened to him, never even tying to find out; it haunts me.”
“And, even though I could have ended up this past ugly days today with a genuine apology to you,” she gasped for air again. “But, I won’t.”
“For all the times I have contemplated ending my life this day or that, Frank, the love that you hold for me, I see them in the morning cups of tea, sense it in the silent long stares each morning. It’s all for you, Frank, that I tell myself suicide’s not worth the pain I’ll pass on to somebody else. Atleast, never to you.”
“I can not say sorry, Frank. That’s such a pointless and worthless thing to say,” she halted. ” It’s thank you. For coming into my life when I needed you the most, for bearing the sack of burden that I am, for accepting me even when I absolutely loathed myself failing to suicide 3 times since the last two years.”
And then she ended there. Abruptly. The past spread out in front.
All the grief that she had been holding on for so long flowed. The pain vented out.
Old Frank, with his fingers squeezing his eyes, and gut wrenched, as he now gaped for air, hearing the first time his wife’s attempted suicide failures, found difficulty in breathing.
A stillnes settled in the atmosphere; the quiteness making the kids’ laughter, the dogs’ ecstatic barks echoing all around; eventually being broken by those doves of the willow tree, ruffling their grey-browm plumage, preparing for shooting into the sky again, soon flying away to their distant locations.
“Oh, Ana” he quivered, his shakiness, remembering the bygone case of Michael Custody Brutality, the infamous death of a Michael, a black man tied in a felonious interracial marriage in the 50s U.S, now apparent.
The horror of retracing the “Police murdered Michael” rally in his small town, the horror of hearing for the first time his own wife’s failed suicidal attempts, left him covering his wide open mouth with his hands. The terror visible in the bloodshot eyes.
It took a long, drudging minute to finally break the void that had suddenly entered the conversation. Frank being the one breaking the melancholic silence, slowly filling the air.
As he curled his hand around Ana’s, hinting at his promise he wasn’t leaving her so soon, he uttered, “Gone is the dead, Ana. Gone in somewhere faraway land.” His, raspy voice now becoming deep, his attention matching eye to eye with his wife “But, don’t you dare go away leaving me alone, Ana.” “Not so soon, please.”
And then he pulled her closer, kissing her forehead fervently, both of them breaking down together, before releasing her from his embrace.
“Or, maybe,” he said, softly beaming at her moist face now cupped in his hands, “Not before me. Alright, love?”