Choultries are depressing in the evenings. Disorderly empty chairs, echoes of laughing relatives bouncing off lazy white walls, broken flowers; water spilled here and there from water fights between running cousins, goodbyes and wishes hanging in the air, the feeling that the last few remaining people on the earth are pulling away, going far away from you.
It just screams emptiness, like my Sunday evenings back when I was in school. Dad watching the news; me, sprawled on the living room floor doing homework and the only ritual I most enjoyed throughout my school – Packing my bag, arranging books according to size, emptying my pencil pouch, cleaning it and then putting everything back again. It was how I coped with having to welcome Monday. I remember the sinking feeling of familiarity and consistent family time that exploded every Sunday.The news, its ads, the songs, the anchor’s dead voice, mom’s walking in and out of the hall bringing food for dad. When I think of it now, it brings an onslaught of tired whys and hows followed by 2 never mores.
It felt like I was living somebody else’s Sunday evening, on borrowed time, in borrowed space. It was not mine, it could never be mine unless I was older enough to do what I wanted to with my Sundays.
I’m old enough today. But there’s always a but.
When I am getting dressed to see you, a vast nothingness of forgotten Sundays opens up and I look at it with an almost bored desire to not be there but still be there. Sometimes, I don’t want you as much as I want you. Some other times, I think of what it would be like to have a whole Sunday for myself, without having to share it with anyone and I smile. Sometimes, I think of having too many Sundays for myself and the promise of solitude thrills me just as much as it scares me. Eventually, the fear of missing you and wanting what I could have had, but can’t now is what holds me back.
Every time, I turn cold, the memory of your laugh makes me warm. The 101 names you have given me on account of various celebratory accidents, the slowness in your movements when you sleep, the rare outbursts of affection that you show me only in my imagination, the languages you have invented and the songs you sing, the words you distort and change to fit your mouth, the way you laugh when you see people fall, the way you won’t stop laughing when I fall; your face and its creases, your hand and its raw warmth, the tightness in your chest and your hugs, the way you caress my head when I weep in your arms.
These are only some of the things that hold me back from going ahead and having at all the Sundays myself. What brings cold logic to the warm, faint beating in my heart and the voice of your laugh is the Choultry; its ugly dullness. It’s how I will be if I am with you.