Like all lovers, they too had a language of their own. And their love was violent.
Now, she gets turned on by the smell of burnt weed or nicotine because it smells like him. The way his thirsty tongue rolls down her throat and slurps her up like soup, leaves her wanting to cling onto him. He cleans his mouth by rubbing toothpaste just for her but she can still taste it in his mouth. And invariably she goes back for more servings.
She looks at him and knows that this is not going to work out. She thinks of the boys that left her, the boys that she thought she was going to end up with and didn’t. She thinks of all the promises they had given her, which she later realized, weren’t contracts. She thinks of all the wilted “I love you”-s.
She pulls the blanket to make herself cosy and turns to look at his face. He seems so calm. Unlike the nth fight that they had gotten into earlier in the day. He was screaming. She was screaming. He said that she overreacted. She said that he is immature. Then he started swearing. Then she started swearing. Then both of them stopped listening to each other. The tiniest of things triggered them. A comment, an opinion, a disagreement, the past, the present…everything.
Was love supposed to be a battlefield? It was draining her. She came back exhausted, working herself to the bone, and then working the relationship. It was draining him as well with the added burden of his work load and financial burden.
Neither of them called each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. They used to talk about marriage. One day lovingly. Another day, not so lovingly. He wanted out several times. So he did walk away. She wanted out several times. And so she did too. And each goodbye was like a glass chip being slashed on the heart. There were tears involved, lots of it. There would be hugs that would choke them.
She knows how much he loves her. It was a different kind of love. Both of them didn’t understand it. But both of them gave it too much power. They were certain of the moment, but never of tomorrow. It was so difficult for both of them to be on the same page and it was constant argument to get there.
People told her to leave him.
He told her to leave him.
She told herself to leave him.
As much she tried, there was always something that pulled her back to him. She tried going out with a guy that her friend set her up with. She went out with someone she used to know in school and a couple of others along the way. She would kiss them but only take him home. After him, no kiss ever felt delicious. No kiss ever had her out of breath. She didn’t even want the breath. He could have it. She breathed through his mouth and he, hers.
Both of them have said “I love you” to each other. But somehow, they have always felt empty. It was not said for the sake of filling in air, but it didn’t hit the right note. It seemed like a kid playing keyboard. Just noise. Not music.
On some days, they have the energy to kill each other. Other days, they are walking around on toes, handling each other with kid gloves. He makes her happy. She made him happy. She doesn’t know if happiness is equivalent to love. He doesn’t either.
People tell her this relationship is toxic. That she needs to get out. That she will not be able to go on like this for a long time.
She asks him why he stays with her, even after their gruelling verbal abuse matches. He asks her the same thing. She thought for a while. She has always found, “I love you, but” to be painful. On the other hand, she always had a thing for “But, I love you”. This was that. Despite everything, they stayed together. For better and for worse.
They hated each other with the same passion they kissed. With a ferocity and violence that grew every single time.
They loved each other without a vocabulary. “Love” seems like too less a word. Or is it too much a word because it isn’t enough to describe them?
She always wondered what went wrong in this calculation. Why was she supposed to meet him if she can’t have him? Why was she put in this tug of war between logic and emotion? Why were there so many complications? Why can’t she move past him? Why can’t she let him go? Why was he acting like this? Why didn’t it work? Why didn’t he try to understand? Why didn’t he let her go?
A small mental note opens up in her brain.
At one of his places, there was a small cramped bed. He made room for two. He pushed himself in the far corner, towards the wall, and asked her to get in beside him. She wriggled her way through and as she did, he kissed the back of her neck. He held her so tight that she knew at that moment, he was her belt. She also held on to his hands that had scooped from behind, because otherwise she would fall. She told him without realizing the importance of the next few words, “Don’t let me go”. And he said “Hmm”.
She remembered that day specifically. And she thought about how in his heart, he had made room for two. Squeezed both him and her into it, so much so that there was no space to breathe. Even the brightest flames cannot survive without some space.
What she knew was this. She loved him. He loved her. If they could call it “love”.
What she knew was this. She loved him. He loved her. The best way they knew how.
What she knew was this. She loved him. He loved her. How much ever they could.
What she knew was this. She loved him. He loved her. Against their better judgements.
What she knew was this. She loved him. He loved her. They will never let each other go.
What she wanted to say was this: I love you. I love me. But I don’t love us.
Featured Image Credits: Sri Harsha Dantuluri