“This will be the last time, I promise,” my voice cracks on the phone as I strive hard to convince her. “But please meet me tomorrow, Lily.”
“Why are you still hounding me, Sam? For god’s sake, I’m married now!” Lily’s voice sounds taut and guarded.
The call goes kaput. She’s hung up, but I’m smiling – her voice signalled affirmation.
How well I know my Lily! Her intonation…her agitated breathing…all so familiar. And why not? For three years they’ve been my lifeline…my raison d’etre.
I busy myself for the rest of the day settling bills, packing all our memorabilia. Cards still redolent with jasmine, letters bearing her pearly handwriting, our photographs at the hospital lobby — cruel reminders of the love that set our hearts afire, singed our souls, and left it scarred forever!
A dank breeze blows in some spray. And a cache of memories and emotions, that are chronologically three-years-old but have pumped oxygen to my heart for centuries.
The overpowering antiseptic smell in the corridors of the Civil hospital was suddenly leavened by a whiff of jasmine – I instinctively looked up and sure enough, it was Lily. We exchanged glances, holding each other’s eyes for just a few seconds, before she proceeded to visit her grandmother. My long hours at the ward seemed less burdensome, ever since this exuberant girl started visiting her ailing relative.
Love operates in strange ways. Or so I realised. I looked forward to seeing her, discreetly adjusting my duty timings. At 30, I often felt like a giddy teenager in love, despite the 9-year difference between us. Her gay abandon made my sceptical self believe in magic. Her euphonious voice inspired me to admire the beauty of stardust and moonshine. Together, we wove gossamer dreams with the fragile yarn of passion.
However, the yarn finally sundered. Disregarding three years of togetherness, Lily got married to a groom of her parents’ choice. I was left dumbfounded by her parting words.
“Please forgive me, I couldn’t tell them about you. They wouldn’t have understood or accepted.”
I felt as though my universe had shattered, its shards scattering a thousand crimson smithereens in my heart.
My performance at the hospital took a dip. I was sent on leave.
I wear the ivory floral shirt Lily had gifted me earlier.
I like the mark of my lipstick on your pastel shirt lapel, she would say.
She arrives on time.
“Lily, I’ve realised my love for you has no expiry date. I tried r-really hard but couldn’t f-forget you,” I rub my eyes hard; my head feels heavy. “K-keep this carefully.” I return our stash of memories.
Why is the ground teetering?
And then the truth hits me – the barbiturate overdose has started working.
“What happened…aren’t you feeling well, Sam?” Lily’s voice involuntarily quivers.
“Sam? Sister Samantha!”
I smile feebly…Lily addressed me formally whenever she was nervous.
I slowly slip into a bottomless, dark abyss.
When and why did my raison d’etre metamorphose into my nemesis?
(Story only – 500 words)
Here, raison d’etre is the loan word. Borrowed from French, it means the most important reason or purpose for someone’s existence.
Glossary: Barbiturate – a class of strong sedative drugs
P.C. Naomi Irons on Unsplash