BY PRADIPTA DUTTA (COPYRIGHTS 2017)
What do I say about Kas?
I don’t know what to say, although she’s the type of woman who does not leave you empty – but has you filled with a myriad of emotions and situations – that for the longest of time you cannot fully decipher, it is crazy.
I hold a right over all these words, for I have experienced her in all her seasons – at a time when she was at her crossroads, and she was with me for more than half a decade, and therefore, I can say, I know her in ways nobody ever can – not even her parents, or the girls she called her friends, but who always used her for their own means.
There was something very unsettling about her – from the very first day I met her – and I don’t know why, 15 days after meeting her, I told her that one day she would break away, from everyone of us.
She laughed, she didn’t think she could break away – for, the ties she kept with her family were intensely strong, one she said she’d never break, for she had become their guardian angel since she was four years of age.
She had these strange ideas about herself – she’d say she was a Goddess that was accidentally dropped on Earth and was paying the price to have been so greedy for having wanted to see the blueness of Planet Earth.
But then, her eyes would become distant – as if she did not belong where everyone was, and she would sit staring at open spaces, in middle of conversations and people would think she was insolent.
I did not think so, for I loved her eyes – it did not matter to me where they were looking, and that is why I told her, so many times that no man could ever love her like I did.
A few months after talking to her as a friend, I asked her out and she said yes after 13 hours of silence.
A few questions erupted after she said yes to my proposal – and two of them were, was I okay with the fact that she was older than me by two years and that we both belonged to different communities.
It was my turn to become silent – for such questions I did not want to answer – I was not exactly looking for marriage, I mean as guys we really do not think that much – we ask someone out because we like them, we do not plan babies before the first date.
But she answered her own question an hour after my Silence.
“Love is not constrained by boundaries – Love did not look for places or people, Love just was. And if you love someone, you must be willing to take the risk, irrespective of what Logic presents to you.”
Her ideas always intrigued me.
“Nothing will be the same now, for I have entered your space.” She said, and I did not understand if it was a solution to some predicament or a warning to an incoming danger.
I know now.
I was her first relationship – and I don’t know why, although she met many men after me, I would eventually be her last.
Our first date was over a cup of coffee in this cozy café that played Iranian music that she liked.
Her taste of music was always out of the blue.
She wore a blue blouse and a black skirt that closely hugged her figure and her hair was tied neatly into a ponytail. She did not wear make-up except for a thin smear of kohl and a nude lip-gloss.
She never wore any jewelry, for she thought it did not suit her style, which was always free, and one that meant comfort, and one that was breezy.
Her skin was like porcelain – creamy white with a tinge of yellow that always shone in daylight and her cheeks held a natural blush, which became pink every time she laughed and which was very often.
Wherever we went, she invited glances – from women and men, alike – some lecherous, some jealous, some in amazement and some inscrutable, but they always glanced at her.
Why would not a man or a woman fall in love with her?
She was beautiful and mysterious – a beauty that held within it a childlike innocence, and yet the words she spoke came from a mine of wisdom, the depth of which could never be rightly fathomed.
To be very honest with you, I wanted to kiss her, the very first moment that she came in front of me.
I mean, the light in her eyes was intense and glass-like – and perhaps why they’d also named her Kas – and a need to have her, in my arms, as anything or anyhow took seed.
She had two cups of milk-coffee and I had a fruit shake, the name of which I don’t remember.
She asked me if I could walk with her, for she loved long walks, and I said yes.
Thirty minutes later, as she stood under a bough, explaining to me the intricacies of a leaf that she held in between her fingers, I kissed her on her lips.
She did not kiss me back and I stopped kissing her, opening my eyes.
She did not say anything, but stared into my eyes, confused and in daze.
And then she suddenly broke into a broad smile.
“Did you just kiss me?” She said, as if to herself.
“It feels like earthworms.” She muttered.
Who ever compared a kiss to earthworms?
“Have you never touched earthworms? That wriggly feeling you get, this kiss felt the same.”
I had never heard something as weird as that and I felt very bad.
I mean, she could have said something else – like I am sorry, I cannot kiss you, and I would have understood – but she was smiling instead and comparing our kiss to earthworms, whosoever did that?
It was supposed to be special, for it was not only her first kiss, but also mine.
I smiled forcefully and she came over and gave me a light peck on my cheek.
“I must go home. I don’t like going back home late, it makes me feel guilt-stricken.”
I walked her back to her car. I did not want her to feel guilt-stricken.
Three days later, I received a call from her.
It was 8 p.m. and it was raining, cats and dogs.
“Can you give me a hug?” She asked, sobbing.
I thought she meant an imaginary hug. I told her I was hugging her, like it’s usually done, in the virtual world.
“No, you idiot.” She said. “Meet me where we kissed.”
“It’s raining, Kas.” I paused.
“You come, ok? I’ll be there.” I completed myself.
When I reached the bough, she was already there, drenched in rain.
But she did not approach me, I went to her.
“Are you ok?” I asked.
“You are right, one day I will leave. I have known this since childhood, that one day I will leave.”
Her eyes were red, she had been crying in the rain.
I embraced her.
Her body was resistance, it was like she was not wanting to embrace me.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Why did you say it was raining?”
“It is raining, Kas.”
I had now become used to her strange questions and answering them without surprise.
“If it did not rain, what would change?”
“Stop overthinking. Just give me a hug.” I said.
She hugged me.
And then she suddenly jolted out of it.
“I feel like I’d fall.” She said.
“Why would you fall, am I not holding you?”
“Are you Granny?” She said.
“Yes. I am whatever you want me to be.”
“No, but are you Granny?”
And then she hugged me gently. “Possibly a gift from her angels.” She said, again, as if to herself.
She left abruptly without saying a word.
A week later, we went to a Forest she visited often – where she’d climb on trees and stay perched on tree-tops.
It started to rain suddenly, and she came on my face and kissed me, as if she had been longing for it.
She kissed like heaven – and I was surprised, how good she was – she kissed like she had finally found an oasis in a desert, moaning in between kisses, and I felt like asking her if it still felt like earthworms.
“No, it’s like nothing I’ve known before.” She said, stopping kissing.
I shuddered. How did she know what I was thinking?
I looked into her eyes and she smiled.
A week later, we went to a cemetery and kissed there.
And then in a Church she visited on Saturdays – she took me to this small attic like space behind the French window, hidden behind a curtain and kissed me again, and I hid her as I heard footsteps.
And she was laughing, her lips staining my shirt.
“Kisses must be feared more than bloodshed.” She said.
“Why could not she taste the Holy water from a Church, why could not she eat the Prasadam at the temple of Shiva, and bow at the Dargah – and why could not she kiss the man she loved in all these places?”
I tried to hush her, for I feared we would get caught.
She was laughing crazily.
“The priests are scared of me. I am the one that got Church doors opened when they were closed for her communion was more important than rules levied by lesser mortals.”
She started laughing again.
“A woman with no loyalties threatened the peace of men. Could she be the messenger of awareness?”
People were sure, many times and they asked me this as well, and thought that my Girlfriend was under the influence of drugs or alcohol – but she did nothing of those things, it was just her brain.
She was madness – a child that could never die.
“We should leave.” I whispered and she laughed on my face and kissed me again.
On one such days at the university, I had been roaming around with Nazia, a new friend I had found, when Kas came.
Kas did not greet her, and acted like she did not know me.
“What’s up?” I asked her.
She just smiled and left – and had us both wondering.
By now, she had started alienating herself from everyone – and she kept no friends.
It all started when one day, she slapped a popular girl who mocked the poetry Kas wrote.
Kas was a poet.
“Why did you slap her?” I asked.
“Not a word against art will be taken in her Temple.” She said.
“Can we have a normal conversation?”
I was started to get irritated with her behaviour.
“A normal conversation? Why don’t you have them with your girls – didn’t you always know that I was abnormal, because I think I never made any attempt to hide my Truth.”
“Kas, this is not the way you live in a society. You’ll end up alone.”
“I always was alone.” She said.
It was no use arguing with her – Kas was a woman who kept fixated beliefs about herself and although she always told everyone that she did not believe anything – these ideas she kept of being alone, or other such things were contrary to the claims she made.
“There’s two different things – a belief and a fact.” She would explain, her eyes glowing.
I was popular among girls and I always thought it was something Kas did not like but never spoke about.
One day we were working in a Laboratory and Nazia had her hand cut – she was my neighbour and so naturally I took her to get first-aid done.
When I returned back to my seat, Kas had left the class.
I asked her friend where she was, and I was told Kas suddenly remembered that she wanted to write poetry.
Kas kept a diary and on which she always scribbled – but she never left her Genetics class, it was her favourite subject and so I felt confused.
A few moments later, Nazia came back and we started working on our project and I forgot about Kas.
Kas never slept with me, although I tried to persuade her a lot of times. She would always plainly refuse.
Sometimes, it angered me, because it felt like, she was in another world – a world nobody knew anything about.
But she would surprise me – when she would suddenly land up outside my rented apartment with a tiffin box filled with delicacies that she prepared, beaming with her smile – and my friends would rush before me and take it from her hand.
And she would laugh, as she would watch them eat from it.
She would then sit with me and give me another box of food, which my friends called “the special box” and watch me eat.
She said she liked to nourish the ones she loved and took secret pleasure in watching people eat the food she cooked. It made her feel complete.
She had strange means to feel excited about life – means that were always out of human comprehension.
“You must miss home-cooked food.” She would smile.
I did not. With her around, I did not miss home. I wanted to tell her that, but I did not because I feared she would say something crazy or laugh at me and ruin the feel of it – and so I kept quiet.
One day, Kas saw me sit with Nazia in the University Library.
She came up to us and stared at Nazia.
Nazia smiled at her but she did not smile back.
She just handed me a book by Krishnamurty that she had borrowed from me and smiled at me.
Her eyes were always piercingly and hauntingly beautiful and I was mesmerized every time she would smile. She knew it, she made use of it, in ways I did not comprehend.
Nazia asked me, if Kas hated her and I tried to console her and said that Kas never hated anyone.
She was just indifferent.
“I am a girl. I know your Kas hates me. I can sense it every time she is around.” Nazia said and I ignored that remark – for I did not like getting in between all the girl-gossip.
I was a very ambitious and focused young man – but when Kas left me with others, when she acted in such mysterious ways and behaved like – I don’t know, she behaved like I had wronged her in some insanely deep way, in ways I did not know – it held me, her thoughts held me, even in the middle of my projects that were so important for me.
She did not speak to other people – boys or girls and said her whole world revolved around her family and around me and then she would laugh and melt into my arms as we would find shelter under the Pine trees of her Forest.
She would become groggy and say strange things – she would talk about dinosaurs and aliens and a language I did not understand, which she called French but which was not French.
And then she would sleep, her head heavy against my shoulder blade.
Once a cop approached us while we sat under the tree and she had slept while I was reading a book.
I only read spirituality.
The cop created a ruckus for he said that the place was not safe for women and couples were not allowed there.
Kas woke up and overheard our conversation.
“Can you be raped again if you have been raped once before, Officer?” She asked.
I became sick with fear – she would definitely have me arrested.
The cop looked at her and said nothing.
“The Forest protects its children, you should not worry.” She said.
“Do your parents know you are here with a man?” He asked her, smiling.
She smiled at him.
“No. But they still love me – they would love me even if I slept with this man.”
The cop rolled his eyes furiously.
I tried to diffuse the situation.
“We are sorry. We will just leave this place.” I said, nervously.
“Yes, you both can leave. I will stay here.” She said, plainly.
“I think I would have to fine you.” The Officer said, spitting out tobacco from his mouth.
I became scared.
I was scared not because we were going to be fined – but because he spat.
As an adolescent, Kas had once slapped a man who spat on the ground.
I was not scared of the cop, it was Kas that scared me with her antics.
“How much?” Kas asked him.
“Five-hundred, for you.” The cop grinned.
“I will give you one-thousand if you promise never to spit on the Earth again.” Kas said.
The earth from beneath my feet shook.
Kas did not carry her purse – and I had cash but it was for my Tuition fees.
“Your girlfriend is very rude. Have her behave better, or else I will arrest her.”
The policeman meant business.
“On what charges, Officer?” Kas asked.
“Shut up, Kas. You idiot woman, how dare you talk to the Police like this?” I shouted.
Kas looked at me blankly.
I started to fake tears – I was an expert at it.
“Sir, I apologise. She suffers from an illness – have you watched Taarey Zameen Par?”
The cop looked at me, and nodded.
“She is autistic. She does not understand what to say and when. She has problems in her daily life and her parents have had her committed to an asylum once. She is calm only when she is in the middle of Nature and that is why I brought her here, to relax her.”
“But – Kas started to speak.
“Shut up, Kas.”
I had taken full control of the situation.
“I apologise, Sir – you can please fine us but do not arrest her for she is sick mentally and also physically – it is a terminal illness, she is afflicted with.”
Kas started to laugh.
The Policeman looked at her, but this time, his eyes were filled with sympathy.
“It is okay. You seem like a sane young man. But this place is unsafe – there’s goons who roam around and who is responsible for your safety? What if they come and rape this girl? What would you do? She is already sick. It is our job to ensure your safety.”
“We did not kiss today.” Kas said, laughing.
I literally wanted to slap her at that moment.
Here I am, trying to escape this crazy situation that she had created for the both of us and she is there playing with a cop.
“I apologise, Sir. Please fine us.”
The cop shook his head, side to side.
“No. It is not about punishment. I just want you to understand the gravity of the situation. Is she a minor?”
“No, no. She is older than me.” I said.
The next thing would have been, me getting arrested for possessing a minor.
My heart was pounding in fear.
“Sugar mommy.” Kas muttered.
The Policeman did not hear her, I looked at her and raised my eyebrows and she smiled at me, mischievously.
“That’s fine then, although she looks like a minor – I don’t want to go into your details, because I understand she is sick and you love her. I will only fine you with three-hundred-and-fifty. And make sure you never come here again.” He said, satisfied with the deal he presented.
I gave him the money and dragged Kas to the car, and we drove off that place.
I don’t know if Kas went there again – but I made sure I never did.
It was late spring.
“I think we should break it off.” Kas said in a text message.
I asked her why.
By now, nothing she said surprised me – because as far as I had known her, she was capable of saying anything and everything under the sky and even beyond it.
“I don’t want to chain you.” She replied.
“Meet me by the Lakeside café.” I told her.
An hour later, she came dressed in a beautifully embroidered white dress with her hair tied up into a bun.
It must have been her idea to make that break-up memorable for she was very much aware of her beauty and the impact it had on others especially when she chose to wear white.
“Do you love Nazia?” She asked.
“Yes, I saw you touch her hand that day. I can see it – you definitely love her.”
“Are you crazy?” I said.
“It is okay. I will help you win her heart. She is beautiful.” She said.
“I don’t love her. I love you.” I said.
“No, no.” She was shaking her head. “There is no need to lie. It is okay. Love cannot be chained, you know. Let me know what you wish on, but I feel we should break it off and be friends instead.”
“How do you make such assumptions, Kas?”
She became quiet.
“You don’t love Nazia?” She asked after a while.
“Ofcourse not.” I replied.
“Are you not attracted to her? She is so hot.” She smiled.
“She maybe, I did not notice.”
“Seriously? I saw you notice her back.”
“Kas, you are insane.”
“I cannot sleep with you. Why don’t you date her instead? It is torturous for me to see you with her. I feel possessive and I hate this feeling – for Love does not mean possession – you are not my territory.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” I asked.
“I tried to control these feelings. I cry every night to sleep for I thought you would abandon me. It has been months now, of sleeplessness. You are wanted by so many girls – and I can see the looks of jealousy on their faces every time we are together. They always say mean things to me and I act like I have not heard them. But I can hear everything that is said. I do not want to be a part of this – my journey is a very different one. I have many works unfinished and these things, I do not want – for people drain me.”
I spent the whole day trying to make her understand that I only loved her and told her that I would never interact with those bitches again.
She became quiet, but she was not convinced.
A few months later, one afternoon, Kas asked me if I wanted her in marriage.
“Kas, I think we discussed we would never talk about the future.”
She was adamant, she wanted an answer.
“I don’t know. It depends on my family. I will try to convince them – but I don’t think I can ever go against them.”
“It is so weird, because I was thinking of having babies with you – if you marry me now.”
I thought she was joking.
“I want to be a Mom.” She said.
“I want three babies with you and we will have a little home with a large garden on the mountains.”
“Kas, this not the age to get married, you know that, don’t you?”
“Yes, I understand. But I could. I could leave everything if you said yes.”
I tried to make her understand that it was a crazy idea, like all her ideas and she became quiet again.
She never argued, she would just express herself and become quiet, if things did not go her way.
She never pleaded.
Following that day, she never talked about commitment or marriage again and neither spoke of feeling possessive.
She still cooked for me, but she had become cold and distant – and became more so, increasingly.
Over time, our relationship became increasingly strained and the old and loving Kas was somewhere lost.
She would now easily lose her temper over the most minor of things and snap herself shut in her room and make no contact with anyone – listening to Psychedelic Rock.
Her parents took her to have her counselled by a Psychiatrist but she did not respond to his treatment and threatened to kill herself if they forced her to take any medicines.
Kas hated modern medicine – although she loved prescribing them.
People were afraid of Kas and chose therefore, to leave her alone – lest she blow up.
She had known secrets of all of us and she had understood us to our very core and for this reason, most people, chose not to trouble her much – for they secretly feared her.
And then one day, she suddenly went solo-traveling all by herself, having lied to her family.
I tried to stop her, but it was in vain.
I tried to understand her behavior – but it was of no use, because by now, it was only break-ups and patch-ups every other day with her.
Five years later of dating me, Kas’s family died in a car accident.
She did not mourn and people looked at her shocked. People talked and invented very many theories about her state of reaction to such pain – but it was like, she had become deaf to everyone and everything.
She took care of all her finances and hired a Financial Advisor for herself and told me she did not trust her friends or relatives.
A month later, she called me up in the middle of the night and started crying for she had woken up with a very bad nightmare.
I tried to console her and asked her not to cry, and that she would be fine.
She broke up with me the very next day.
“You do not ask a person not to cry.” She said.
And then, Kas vanished.
She just left a note saying, she was off traveling and did not know when she would return.
It has been a long time now.
I am a successful man and I have dated so many women – but an emptiness still lurks in my heart and I am never able to feel the completeness that I once found with Kas.
I am now with a beautiful woman and I love her, but Kas is someone I can never forget.
One night, she called me up and cried her lungs out.
“You do not ask a person not to cry.” I remembered those last words she had said to me before we broke up, and so I just let her cry, not speaking a word.
She was holed up in some forlorn village, she had told me – apart from that she did not disclose anything else about her location and I chose not to ask.
It means Glass. And I think she was shattered.