2012

It’s May. You come into my life. I’ve never met anyone like you
before. You are dark and encompassing, wanting me all to yourself. I let you
take me, thinking our friendship will be short lived.

It’s September. I met Ameena today. I guess you could say we
became best friends quickly. We became inseparable, seemingly sisters to
everyone around us. This was why I loved Paris. You always found people like
you, you always found your safe space.

2015

It’s May. My fists are clenched. My heart is beating faster than I’ve ever felt it before. My insides want to explode. Everything hurts yet nothing helps. I take deep breaths. But
nothing works. I want to break. But then I realise I am already broken. And no
one knows. No one ever asks.

The Karachi heat has already begun to overtake my senses. The heat is claustrophobic, and sticky. Just like they are. No one is in town. But then again, May always passes by
like a quiet flu – you don’t really notice until you can breathe properly
again.

It’s June and she’s back again. I thought I had said bye to her all those years ago. But here she is, back in my life, taking me over like she never left. She doesn’t let me breathe, or feel, or even think straight. She doesn’t have an expiry date – at least, she doesn’t tell me. She comes and goes as she pleases.

It’s July.

“This is our world,” she whispers to me through her small mouth.

Her lips are worn out from the times she pulled her skin off them as she worried about things that were bigger than her.

I shift my gaze to her eyes. Eyes that I thought I had known all my life. They are dark, the way Karachi gets on a load shedding night after the rain. There is no glint of hope in them like there used to be.

A strand of hair falls onto them. It’s grey and frayed at the ends. I don’t remember it being like this before. She lifts her palm up to meet mine. I place it against hers and
they fit perfectly against each other. Our caramel skin tones match, as do the
lines on our palms. We were the same if you looked at us from a distance.

It has been years since I saw her. And I don’t know what to say to
her because her mouth is so small, her eyes are so dark, and her hair hints at
the pain she’s been through.

I gaze at her for long, as time no long renders my thoughts or
feelings. It’s become elastic like everything else around me. I smile at her,
but she doesn’t smile back. I leave the room slowly, staring at her through the
corner of my eye. She stands there frozen, solely existing within this elastic
world I had created.

It’s August. I left her behind in Karachi. Paris was different.
She couldn’t follow me here, I wouldn’t let her.

The cobblestones sparkle under the rain as I walk to my apartment,
smiling to myself. All I had to do was come back – Paris had always been my
safe space. Paris never changed and that was why I loved it. It was unpredictable.

2016

It’s April. She’s back again. Last time, she left without a
goodbye. I didn’t know how long she was planning on staying this time.

She wasn’t leaving this time. I knew it. I knew it with the way
she monitored my breathing, the way she was a constant weight bearing over me,
the way she wanted me all to herself. I didn’t mind this time. I welcomed her
with open arms. I made her my first priority. She came and took over my life.
brunches and croissant’s were a thing of the past. Maybe that
was why I loved Paris so much, because it reminded me of how unpredictable she
was.

It’s May and she still hasn’t left. I look at her and she asks me,

“Isn’t this what you wanted?”

It wasn’t. Not anymore.

Ameena had stopped talking to me. She didn’t want to compete with her,
even though, Ameena didn’t even know about her. I stopped caring. I stopped
trying.

It’s June. Ameena was strength, when I was weakness. Her dark
hair, almost mirroring my own, swayed as she walked away from me. The
cobblestones were glistening in the summer heat, my head was hurting and my
clothes stuck to my skin. I looked down at the cobblestones wondering how many lasts
people had had in this exact spot; they were marked with history – everything
in Paris was. I just didn’t know when it would be marked with mine. You never
really know the moments in your life that end up being goodbyes. At least, I
didn’t. I watched her shimmy down the street I had walked down so many times
myself. I wanted her to turn back, smile, tell me we’d meet again. But she
didn’t. Because nothing was the same anymore. It hadn’t been for a while now.

“Don’t cry,” she had said, right before leaving.

She knew I would. Because she was strength, when I was weakness.
Her petite figure was skewed by the oversized hoodie she was wearing, even
though it wasn’t cold. She was always cold. Her grey bag was weighing her down,
like it always did, and her small quick steps made it seem as though she was
running. Maybe she was, in a way. Running away from everything she claimed she
hadn’t done, but had put me through.

She was further away now, but I could still make out the smoke
coming out from her vogue cigarette. I had introduced her to them, four years
ago when we met. She didn’t even smoke back then. The smoke drifted higher and
higher, until I could see was the blue of the sky. When I looked back down, she
had already turned a corner.

It has now been 86 days since we spoke. I don’t mean a hi or a how
are you that doesn’t really mean how are you at all. I mean a conversation, a
give and take, one you were actually invested in. I had never been one to fight.
I never held a grudge. But you did. That was the thing. You had always been
stronger than me. You were the one calling people out for offending you, and
sometimes, even me. I told you I was diagnosed with depression and you left.

You left me alone, in the dark, in the midst of a change. I guess
I shouldn’t have blamed you. I expected you to be the strong one but I realised
that I was the one who was strong.

I think of the first day we met and it’s funny now? Because the one person
I had ever confided in, my first friend across the ocean, didn’t get it.

You told me to take some pills and everything would be alright.
You told me that depression is a disorder that can easily be cured and that my
thoughts weren’t real. Maybe not. But I don’t think that’s how you handle it.
Not when you had already been in my shoes, along for the ride, from the very
first day.

I can’t blame you. You never liked being around people. I forced you
to surround yourself with them. I made us meet new people, until we finally
found ones we could call our own.

I look at you from a distance on the days I have the ability to
drag myself out of bed. You’re laughing with our friends. Friends that are mine
but now I don’t want to be around anyone. You told me I was distant, too caught
up in my own head. But I didn’t want to tell you what was happening. I didn’t
want to tell you that the darkness was intoxicating me, it was suffocating me
and I was not brave enough to let it go. You began telling me you were too busy
with school and then I’d see that you weren’t busy at all. You started seeing
me and looking away. And eventually, I did as well.

40 days is a long time to be alone. But I was. I was so alone, I
had learned to hear the whispers of my neighbours coming through my thin walls.
I learnt to talk to myself out loud so I could hear a voice, any voice. I also
learnt that I can be alone.

Even when my family arrived those 40 days later and told me I
looked sick, and weak, and thin I shrugged them off. Not even realising I had
gone an entire month without eating a single meal. Not realising that my
depression and anxiety had turned me into a shell that only spoke when spoken
to.

When you’re the happy girl, the funny one, the loud one, people
expect you to be that girl all the time. The minute I stopped being that girl,
I was abandoned. Today, I don’t feel any less alone than I did all of those 40
days because every single moment of that time replays in my head and I’m
sitting here, in the dark, trying to remember what I did wrong. Blaming myself
when maybe you’re the one I should be blaming. I’m not any better but I’m not
any worse.

 

 

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