Hearty Affairs


Written by Fatima Khan

The hands shiver. The knees- weak, trembling, unsure of where your steps are headed.  A perpetual pain in the chest; not the thundering and diagnosable kind, but the nasty, grave, deeply entrenched kind, the one which leaves you paralyzed, frozen, still. The one you can’t go to the doctor with, or won’t; How would you really describe the symptoms? “It’s eating the insides of all my organs, but I am pretty sure it’s just in my head”. But your stomach, it doesn’t hurt; it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist anymore. It is only your precarious bones that prevent your body from falling apart. The ineffable sinking feeling it accords you with, one you’re sure you won’t ever be able to overcome; one of the only things you’re sure of. The insurmountable agony, the lingering sadness deeply ingrained in the pit of your soul. You feel hollow, but never empty. There is always a void within you, shouting, bawling, begging for freedom, for the opportunity to be able to break free, to let go of the shackles, its limbs so everlastingly tethered to you. But what do you do about it?

Easy. You get up, dress up, and show up. Every day, without fail. You don’t do it because you want to, but because you have to. Given a choice, you’d rather lie in that unkempt bed forever. Except for that, isn’t an option. It never is. So instead, you wake up from eight hours of pretence sleep, splash some water on that frown, hoping, some of it has secretly seeped inside your body, just enough to cleanse your system in its entirety. Next, wear that smile like it’s a newly picked robe. Only, it isn’t new, or real, or even convincing for that matter. Who do you think you’re fooling? Definitely not yourself.

When did it happen? Do you remember? When was the exact moment, your effortless charm turned into a well rehearsed technique, your bona fide warmth into a forced formality? That ever so genial nature into a lackadaisical and dull temperament, that unabashed public display of love and affection into a covertly carried out highly occasional and clandestine rarity.  When did the optimist-realist turn into a misanthrope? The Pollyanna to Cassandra? The bridge you crossed from perennially offering a helping hand to that enervated sigh.

Why are we so afraid to talk? To let people in? To hold down the guard, even for a minute. Maybe because the last time you tried doing that, it didn’t serve you well.The last time you told someone you’ve abusive parents, your entire school learnt about it. Or, that time he told you- he’s adopted- it made you felt special and important, only to learn after months, how every girl he’s ever spoken to was confided in, with that piece of information in the very first conversation. Or, how she talked to you about her past, but forgot to mention a little detail about how she cheated on him.

So instead, we start wearing a garb to cloak those insecurities. To veil that complete absence of trust we harbor, to pretend like we know where we’re headed. But in reality, we’re so terribly fear-stricken and petrified by the very idea of unearthing our past and exposing someone to it. It’s almost like giving a part of yourself to someone, one you won’t ever get back. (No, not like virginity)
And so, we resent attachment of any sort, anything that makes us even a tad bit vulnerable to pain, to heartache.
But the truth is, you have to take that jump, that leap of faith. Isn’t that the only possible way one can ever find their true soul mate? Not necessarily in the romantic sense of the term, but merely someone you can talk to at any time of the day, someone you can list as your emergency contact not because it’s obligatory for you to mention a blood relative but because you trust that person with your life, because he is your person. Do you, have a person?

So we take that risk, play the gamble. Forgo what our mind tells us and listen to our heart. No, the heart isn’t always right. More often than not, it’s foolish and flippant, daft and idiotic, frivolous and unwarranted. But once in a blue moon, it’s absolutely spot on. The odds are against you, but you take that leap in the dark or else you are forever inflicted with the ‘pretentious good sleep’, the ‘fake smile’ to put on for the world to see, the ‘weak knees’, the ‘aching chest’, the ‘precarious skeleton’.
Your call, the whimsical heart or the prudent mind. The staunch stomach or the hollow void. You pick. To find your person, or to lay down in solitude. To be someone’s person, or be a solitary reaper.

About the author

Fatima Khan

Fatima Khan is a pursuing English Honors from University of Delhi. She is an expressive and rapturous person. She hopes to become a Journalist in the near future, but leaves rest to fate.
Catch her at [email protected]

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