Old Love

Old love. O-l-d l-o-v-e. She half mutters to herself as they crank up the radio for her to hear. It is late afternoon, patchy sunshine lies on the grass and a brave ray manages to reach her gnarled ankle. Time hangs heavy in mid-air. Just like her, time has nowhere else to go at the moment. Everything starts off as a ritual, spring arrives gaudily, summer follows on its toes breathlessly, you throw in a few autumns along the way, and from nowhere a pattern emerges. Time still doesn’t have a place to go to but you do and therefore you don’t notice the slow ticking of the clock. You miss the fact that clocks are never in a hurry. You miss the fact that one iteration leads to another one but you cannot break the mould, for if there is a pattern inside the circle, there is a void outside it and after a while a void can drown you, so it is safer to be confined endlessly. But a void is filling her up now, drowning her even, as she follows the clock and she is in no hurry this time and she has nowhere else where she can be. She knows now that there is nothing universal about time, a minute is an eternity when accompanied by old age.

In a short while, the sunshine will pass, easing away, walking backwards like a young child that has lingered too long: slow, retraceable steps at first and then a sudden about turn followed by a quick scampering of feet along the horizon. Not that it matters really for it has been a long time now since the sunshine managed to make its way inside her heart, she seems to be a victim of an endless dusk. He has been gone for a long time, she has spent more years cherishing his memories than holding his hand. She has aged without him, he wasn’t around when she noticed the first signs of grey hair, he wasn’t around when she learnt that time keeps a counter for you and paints your skin with wrinkles as a reward, she didn’t have to ask him to speak up because silences are always loud and especially from those who have long since gone on their own journeys. She has talked to him sometimes, when she was by herself, she would ask a question and wait for a response. When none was forthcoming, she would shake her head at where he should have been sitting. “Always a man of few words”, she would mutter as she got up with her aching knees and clear his plate for him. After a while, she stopped the role play, sometimes the characters you create don’t depart when the curtain falls, they hang around and start demanding their own lines. Sometimes, worse still, they wander away in the middle of a performance and you realize that for all the power you think you exude over your imagination, you don’t have the last word.

She goes through his words, she sifts through the times they had spent together, she lives a parallel life where she has accepted that he isn’t around and she very much is. And all the time the counter has ticked and the wrinkles have arrived, the reality of the past has been blurred and the days have become a jumbled maze falling over each other to get to the end. She smiles to herself for she knows that her days of chasing recollections are almost over. And so as the sunshine tiptoes out, and the radio hums an unfinished symphony, she gathers her wrap around her and with trembling hands opens a parchment that has seen better days. She traces his writing on the paper and thinks of his face as he went off to war and knows that in her heart, he came back a long time ago.

His words spring out and for a minute sunshine abounds everywhere.

There will be a summer some day
In a hidden corner of my heart
When an icy fog shrouds
Everything that I once knew

Through eyes that can only see
A few scattered memories
I will see you walking
Towards me, this time forever

And life will come full circle
As I hold on firmly this time
I’ll walk with you into a promised land
Leaving any parting behind us.

Old Love, O-L-D L-O-V-E,the radio continues to croons. She half nods to herself as they prepare to wheel her back to her room. She wonders if she should tell them about her old love – not a love that grew old along with her but a love that stayed around un-exorcised even when it died a young death.

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