The Visitor

I find her waiting at the doorstep when I get home. In grand style and as she is wont to do, she has turned up un-announced. No luggage is in sight, she hasn’t even taken her shoes off and she is at the door poised, as if making an exit. “Were you leaving to go somewhere or were you about to come in?” I ask her politely, hoping she reads between the lines and discloses the purpose of her visit.

“It’s been ages”, she answers. That is the thing with her, she believes in brevity. There is no reading between the lines; there is no reading at all if she were to have her way all the time. She taught me long ago that you look for meanings only when you are unwilling to accept the ones you already have. “Acceptance sets you free to chase newer rainbows. If you study the rain drops and their pattern, you are left with an icy mist around the heart”, she told me once. I know it has been an age, that is the other thing about her, she states the obvious. I wonder if it is because I am unwilling to see it, since the obvious is always the last option. You come to it when every other avenue you have explored leaves you with tired feet and a dusty walk and no real answers.

I ruminate over questioning her over the length of her visit but decide against it. She arrives uninvited, makes herself at home and leaves without a warning and a trace. That is the pattern and it gives me solace that all the decisions lie with her; I am a mere player in this pantomime.

“What do you remember about my last visit?’ she asks. We all have areas in our hearts that we cordon off for ourselves for there are the truths that must not be admitted even to the self. There are vistas that are never explored, thoughts that never see the light of the day and nostalgia that is never aired. There is a mask behind the face. I dare not peek behind the face because the only face I know is the one I see in the mirror. It is an image, this much I know, but this skewed sense of reality suits me better than a truth that leaves you with nowhere to hide.

So I don’t answer the question about her last visit, because every visit of her challenges me to rip off the face and spread my truths in a jumbled heap over the floor. I remember that every visit of her starts with a burning desire to ask her to leave. She doesn’t of course, like I said before I am a player; I cannot call curtains on her role and she loves to play it with flourish. Along the way, I get used to her presence, she grows on me like a second skin and I stop wanting her to go away. She doesn’t like it then, she values her freedom and this dependency does us both no good. “You cannot define your journey by your fellow travelers”, she says. “And you cannot define it by the milestones either…you arrive when you know that you could just stop where you are and know that you had a good journey so far”.

”Why do you single me out for a visit?” I ask her. “I get along quite well, when you are not around”. At this she laughs and it is a pretty sight. “Why do I visit you? Surely you must know the answer to that one”. I don’t really know and I tell her so. She lowers her voice and leans closer, “When you look into the mirror everyday, you see what you want to see, you ignore the worry lines, you ignore the soft spot on the cheek left by a dormant dimple, you don’t notice the gleam that has been hiding behind the far away look in your eyes. You get used to a familiarity that does not allow you to wipe the cobwebs off Time’s brush ”.

I am standing before the mirror as she says this and I turn around sharply to see how she can possibly see what my eyes have been hiding from me, all along. There is no one behind me. The door rocks ever so slightly in the gentle wind outside. As I run a trembling hand over my face, I hear a voice in the wind. “If I didn’t visit you every now and then, you wouldn’t know yourself, I exist to let you know that I will continue to define you as long as you let me. When you push me away and look for what is yours before I came along and coloured it for you, you will not need a mirror, you will not need anyone, anymore”.

I walk away from the mirror and see if she is outside somewhere, she is gone, like a breeze on a hot day, like a meteor on a winter night. Somewhere far away the wind whispers to itself and a barrage of leaves arrives at my feet. “Don’t fight me too hard”, her voice says strangely disembodied over the wind, “for while I may hurt you when around, you will be uncomfortable with yourself if I were not to cross your path every now and then. You call me a Memory but I can easily become Longing or Sorrow whenever you will allow me to”.

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