Kathmandu doesn’t flinch
when I openly flirt with Patan and Pokhara.
He doesn’t show any sign of envy or anger,
he pretends not to notice.
But when the night comes
and the cities are fast asleep,
Kathmandu slides into my bed and hugs me tightly.
“When I closed my door for you,
I didn’t want you to go and open your heart
to the next city you meet,”
I wanted you to explore the world,
experience new thing,
meet New York,
have a summer fling with San Francisco,
have a one night stand with Istanbul
and possibly settle down with London.”
Before I could protest,
he kissed me softly,
making me change my mind.
Kathmandu knows me too well.
Kathmandu knows me too well.
Mother always used to tell me, “Be careful who you choose to love.” I used to shrug her off, as if it’s a choice. Love for me, always happened just like that. You can’t choose who you fall for, you don’t get to decide who your heart wants.
But you see, mothers are always right. Right now, I think what she meant was not to be careful who I fell in love with, but who I decided to stay with. Because staying in love, in a relationship, in a place is always a choice. You can’t choose who you’ll fall in love with, but you can always decide whether you want to stay or move on.
So now I tell myself, be careful who you stay in love with; don’t let a weak soul destroy your strong heart.
“How can you let go of people easily?” he asked.
“By giving them time and space, when they are sad. By not asking them what’s happening time and again when they say they don’t want to talk about it. By trying not to worry about them when they tell you not to do so. By realizing that you’re not important or close to them as you thought to be, after all people do share what happened when things go wrong no matter how closed off they are.
And every time, you feel like you’re starting to get worried, distract yourself. Read books – on loss, on happiness, on moving on. Watch a new tv series or movies – tragic, comedy, action. Go on vacations – with your family, other friends or alone. Take classes – dance, ceramics, kickboxing. Learn about politics, science and development. Attend events. Meet new people. Make new friends. Experience the world. Write about these experiences. Share them with your other friends.
And finally, resolve to start fresh.
So that when you meet them next time, you will realize that you’ve grown, and evolve into something else. Something they won’t be able to relate with. And when you talk to them, you will realize that they no longer understand who you are and who you’ve become. And you are a perfect stranger to them. That’s how you can let go of people easily. Because if someone isn’t ready to share what’s bugging them, if someone needs time and space from you during the bad times, then know that you never mattered enough at the first place.”
“Who are you waiting for?” she asks.
I take a good look at her face. Her dark brown hair is tied up in a bun, but not in the way you usually see those young girls of her age do it. Her tied bun looked more like maa’s hair tied into a bun. There are a few strands frizzy and dried, flying off as if they are naked wires, searching for plugs. I laugh remembering how mother always complained that she looked like a grandmother from behind when she tied her bun like that. She must be looking like one even now. My eyes fall on her forehead. It is covered with tiny indistinct spots, almost invisible if you aren’t concentrating hard enough. There are dark bags hanging below her eyes because she had lost sleep for a couple of weeks. Although a sleep lover, she’d been refusing to sleep for some unknown reasons to both of us. Her nose is sunburned and a little tanned than the rest of her skin. There are light speckles and scars in her face. Sometimes, I feel like if I looked hard enough I could find more furrows. But right now, she looks tired and worried. Even as she looks straight back at me, I somehow feel that she is looking beyond me, searching for answers, seeking escape, looking for a way out. She is tired and worried.
“You,” I finally say with a sigh. “It’s time for you to come home.”
Because I’ve realized that even the girl in the mirror needs a reminder of the love you have for her. Especially during time like this.
Disappointment tastes like Americano turned cold because you were too busy writing on your notebook about how you like your coffee, when you should have been drinking it. “I like my coffee the way I like my men” you used to say, “strong, dark and bitter.” But turns out you don’t really like its taste after the coffee has gone cold. Halfway through your cold bitter coffee, you almost want to give up. Which is when you also start to wonder why you ever loved the bitter coffee at the first place.
Of course you still love your coffee bitter, stronger, and darker. And of course you don’t mind at times, when it starts turning cold as you listen to your just-arrived-from-months-and-months-of-traveling friend. Or as you talk to your love who proclaims that he can’t seem to concentrate on anything anymore but somehow remembers every single word you wrote on your last assignment.
Only when you are alone, sipping the dark brown coffee as you read an email from your sister, does the coffee taste more bitter. The helpless weighs down on you as you read about how her lover refuses to seek help for his depression. And only when you are alone in a cafe full of lovers and best friends, laughing, whispering, and holding each other, you realize that your coffee is not how it used to be.
But it’s Your coffee and nothing has really changed. It is as strong as it was before – when you had a company. It is as bitter as it was when you were happy. It is as dark as it was when, both, you and your coffee were warmer.
It’s your choice that has changed. And that’s exactly what disappointment tastes like. That there is no one to blame but you, for letting your coffee turn cold as you were too busy focusing on your life instead of enjoying it.