The cupboard was a mess.
“Oh god... I married a slob”, Shalini sighed. She didn’t know where to start. But start somewhere, she had to. She had to make space for her own stuff till they got a new cupboard.
She started pulling out some of Amar’s clothes that were lying in a crumpled mass and put them on the bed. “How hard is it to fold the clothes!”, she muttered. She folded them all and put them back neatly, utilizing the space properly, and making space for her clothes.
“Ok, so that’s done!” An hour and a half later, she had managed to make the cupboard look like a civilized person’s. She then moved on to the smaller wall-cupboard and opened it to see whether there was anything in there to be that could be trashed. One look at the shelves and she knew it was a lost cause. “Forget it. I’ll deal with this another day”, she said, closing the door.
And that’s when she spotted it. In the small shelf where Amar kept his toiletries. A small tin of talcum powder. She looked at it for a few seconds, wondering whether or not to pick it up.
But without even picking it up, she knew what it smelt like. She knew the fragrance. The subtle whiff of sandalwood. He used to use the same powder. For her, the fragrance was synonymous with him.
Him... wow.. she hadn’t thought about him for quite a while. She hadn’t had the time, frankly. It had been a crazy few weeks. But that wasn’t the only reason. She had tried very hard to shut all thoughts of him away. It hadn’t been easy. There were days when the pain and the hurt had got so intense, it hurt her physically- a dull, thumping ache in her heart. She could actually feel it. Wasn’t it better to shut away someone who had caused her that much pain? But if only it was that easy.
She had loved that fragrance on him. She used to find it homely, comforting, erotic- all at the same time. Sandalwood had never really been her favourite scent till then.
For a long time after they split, the smallest of triggers was enough to set her off. A song, a place, a dialogue, a joke. And she would be a pile of mess in an instant. That was all it took. Once, her friend mentioned that she’d spoken to him, and that he’d laughed, and out of nowhere, she could hear his laughter. Just like that. That deep-throated laughter that used to bring butterflies to her stomach. That night, she’d cried for the first time in weeks. And felt guilty for having had no trouble at all in remembering what his laugh sounded like. Guilty because she was to be married in a few months to a wonderful guy. But it’s not like she’d purposely remembered his laughter. It had come to her just like that.
So she’d tried hard to shut him out.
She tentatively reached for the powder tin. “No! Don’t do it!”, her inner demon admonished her. “You know you’ll end up thinking of him and crying. You know it.” She picked up the tin and flipped the lid back, and took in the fragrance.
And she waited. Waited for his face to appear in her mind’s eye. Waited for the tears to come. Waited for the breakdown to happen.
Instead, she found herself smiling; smiling. remembering how she had been so madly, passionately, crazily in love at one time; how alive she had felt at the time; at how wonderful it had felt to love without a care in the world, to love without knowing what the future held, without knowing whether or not there was a future, without analyzing where it was going; how incredible it had felt to make love to someone with so much passion; how special he used to make her feel with the smallest of gestures.
She smiled fondly, remembering how happy she had felt at one time. The hurt, the pain, the anger- all that seemed to have gotten overshadowed. And just then she realised, that she was going to be ok.
The trick was to stop associating memories with people, and start associating them with feelings- of how you felt at a particular time. Maybe, just maybe, that might make everything ok...