Souvenir | Aishwarya Roy Beyond the Panorama March 19, 2021

Souvenir | Aishwarya Roy

Wandering through the aisles of a second-hand bookstore, I catch a whiff of a perfume, very familiar.

“Are you ready?”

Words barely escaped my mouth, when you kickstarted the yellow vespa. We rode on dusty roads, with outstretched arms — listening to the notes played from the violin of a man in an underground tunnel.

Blue skies and airplane trails. Children made soap bubbles; the lovers stole kisses. The greens of the meadows were preparing for summers. And we — we were like dandelion seeds released to the wind; two little daisies in a vast field of roses. We spent the afternoon writing letters to the ocean, and the stars; reading the goosebumps on our flesh, like Braille. My jhumkas dangled, as I danced around whirlwind woods against the beat of the 50’s pop song, playing from the Lana Del Ray mixtape you had made me.

I bought some 𝘔𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘢, to wear in my hair and 𝘎𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘢 𝘗𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘭, to paint myself yellow, so that the next time I look into a mirror, I compare myself to the sunlight. We built a home, made up of fresh 𝘎𝘶𝘭𝘣𝘢𝘩𝘢𝘳, where we would speak in the language of jaggery and honey, cry ocean waves, and smoke dried roses. We started looking like summers already.

Today, you and I are at the highest point of a ferris wheel. We open bottles of our past and share glasses of liquid sunsets, as time collapses into one tiny speck. Hearts leap clumsily into the custody of lovers, out of a yearning, while watching the purple tones of the sun setting on their blurred faces.

Still in stillness. Quiet in quietness. Abstraction in blank spaces, we take no form. Bereft of any breath, I sit down and rest my head on your arm. We talk about favourite songs, family problems, and think about how the earth was made. Nothing grand. But in the little moments one tends to ignore, our missing pieces started filling up, blissfully unaware to the fact that we have secretly found a roadmap to home.

The pitch-black curtain slowly draped over the sky, and the stars made twisted, warped shapes against the blackness. The citylights started glistening like fallen stars.

Tonight, we hug our fears good night across the bakery on the crossroads, and navigate in the dark, as if the map to the city is etched on our minds. No classy dinner date, a long gown, a dozen candles or a single long-stemmed rose. No scarlet lips, nor a perfect smile. But a rooftop, cloaked in partial darkness; barefeet, dangling legs, and windblown hair.

Tonight nobody is watching as we walk; the shadows of two colloquial hearts tangling, bare. Petrichor lurking in thin air. Tonight nobody is watching as we dance; to no music, to nothing but the beat of our own hearts, across every street and boulevard, as the lamp posts paint us neon.

/𝘩𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴, 𝘮𝘪𝘥-𝘑𝘶𝘭𝘺,

𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘥/

I took all our memories, and pressed them inside my old diary. You took all my jagged edges and broken pieces home, and placed them on your window sill, as if they were some kind of souvenirs.

And no sooner did we part our ways, than we realised, we’ve left pieces of our hearts, scattered like confettis, in all the places we went to.

Maybe the summer city, too, likes to keep a warm little souvenir of us.

Written by Aishwarya Roy

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