The One Step

The One Step
By M. Awais Aftab

Being in love is like being caught up in a ferocious whirlpool; you drift along with the waves: disoriented, lost and out of control. All you experience is the anxiety, the confusion and the panic of the moment. And yet, it has an addictive touch to it. It makes you believe as if you are really enjoying all this pain. There is nothing as bitter in retrospect as a broken heart. I am not even sure how it actually started; the memories are blurred. All I know is that despite all the potential social stigma a middle class girl from a bourgeoisie family like me could come to face, I found myself helplessly and madly in love. As I recall my past, I ask myself, whether what I did was right or wrong but there is nothing but silence for an answer.

As my unfortunate fate decreed, the ending of my tale was to be of far more interest than the actual story itself. And indeed, what would I tell if I were asked to narrate my account? For it was nothing but a stereotypical relationship; you will find it in every digest, every soap and every movie. It seems to me as if there is but one love affair which repeats itself mercilessly and endlessly in every person of the world. An eternal recurrence: the same roses, the same moon-fetching-and-star-breaking promises, the same poetry, and the same dedications of songs. You find it nauseatingly romantic? Perhaps it is, but all I know is that once you are into it, there is no turning back.
It was that misty winter evening in the park which woke me up from this foolish dream. Just as I saw his perturbed face, I knew that life was taking a turn. Just as when a river changes its course, it turns forests into deserts and wastelands into cities. Love too has such a power.
"I'm sorry," he said with a helpless expression, "My parents have refused to even consider you. I'm getting engaged to my cousin within this week." He lowered his gaze, as if he didn't have the courage to meet my eyes. Was it out of shame? Or pity? Or perhaps he was laughing in his heart, amused at what a fool he had made of me.
I was too dazed to answer. Silence was the immediate refuge. I kept staring at him in a shock. So, it's happened. How I had thoughtlessly dismissed the notion before that our love would not bloom, that it would not happen to us. The reality is eager to devour all such dreams, and it doesn't stay to explain itself. I don't know what he took my silence for, because suddenly, looking up, he said with a beaming optimism, "But we can still be friends!"
And this was the moment when the pain and trauma of the situation hit me. My emotions come out like a burst of hissing gas from a geyser. "What?" I stepped forward angrily and slapped him on the face. "You cheat and swindler! Who do you think I am? No, it is not all right! No, we cannot be friends! Relationships are not like clothes that can be taken off and changed at your whims and desires!" I stood there, breathing deeply and boring my eyes into him. How repulsive he looked standing there in disgrace. How could I have fallen in love with him? The subsequent silence was punctuated with loud inhalations and exhalations, ticking like a clock, serving to remind how much time had passed away.

"You disgust me," I said finally and walked away.

A friend of mine had once said that there is just a distance of one step between love and hate, just a multiplication by negative one. Now I knew what it meant.

[Published in Us Magazine today]


WritingsForLife said…
hmm i don't know if completely agree with your concluding statement. True that there is a fine line between love and hate, but love so deep cannot be substituted with hate all of a sudden. I suppose it would take a little more than that...
nevertheless, beautifully written! :-)
Kishore said…
A beautifully written piece. But I disagree with Raaji. That one step is definitely possible. Though impulsively sometimes.