‘ Its not you, its me.” We have all heard this line before. It is the world’s old cliché. It is the simplest way of bitch slapping a person without being called a swiney toad or something equally horrid. But this is what exactly what I got after 3 years of relationship with Zac.
It happened a few hours back. It was raining heavily and I was running back home with the groceries in my arms. Running because I thought walking would be a good exercise and I would be able to enjoy the lovely breeze which is of course turned into a raging storm.
Anyway, rain or no rain I was excited about dinner as Zac was back from his work trip. He wanted to meet up and talk, so we decided dinner was the best option.
I was planning on cooking his favorite- lamb. The recipe which I had perfected in these three years though I am a vegetarian. Now, I can work it without even stopping to think twice about the ingredients.
To add spice to the lovely dinner at home, I had dolled up in a red dress that showed off my curves perfectly. I know he likes it when I show off. I wore my tallest pair of heels, put on a little make up with a splash of bright red lipstick and poured myself some wine to pass my time until Zac arrived.
Zac came. But what he brought with him wasn’t exactly a bouquet of flowers. It was a load of crap, to be specific. It left behind days of grief, depression and a huge urge to eat buckets and buckets of Belgian chocolate ice cream instead of the healthy meals, which I always made a point to cook no matter how hard I slogged at work.
Now, I am sitting alone in my apartment, staring at the delicious looking lamb, smeared make up and a broken heart. Not able to talk, not able to take in what happened a few hours ago and all I could think about was how this could happen to me. Me, the best editor at the most reputed publishing house in all of London. With all the efforts I put in, with all the hard work I did to perfect this recipe, all I get is a measly, sickly line of an excuse.
It wasn’t even an excuse. It was just a way of getting me to walk away without creating much of a scene as he packed up his stuff and moved out of the apartment. “Our” apartment. As he picked up his bags and left his key behind in the bowl, all I could do was sit and stare at the wall filled with pictures and pictures of us, the “us” that now had become me and him. This wall had memories from the day we met, just because Zac was a photographer and believed that he could capture any moment in a pictures.
But was this a moment to be captured. To a photographer it would be appealing to capture such grief but for me, the editor, everything spelled itself out in words, words that brought flood of tears.
Maybe it was life’s way of fun, to see the eyes that could make anybody cry, bring up drops and drops of hurtful heart wrenching tears. And all I could do was go along with it and let myself fall apart.
“Come on, Amy”, “Drink up girl”, “You beat that pretentious little drunk”, “Show him who’s boss” was all I could hear in the bar.
It was the party after the graduation of the class of 2010. We , my friends and me, made our way to our tiny, but favourite bar______________ to celebrate the achievements. After years and years of studying, making projects, grazing books in the library and having dark holes where my eyes should be I had finally done it. I had graduated and could finally start making a mark on the world, working towards my one and only dream of becoming the top editor at ‘ The Wardrobe Writers’.
All I had to do then was start concentrating on working myself to the bone to achieve my childhood dream of providing the world with the books people would read and feel the love, joy and sadness of the characters. . But before that, I could give myself this significant night to celebrate the achievement of my first step towards the dream come true.
And as usual the competitor in me had brought herself a challenge within an hour of hanging out at the bar. And, the glorious challenge was to beat the sexy hot bod sitting opposite me in a drinking game.
The challenge was pretty simple, we would take shots of tequila turn by turn , stand up and walk around the bar back to the table. The one to fall to the floor first would pay for all the booze.
Slowly, with every walk around the bar we had captured the attention of everybody sitting there and thus, the cheering started. Bets were placed. The music was tuned down and everybody forgot everything else for the duration of the game. It was like a underground tournament where spectators come to cheer their favourite player.
Standing in between this spectacle were Zac and me. Yes, that’s where we had met three years ago. My friends and I walked up to the bar and there he was, all 6 feet of him, looking all handsome , charming and charismatic. For obvious reasons, all the women in the bar had noticed the same thing. So, I decided to give his charms a slip because whatever I wanted to do on my graduation night did not involve sitting and gawking at a stranger in a bar for the night.
Sitting in our corner we all discussed our future plans. Where we would apply, who’d get the best job, who’d do what. Turned out everybody knew my dream to the core. Apparently, I repeated it a over and over or as my friends put it I would tell anybody within earshot about it.
When it was my turn to order drinks, I went to fetch a bottle of tequila for the table. Now that I was holding a huge bottle filled with the precious fiery liquid, there was no way I wasn’t going to trip, which I did, on my own shoe too. Yes, it is possible to trip on you r own stilettos when you are so drunk.
Anyways, that’s a different story altogether. THIS was the exact moment the stranger at the bar had walked into my life , held me steady, and said “It looks like someone is going in for a shot war.” To which my friends cheered and suddenly Zac and I were standing opposite each other, shot glasses in hand. By the end of it we were both so drunk that we did not care who won. But, turns out the whole bar did and when Zac fell trying to get off his stool after what seemed like his umpteenth shot, there erupted a loud cheer from the whole bar and I was hauled up the bar to claim my victory, which it turned out I did and then fell into the crowd.
The next morning I woke up with a flash. No, it is not a figure of speech, I actually woke up to Zac clicking a picture of me. After all the drinking and falling, my friends thought it was a good idea to invite Zac and his friends over. Zac was out for the night like me. It was this picture of me that Zac had enlarged and framed when we moved in together and it still hung as a centerpiece on our wall of picutres. Our moments.
Every time I looked at any of the pictures in the apartment all I could do was cry and not just small sobs and tears, it all started afresh. I cried loudly, tears streaming down my face, a stuffy nose and above all a red face. I know I am an ugly crier but now I can’t help it. It hurts too much.
I haven’t gone to work for three days in a row now. I had called in sick and my boss said I could take all the time I need and should be back feeling rejuvenated and ready for some action. But, I still feel like I can’t get my miserable self out of bed. I haven’t answered any calls, haven’t replied to any messages and haven’t cooked any food. All I’ve done is, drive to the store, pick up some ice cream- only ice cream and back to my bed, or the couch whichever seems to be within two steps of reach.
I have been meaning to call Meg, my best friend, my boyfriend-trasher since high school but I am still not able to get over the fact that Zac dumped me and I am still living in hope that he will return.
Buuzzzzz. Open up Amy! Buzzzz. Someone is breaking down the buzzer. As I walk towards the buzzer, with a headache, after my evening nap- which is my routine for the past few days, I cringe as I recognize the voice. It is Meg. I knowit is rude, but, I wasn’t expecting her so soon.
As soon as I hear her voice I know she is here. She has got a whiff of me and Zac breaking up and she is here to do what she does best. Roadroll over every memory of my ex-boyfriend so that I move on with my life and start over.
But I don’t want it, not so fast. It’s not even been a week of mopping and she is already here. I also know her first plan of action, she’s going to tear down my wall of pictures, my wall of memories.
Maybe, I could just ignore it, avoid the buzzing sound and later on tell her that I wasn’t home when she came around. I would cook up some excuse. After all I am best editor in whole of London.
As I started walking back to my room the buzzing stopped and I somehow felt relief wash over me, thinking that Meg was gone. But this isn’t Meg, no way. After a few minutes of there comes a loud banging at my door, it turns out, my neighbor, a lovely lady of 65 had let Meg on the pretext of my safety and now Meg is pounding on my door swearing and threatening.
I finally open the door to the World’s Most Ferocious Drama Queen.
“Hey Meg, what a surprise!” ‘ you can cut the crap and let me in’ is all she said and walks inside the room which lay in such a mess that even my mother, a total cleanliness freak, wouldn’t come near it.
But Meg went straight to target, The Picture Wall. This isn’t happening, I cant let her take away my lovely memories like this, I have to stop her and I will. “Oh no! NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. you are not doing this. It is all staying where it is. These are the best moments of my life and no one can take them way. No one. I wont allow it.” And all she has to say is ‘ Watch me.’
And I had to. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I pleaded and tired to put the pictures back on the wall, she came and took them right off, put them in a box and slid it by the door. I know it is no use arguing with her, she will continue doing what she is here to do, so, I am doing what I can. I am sitting on the sofa and crying. And again, it was not soft sobs and silent tears. I will never understand how women manage to cry like that.
I couldn’t, even if I tried and all that is coming out is shriek howls that could scare anyone in the dark. Seriously, anybody.
So here I am, sitting and howling on the sofa and here is Meg, standing in the kitchen, making coffee for both of us. By the time she came over with the coffee I have already managed to swell up my bloodshot eyes, like that of a frog and have reddened my nose, which could now compete with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’s nose. But this in no way stops me from continuing my regimen I have set for myself. Meg sits next to me, holding me tightly in her arms and passing me one tissue after another from the tissue box.
After hours and hours of sobbing, on my part only, and feeling totally washed out of energy we just sit there silently staring at the now empty wall and as provocative as Meg is, she knows what to do next.
‘Alright, you’ve officially cried your eyes out for the past three days, have eaten all the ice cream you could, but, now it is time to move your ass we have a wall to decorate.’ And as I stare at her with an expression full of sadness coupled with what the hell are you talking about.
‘Oh, come on! Do you really think I will let you wallow in your sorrows over loosing that asshole. He wasn’t even worth a day which I could’ve taken care of if you had enough sense to call me.’
I know Meg will not listen to any sorry excuses I have to offer so I have to do as she says, get my sorry ass off the sofa and walk towards the bathroom. ‘ And while you are at it, take a shower as well, you smell like you just stepped out of a garbage can.’ Such words of encouragement.
Though I know she is kidding to try and get a different reaction from me. I can’t think of any satisfactory rhetorical remark, so I just agree and carry on walking to the bathroom.
By the time I come out of the shower, Meg has found a trash bag and has rid half the living room of the tissues and ice cream tubs, which had temporarily found a home in some place or the other around the sofa.
‘There’s bacon, toast and eggs on the counter with some orange juice for you, eat up and we can leave.’
“But that’s breakfast and it is past lunch time and why are we leaving? Where are we going? What are you up to?” All I can say before she looks at me like a crazy person with a menacing grin on her face.
‘I made you breakfast because I believe that you have just woken up after three whole days or just lying around and also because those were the only item I could find in the refrigerator besides your personal stash of Belgian Chocolate. Now eat up.’
I can do nothing but follow the instructions and instantly started feeling a bit more upbeat. The shower and food worked their trick on me. As I was eating the food, Meg was clearing out the apartment, most of the stuff covering my floor, sofa, coffee table and bed.
‘ So what will it be, something bold and beautiful or something soft and cozy.’ We are standing in a hardware store in the paint aisle. “Why can’t we let the wall be the shade it is. Pearly white looks so perfect in the setting.”
Meg rolls her eyes at me, like she always does when she knows she is right and I am just procrastinating.
‘Oh please! As if you like it. Amy, the whole world knows you love color. You are the one who always suggested unusual combinations which everyone would refuse, but you’d paint them anyway and the outcome would be so pretty that we’d throw a party just to flaunt the new paint job.’
‘Now Amy, focus. I know there must be a new combination you are dying to try in that boring, old lady living room of yours.’
“It is not boring. Don’t look at me like that. The room looks beautiful as it is and we just re did it a few months ago. It is Zac’s favorite place in the house.” And with that, the pain was back and the tears on the verge of falling, when a trolley bumped into me and one of it’s front tyres made their way over my toes.
‘Hey! Watch it.’ Meg called out and the stranger turned to look at us and saw the tire half way up my left foot. “Oh My God! I am so sorry. Does it hurt? Are you alright? Did I break something? Don’t cry, please don’t cry. Will you be able to walk? Do you wish to sit down? I am so so sorry.”
I can’t help it anymore, the guy was so apologetic, his expressions so pained that I Just can’t hold it in anymore, it was too much. I burst out laughing. Meg and the stranger stared at me bewildered, not knowing the reason for the sudden outburst when I was at the brink of crying a few seconds ago.
“Is your friend ok? You think we should take her to the hospital or something for her foot?” The stranger kept on talking but Meg wasn’t listening anymore. She had just been struck with an idea and is already planning to put it into action. She looked at the stranger up and down and a smirk spread across her minx-like face.
‘Oh no, she is ok. I don’t think we need to take her to the hospital for now. But, it would be great if you left your card with us and we can call you just in case there is a problem later.’ Meg said blinking those mischief filled angelic eyes. She could be the most innocent of people, or at least look the part, when she wanted to.
The stranger agreed and gave her his card without a second thought, which she very carefully kept in her wallet.
“Well, I should moving on or I will be late, are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital to get yourself checked?” He asked me again, concern still reflecting in his big eyes and all I can do is refuse and say Thank you between burst after burst of giggles.
After he left, Meg gave me a curious look- ‘Having fun?’ She asked with a raised eyebrow and the same smile she had on her face earlier.
“oh meg, it was just so funny. He was such a sweetheart and worried so much, even though he hadn’t hurt me much, he wanted to take me to the hospital. The way he was looking at me with those huge puppy dog eyes and crinkled forehead I felt as if he was not gong to listen to us and force me into an ambulance and rush me off to the emergency room, just because his trolley rolled up on my toes.”
And we both start laughing right in the middle of the aisle and none of us able to stop. People stared while trying to get across from us. ‘Ok, OK. Let’s focus now. We are hereto find you some paint for your living room. What do you want- lively or cozy?’
In about two hours we had chosen paint, rollers, brushes, various other tools and now are sitting in our favorite Chinese restaurant waiting for our chopsuey and dimsums.
‘What do you want to do after? Go get drunk, shake a leg and hit on guys or do you want to stay in, watch one of your favorite romantic comedies.’ Asked meg sipping her wine.
“How about we get home and go straight to bed?” I don’t know what fuel she runs on the way she keeps jumping from task to task one after the other without so much as a second thought.
‘I am sorry., but this is not an option presented on the table. It is either clubbing or movie- take your pick.’
I knew this was coming and there was no way she was letting me get away with it so we agreed on watching movies at home while holding popcorn and spreading ourselves on the couch.
age range-16 to 40 years,
author name- Ashima Narwal,
target audience-young adults,
hometown-Rohtak, Haryana, India