Listless, he sat up on his bed as the nightmares metamorphosed into sweat beads slowly dripping over his visage. Every single night he had been haunted...haunted by a past that seemed so painful to him, that a hurt in the present would not cause the same agony as this arcane throbbing that emanated from his core and resonated through his body. His arms reflexively wrapped around himself to try and weather the shivers that rocked him to the bone.
That delicate necklace on his bedside table seemed to taunt him…an ugly token...a memoir that he so wished to do away with and yet knew somehow, somewhere a part of his soul lay embedded in it. The fear of losing himself, his sanity was the reason the ornament stayed where it was. Innumerable were the times when he had held it in his hands and felt her pulse...the strange thrumming inside him as if she were right there around him, beside him...cocking her head to one side as she always did while looking at him...and then disintegrated into mist right before his eyes. His ears still rung from the scream she let out when that semi hit her car.
He shut his eyes tight as if to block out the heart-wringing vista that had been imprinted in his memory...as if his mind, his soul had been branded by time; a sigil left so clear that its purpose seemed to persist till eternity. He staggered up from the bed, holding out an arm to prop himself up against the wall. Alcohol hadn't helped either. Initially it was faithful to its promise of blunting the edges of the blade that cut into his core. But, with time, the addiction rose and the remedial value perished to unknown depths. All that the numerous swigs of liquor achieved were a burning sensation as the liquid coursed down his innards and the total nonchalance and disregard for the present state of events. His bedraggled appearance too, didn't perturb him whenever the mirror was bestowed a rare and involuntary glance.
This wasn't a battle to regain lost time...it wasn't a fray whose goal was to forget...The real struggle was to comprehend the situation. It seemed an insurmountable challenge for him to let go...that life beyond her, beyond their time could hold meaning, could hold substance...could actually be worth living! And yet there was the burning desire to break away, to hold true to the ideals that they both had practiced, that they had been so happy to share and find in common...the ideals of independence. The fact that life with or without someone always had something to teach them...there was always a mystic value attached to things that only a keen eye could discover and decipher. Constant replays of their conversations over seemingly random subjects ran over and over in his ears, impossible to shut out...her voice soothing, and yet carrying with it the realization that was all there was left of her - her voice...her touch...her face; all in his memories. By now he had lost count of the number of lifelike scenes that re-staged themselves inside him, their vividness mesmerizing him, drawing him within himself, such that the entanglement was beyond solution. Such that the interlaced thread of memories bound him tight unwilling to set him free.
On wobbly feet, he dragged himself to the kitchen and took deep swallows of cold water from the refrigerator. The liquid sizzled down his warm skin as the beads of sweat intermingled with water and streaked away to nothingness. His gaze fell on to the make-shift garden that had adorned their apartment until some time ago. The barren soil broke his heart as the dim moonlight inter-playing with the melancholy darkness of the night brought back nostalgic visions of flourishing plants and saplings. The night cast bizarre shadows across the small open space and he could almost see her flitting around caressing the once blooming roses and geraniums. He swiped his calloused hand across his face in a desperate attempt to ward away the alluring phantasm and was surprised to see the back of his palm come away wet. Tears were a rarity with him...had always been.
As if an epiphany had occurred, he stood straight, defiant, willing the hurt to subside. He strode over to his bed-side and gingerly picked up the necklace, the familiar symptoms of her being materializing around him. He grasped it firmer and pushed himself towards the garden. The austere small space had suddenly seemed a metaphor for his soul which was starkly desolate, devoid of all human touches, of emotions. He dug into the soil without a care as the hard clumps broke his skin bruising, scraping him, digging a deep hole into the soil. He took a final look at her last memoir, shut his eyes tight to imprint it into his memory, and shoved it into the hole! He piled back the soil that he had dug out and fell back on the ground. Somewhere inside a dam seemed to have broken as tears fell freely on the hard ground, staying as a drop for an ephemeral instant and then disappearing as the soil yielded and absorbed them. His soul was transmuting into something similar, the pain was being absorbed and was disappearing somewhere inside...releasing him of the barbed emotional bonds that had bound his heart and hurt him with every debilitating beat.
He stood up and found a trowel from the corner-shed. Getting to his knees he started digging the soil around the spot where their life lay, metamorphosed into a material trinket that somehow held every moment inside its metallic countenance! Tears and sweat welled up and streaked down as he furiously dug in and in a few hours the entire place was ready for a new beginning. This would again be the garden that once was...and so would his soul. He would nourish it back to health with her memories and ensure it stayed happy. Because somewhere, he knew she would be happy to see him that way too! The first glowing rays of the dawn nodded their approval and a hint of smile played on his face after a long time.