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  • Writer's pictureNiranjana

A fabricated fable

“So you're always honest," I said. "Aren't you?"

"No," I told him. "I'm not."

"Well, that's good to know, I guess."

"I'm not saying I'm a liar," I told him.

He raised his eyebrows.

"That's not how I meant it, anyways."

"How'd you mean it, then?"

"I just...I don't always say what I feel." "Why not?"

"Because the truth sometimes hurts," I said.

"Yeah," he said. "So do lies, though.”

It was the summer of 2004- the hottest one in the last few years, and I remember it vividly by the dozens of extra mangoes on the tree at my neighbor’s ramshackle.

The rumble of the old table fan by the bedroom of our Syrian Christian one storied made for constant background score.

A summer where Amma kept the family cool with glasses and glasses of spiced buttermilk and evening walks by the park, a summer where achan spent long sunny hours snoozing out on our old porch, and one where I finally managed to get my braces off and shed a few pounds of the board exams binge weight.

He was a boyfriend’s elder brother- An initial conceited chuckle on the phone, a pointed rumble in the background of a two hour long phone call and by and by- a chat buddy who took over his brother’s messenger, nicknamed me his ‘nut’ and eventually his place. We were cautious, or maybe we weren’t. it didn’t matter that there was more than a decade old age gap. In the summer of 2004, it felt like just the right thing to do.

We didn’t do first dates, or movie dates or hold hands. He was too unflappable for that- and I did everything I could to keep up my end of the bargain. He called me naïve as he played with my hair on a late summer afternoon by the steps of my home. “One day, I’m going to turn on you, get into wedlock and that’s going to crush you…”

I smiled and nodded. Indeed.

Summer ended all too fast, and so did the passion. He had to leave the country and I had to leave middle school. Different borders being crossed, lines once drawn being hastily retraced.

A few days passed, and a few more. A letter from Shanghai arrived.

He’d surprisingly kept up his side of the bargain.

As for me- that summer was a closed chapter in time, an experiment on first grown up love. But I did keep up my end of the sham and the fable continued.

A few more months, several calls from so many shores around the world- some tainted with stories of women with cherry blossom mouths and thick locks. But he missed me. I listened \to his long lonely rants from the last step of my stairway. He had two hours of phone time. He always spent one hour on me.

Two summers passed, and then a few more. I grew up, left my nest and moved on (and away). He didn’t. He came back for me one day. Nothing had changed since 2004 for me, he said.

Me too, I replied (blithely). We spent the evening talking, plotting the fabled future.

Then we went our separate ways.

The allegory continued. Year after year, maybe a few breaks here and there, he always came back. The promise didn’t change.

I wonder which of us the naïve one is.

The castle of lies keep building up, and a virtual world shaped

It has been 15 years since that summer. The mangoes at the ramshackle still bear fruit, but I’m far away from that side of the country. But a long scorching summer brings back those memories spent on the last step of my old house.

My phone suddenly blinks, and there’s a message from him.

And the faulty fable continues.

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