There are nights I wake up in a haze. My eyes travel to your rocking chair at the end of the room. Is it truly rocking or is it my mind playing tricks? It is difficult to say in the dark of the night. I stare hard and long as if staring longer would make my heart’s wish come true – to see you rocking in it with a cigarette burning away between your fingers.

I can’t sleep any more than I can breathe. The unlikeliness of having you around chokes me. The living room expands but the walls close in. It is a phenomenon that feels strangely normal for the past 170 days. I am supposed to grow used to it but don’t. Mom says I must sleep with her in her bed; not out here alone.

Mom has grown odd. She doesn’t look at me. Not straight at least. She always said I had more of you in me than her. Maybe that’s what she sees – you. Maybe she hates herself for it. I can’t point a finger to it. But dad, I can tell you this – there are times I’ve found her staring at me and I can’t bring myself to look up at her. I’m scared of what I might see in those vacant eyes. And I don’t think I have the heart to unleash another disappointment at her.

Lonely is not even a word. I go out and meet people. I smile too. At times, I have laughed and soon was scared. Because I couldn’t recognize that laughter. Was I still me? I know there’s a part of me that died with you but why does the leftover debris feel unfamiliar? I stare longer at reflections of me, on glass panes, in the glass of water that waits on my lips, on the empty bottles that lay idle on the kitchen counter.

It’s then that I realise that I am not looking at the woman. In fact, I am not even expecting her there. I want the one who resides behind my face, hiding at the back of those prominent features, peeking from behind my eyes, at people, when I am not looking, the one who I am a part of; one who is gonna live in me forever.

~~~~~

Asha Seth