One doesn’t realise the true weight of love until it is taken from them. Being young and moving on is way too simplistic compared to the ones at the end of their journey.
“Marked Memories” by Pooja Jonnalagadda is a monologue of a man who has lost his wife but is still living in the paradise of memories she left for him. The story shows how tragic it is to the ones who truly fell in love and lose them at the end of their journey when they are the only happiness left.
When your wife dies, you find everything around you feels different. The music, food, and movies suddenly feel tasteless. Your motivation to start your day is absent, and the desire to stay back in bed is whole. It feels like there is nothing to live for, or no force is left that pushes you forward. You are no longer seeking anything.
Every object reminds me of her, and everything has a story of its own with her. She is like a spirit that is everywhere, and I can often hear her voice in the house. Her sari, dupatta, pearl earrings, and every one of her possessions no longer has the same spark. Maybe they realised she was gone, or I felt so.
It feels heavy from my throat to my chest, absent of the love she gave me, and in this pain, I feel a sense of relief just by imagining her wrapped up around my arms, closer to my heart. At last, all that was left for me were those threads of memories, and all I could hold close to was the walking stick she gave me.
For me, she is everywhere. I can see her arranging the cabinet drawers with neatly arranged forks and spoons. She is the one reading the exquisite recipes from the cooking book and the one filling the freezer with food. A month passed since she left, and our house felt nothing but cold and spacious, no matter how I filled it.
Though our ages kept reminding us that the next day could be our last, none of us genuinely believed it to be until the day arrived. Even in our 60s, deep down, we think we have forever with our loved ones, but life doesn’t work like that.
With her absence, who would laugh out loud while I sip my coffee with sounds? Who would walk by the park to watch the sunsets or look at those stars at night? People always think of settling together, a future together, and these things have a certain level of intimacy, but it aches to the core when that togetherness breaks down when one leaves because we are so naive in love.
She used to refer to me as her first love and kiss me every night, and then went on to our children, who were our second love. She used to say whenever things get complicated “I would stand beside you,” and now all I wait for is to rest beside her burial.
I want to remember all the places, all those talks, all those moments with her because when I look back, I don’t recall myself standing alone. She’s always there with her bright smile. I can never forget the image of her waving at me near the window while I left for work and how she looked at me, making me feel special throughout my life.
I believe in a parallel universe, so if not here, I think I am still standing beside her, holding her hand and watching the sunsets, and maybe we are still young and have all the time we can.
This flash fiction is available in paperback & ebook.