I remember H. Unlike most in this city, I do remember her. H, in deep dissection may feel mean of a letter to resemble her; for her name was quite a grand one. But let us keep calling her H, in respect of what she lived for.
H resembled hope.And that clarifies my conscience recommending you to call her H.
I believe people should surrender themselves to the sheer act of remembering.But what inclines more is how we remember. “Faggot-blood”, Mrs.Nirupama Rao, the eldest in office would say of H. I wonder how talking such failed to materialise the decrease in her dignity as a renowned feminist, Not at least one bit. Some others like sweeper Rajan, one visible at the lowest level of pay scale hierarchy, one whom had been helped by H numerous times, would remember her another way.A remembrance scented and lined with sympathy. It’s his way of showing respect and gratitude. But certainly, H don’t deserve tears of sympathy. She deserves applause of admiration. Admiration for the justice she did to life.
Likewise, there profound a great deal of chance, that every mind knew H could remember her in unique, gaped ways. But I remember H as a symbol. A symbol of prevalence. A symbol of bravery. A symbol of sustainable credibility to ensure this society that H, for anything it stands for is not plain as its written. H is a loop. H is hope.
During old days, when our feelings were young, we used to sit along in private. Only perpetual monsoon wind and oranged evening sky were the visitors. One such evening, H showed an embroidery she had done.A bird in a cage.
‘You’re being pessimistic in your virtues’. I joked.
‘I am finishing another one, in which the bird break loose from the cage and fly to freedom. Reserve the judgement for then.’
But she didn’t finish it for a long time.
We did talk about books too. A very few rare evenings passed on without watching the duel over the books related to faith, and the subject. I’ve seen her buried deep in spiritual and religious books even during busy hours, when time ran a little slow for her alone. I can’t authenticate she was deemed with mysticism. But here and there, it was prominent that she compounded in herself a strong liability in divinity.
H was more or less a great poetess too.I remember the four lines she deliberately wanted me to read.
“The dawn, beats rouse for us,
defying the lurk of you and me.
and with dreams were the time,
loved turned master class.”
Reading her made me feel sane in every perspective. I felt more filled. I felt she completed me.
I’m not sure whether I loved H. But the stage was past mediocricity.There remained an obvious reliance of bond in thoughts reagrding her.More than my senses could define. And I’ve felt the delicacy in those thoughts too.
“Was it love”?, is a question still to put on. I’ve read, in love, no question is ever pertinent. But I ask back, In a question like this, Is love pertinent?.
But It was late-o-late before i came to knew about that answer.
When the news spread that she is HIV infected, the magnitude of majority including me filtered her from what she was the day before. Behind her, they cracked jokes of highly empowered insult. Murmered silent sympathy stanzas. Conjured gossips of no significance. People started calling her H, after the first of the 3 letter-ed abbreviation that then showcased her identity. HIV was a risk far more intensified to be shouldered than anything. I abducted my feelings and murdered them from reality. She turned out to be just an office girl, not to mention the label she was left alone with.
But she startled all of us. With perspective towards her worsened day by day, her hindernce towards it grew stronger in will. She wasn’t a girl who would simply adore the inevitable luxury of changing herself, no matter what. Fore and after she was diagonised with HIV, she reamined H. And being H sprinkled lumina over everything she was, everything one could say have made her of.
‘H, you make me afraid. Its atmost strange how you manage to live a life less scathed by changes, midst changes in people around you. Why you avoid for a break, although you had passed the phase of choices, choices to choose from two forms of life, indulgent?”.Once I asked her.
‘What difference does that change make, when not least it concerns me?’.She replied. ‘ Change is too high for me now. You know Rajan, our sweeper, who sympathise for me?, His wife?, His daughters?, His amma? They live a half life. People like them need change, not me.’
‘To hold on or change, is a matter of choosing’. H continued. ‘Holding on is a road less travelled. And I’ve decided in favour of this cause. You know why, dear. Reverberating the thoughts of leaving the old myself makes me aware, what I’m engulfed within is a fatal certainity. Or else, it is just a company till death. It does make me feel more like the fairies I read in childhood. Can you guess a more serene idea to behold in this time?’.
I forced a laughter with her’s. She had hope of a fairy end. She hadn’t changed.
And as days passed, her presence or absence felt less valuated. One day, H derived to the conclusion that her time has caught up. She resigned from the job. She retired from the apartheid we served for her. I feared an eye-to-eye conversation, and much to the fact, it happened.
She smiled straight across my face.
‘What will you do without me?, and what happens to the dream we had together?’
She asked and then she waited. And waited again. I forgot the relevancy to answer,intentionaly. May be the feeling I held for H, of which I blushed a great deal in the past, was completely out of me. Those feelings were then outlaws, as she was then.
A look into my eyes, and she knew the voice wasn’t coming. I think she believed what my answers would have been quite shameful to her thoughts.
‘I’m moving. Somewhere distant from my identity. Where my blood isn’t a faggot’s. Where I’ll be treated even. Where my words explore equal excitement as those of normal.’
I remember the last words of her farewell.
She wasn’t planning to change. She was waiting for the world to change.
When she left, She took her part of me too. Then, evenings weren’t windy, skies weren’t orangey and I thirstened for her poems. I felt far worse than lost. I felt hollow.
Five years after, I saw her again. I knew of her living from a newspaper. Now, she was teaching HIV infected children. The fatty figure of her had skinned to skeletons. The skin had roughened. Fairness lost to dullness.
‘You deserve better’. My wasted remorse couldn’t help but utter.
‘Better!’.She vivified.’I’m feeling better in here, by people treating me better. Or I convince myself so. I’m living the life I deserve. You remember the embroidery I promised?, I completed it. Now, the bird is free. Its liberated.’
‘This is my world now.And its an immortal feeling , not to put to words, that I endure by teaching these children’. I could vividly finger the trace of determination in her voice. Determination discovered from despair.
‘We are not HIV infected’. She continued. ‘We are affected by this wrong-resolute society. By its blashpemy, Its eyes upon us. Its quite ironical to thing who really is affected. We or the rest of the world? We’re living as we were before. Only the society changed its stance on us. They’re more prone to HIV, I guess.
‘At first I believed why god gave the misery to these small children. But then I understood god gave them a strong heart to thrive too. All it need is a simple training.I’m doing that.This world is a ruthless place for us. I ought to teach my children to be brave. I need to teach them defiance. I want to teach them hope.
She was defiant, and she hadn’t changed.
That was the last time I saw her. Next year, during monsoon winds, I read a poem of her published in a local magazine that barely sells out a thousand copies.
“I, come no more thicker and faster.
See world, the time had caught upon my flow.
And death, O’ death, only show kindness,
for that you may come and fade me like sleep”.
She knew, it was time.
I remember H. What was she?
When the times remembered of us together in effervescent eternity, she was love. Memorising the balance she performed over the moments between heights of HIV and depths of death, she was life. In age, when she pounded the strength to spread that glory to small children and others like her, she was H.
She was hope.
I’ve never came across her after that poem. So, I can’t authentically state that she is dead or alive. The subject of her mortality is still an uncertainty, and please, let me keep it that way.
You may ask me her real name. But I won’t say. Lighting her real name would be a disgrace to her life and would dismount the ideas illuminated. Please don’t ask me. All I can assure is that her name was too real and too beautiful. For now, lets keep calling her H.