It's December and I remember woollen sweaters heaped on a bench. An empty classroom. Bits of eclectic sounds are floating in from somewhere. Kids have gone to the playground for their Physical Education class. The mellow light of Winter morning is gleaming through the glass window. I just pop in to take off my sweater which I mistakenly thought I'd be needing in the class. I come in. I halt. The room, usually bursting with activity, sits so quietly now that it feels almost unearthly.
It's December and in the middle of the night, I remember that I could never make it back to the playground.
It's December and I remember changing my clothes in the classroom upstairs. I'll go to my tutor straight from school. Carefully, I fix my hair. It's difficult to carry a pocket mirror in school and not get caught. But it's worth the risk. 'He' will be there today. Intoxicated by a dream, I reach the window. Little boys from the neighbourhood are flying kites. Kites in December. And that's what makes me feel a sense of kinship with those children. I'm carrying a mirror where I'm not supposed to and they're flying kites when they're not supposed to. Our little acts of rebellion tie us together today, even though they remain oblivious of it. Kites soar high and I stare as they get ready to be lost in the clouds.
It's December and in the middle of the night, I remember that my eyes are still following the kites, hoping for miracles to happen halfway through heaven, a miracle greater than him taking notice of me.
It's December and I remember struggling for my breath in a crowded bus. The bus would've looked so dead, with so many dead-faced adults on board, but for the two of us. Pritha tells me about the boy she knows will end up becoming another lost story. But, she won't stop. She shouldn't, I tell her. On my way back, I'm alone. Pritha's sunflower-like smile is replaced by a dull yellow light. The boy I loved first gets in. We avert our eyes. But I see him, oh I see him so closely, so hungrily!
It's December and in the middle of the night, I remember that all this time I've been journeying to and fro on that bus, that damned bus bearing the number 'two'.
It's December and I see heads huddled up together. Pens and sheets of paper here and there. Soft humming, abrupt laughters. Sukriti's voice rises above the din. Anwesha beats the bench in perfect symphony. The others join in. Within the blink of an eye, the darkness of Winter turns unfathomably deep. We get drunk on something we don't comprehend but we love. From the chorus, a few lines hit me.
"আমি কালারে হারায়ে তেমন
ওইরূপ হেরি এ দর্পণে..."
It wrenches my heart. If this oneness isn't real, then let love too remain untrue, unachievable. And I vaguely feel that I've let this real world consume me so much that I can no more feel this unison ever. I'm too real to ever be in this love. The song ends. Another one begins -
"বাউলা কে বানাইল রে হাসন রাজারে?"
My Goodness! I'm too real to be mad in love as well!
It's December and in the middle of the night, I remember that I'm still stuck in that classroom as if it were a thick forest and fighting those lyrics like one fights wild beasts, draped in blood, thinking that maybe I'll never be able to love.
The year trudges to its end, a sudden end of another chapter. It doesn't hurt me anymore. I too have left behind my own self in too many unfinished stories, haven't I? Now I'm fragmented, lost. I exist in millions, most of which I don't remember anymore.
So I turn the pain of being lost into poetry. I revel when my wounds bleed. I love it all until December comes. I don't celebrate holidays anymore but old habits die hard. I look back at my way home and I see it all, I understand it all and I feel it all at a time. I acquit myself of poetry.
It's December and in the middle of the night, I remember to cry, something I haven't done in a long, long time.