Cleaning up a house where a relationship died – Sehba Imam

It’s messy. And throws up many questions. Was it killed, murdered in cold blood? Culpable homicide or reciprocatory violence. Was it kidnapped and made to disappear? or was it a case of plain suicide in sheer desperation.

Every corner has a story to tell, every chipped dish and decoration piece gathering dust is an eyewitness. The white blood of silences and the purple splashes of anger close in on me from every direction. There’s stink of decaying helplessness that’s invisible but present in its stench. I touch something to clean it and failure sticks to my fingers like grime. A beautiful sari speaks of challenged self belief, a photograph lying in a corner stabs like a piece of shattered glass.

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Relationships are illusions, that find it hard to survive the drill of reality. They scream and shout and protest when put them to a test, some die of exhaustion, some slip out to easier pastures and some just drag on with an unbearable inertia and weight of social pressure.

My relationship buckled under the pressure of extreme hope. Extreme desire for clarity, beauty, unusualness. It failed the reality check. It needed a heavy dose of pretence that I could not produce from my bag of tricks.

I look at the woman who lived here, in this house – scared, full of doubt, her hopes of defying the role she was cast in getting the better of her. Her ability to handle practical advice abysmal and her belief in the ability of her partner to rise to the challenge of being all that she believed he was, rigid. And rigid, does not bend it breaks.

She in her happy bubble of illusions, she in her bubblegum ideas of what a woman could be and still be loved… she fell on her face. Angry and lost, loathsome and pitiable, desperate for acknowledgement and yet incredibly strong and affectionate in equal measures – she looked outside her to love herself.

I have ignored that woman in me and others forever – decried her, belittled her, advised her, dismissed her, shamed her… I would snatch the mirror from her and shatter it against some learnt belief of what a woman should be. I met her here, in this lonely house after avoiding her all this time. In a house that got burgled of items that could be listed, I sat down with her and tried to make a list of everything else that was stolen from her since childhood but could never be listed.

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I made a list and we went through it – It’s a long list of good and bad, ugly and beautiful, mundane and incredible. It’s a list of human in us. A list of life , not theories and shoulds.

I embraced that woman and said, we’ll get along – as we are… we are good. let’s clean this house of death and stench. Let’s grow a garden of belief – that just as we have survived this and gathered experiences we’ll keep nurturing situations and gathering experiences as we go.

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Death and decay are a part of life, and what dies becomes fuel for the future.
So ashes to ashes
Dust to Dust
Cry when you have to
But (do not forget)
To Laugh and trust.

Sehba Imam is a Feminist writer, walker (Founder of Lets Walk Gurgao), Ted Talker and a life traveler.

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