The year spent on an island


“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

I loved the year I spent on an island.

I was anonymous on that island. I was not going to be remembered for who I was, but for what I did. And that freedom of anonymity crushed and liberated me in ways I never could have imagined.

Sometimes, when anonymity got too hard to bear, I got on my bike. It was always a good day when I had the strength to fight the road’s indifference with destinations to distract me: somewhere to work, somewhere to eat, somewhere to break the sweat on my back, away from my moldy bed.

Sometimes, when it got late and I had reached the edge of the island on my bike, densely populated with catastrophic ghosts, I didn’t mind going to bed anymore. It was one of the good things about living there. That biking was enough to make comfy the bed at home.

I had a boyfriend then, but I was too numb or detached to realize that he was not meant to be. I might have felt it, but couldn’t understand why I ached for him even when he was attending me. And he attended me with indulgent kindness and, years later, that is how I remembered him.

On August 13, 17:14, I was home when I could not fight it anymore. Feelings, in every name and size, washed over me in spasmodic waves. I wept until my knees gave. I hiccupped through the text I sent him. I sobbed when I tried to tell him that I wasn't hurt and I was safe.

My clothes were soaked when he banged on my door, and his shirt and brow and eyes too were damp, and he pressed himself onto me, bearing with me the weight of everything that demanded its rightful name.

I loved the year I spent on that island. I was lonely and don’t want to remember anymore. But I do remember how his ashen face calmed me. I remember how he redressed and coaxed me out of the house for a drive. I remember that we stopped for food, and we  broke bread and we talked and we tried to understand the things we couldn’t name.

And even when we couldn't understand, we had a bed that we slept in till morning.

And I had the strength to get on my bike again, that morning.

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