Pain made him as hard as a cactus stem. His tongue as sharp as it’s thorns. Life’s heat like that of the sun and roughness like that of the desert made his roots grow deeper and deeper. He yearned for love. He felt there was none as witty as him, as sarcastic as him and as unbearable as him. He had been with many and none matched his standards yet. Yet, he never knew that one princess who admired him everyday. Laughed at his sarcasm, got lost in his melodious voice. Every time he strung those guitar strings, the tunes struck her heart.
She was a distant admirer, afraid to let him know, afraid to lose his sight. She knew this cactus too well. Then one day she saw him drunk, he was drunk on alcohol singing out loud in the street, the words of pain. She felt his words piercing her heart. He was looking up in the sky laughing his lungs out and suddenly breaking into sobs.
‘What was it?’ she wondered, ‘was it a girl who left such deep scars on such a beautiful heart? Or did he lose someone special??’ ‘Wow! I didn’t know he’s a lonely man…’ ‘yet, he’d never let anyone close.’
She stood there dumbstruck, lost in her train of thoughts when he looked down frowning. As if he sensed her presence he sharply turned around, their eyes met, for the first time ever. Both stood fixed at their places in the empty street under the street lights and the stars of the moonless sky. She wondered if he would run away if she walked towards him, and she took her chances. He didn’t move a single inch.
She stood close enough to give him goosebumps, she saw him gulp, heard his deep breathes, she was lost in his teary eyes.
‘Do I know you?’ he spoke out hoarsely, sniffed and regained his usual stern self.
‘No, but I do.’ she whispered.
He looked down at her, confused, wondering if he was too drunk or was this girl actually like an angel. But he was a devil and she didn’t seem to know it.
‘We are in the same class.’ she said.
‘What are you doing here?’ he said looking around at the deserted lane.
‘Emm… I was c-coming back f-from a friend’s p-party.’ she stuttered. His look was dark and it sent chills down her spine.
What is wrong with me? she wondered.
Why is she stuttering? he wondered, Am I already scaring her?
‘Well, then go home.’ he said and turned around to leave.
‘Would you like to walk with me? My house is just a few blocks from here…’ her eyes were big and innocent. He knew she wasn’t flirting but just being friendly. He nodded and they started walking.
From that day, they started to know each other. Although he tried maintaining his distance, she knew it and gave him space. He baffled her with his spontaneous change, and she baffled him accepting some of his worst sides. They were not just getting used to each other but craved for each other’s presence. Every night she prayed not to lose him. Every night he felt cold and empty in his bed. She was becoming the water for which the cactus grows it’s roots deeper and deeper. He didn’t like it, so, the next day he ignored her. The pain she felt that day was harder than a pinch from a cactus thorn.
And so the thorns grew stronger and stronger with the sight of his water and roots grew deeper and deeper with yearn for it. He looked at her sullen face, plastered smiles, hollow eyes, from a distance. She had tried enough to reach out but the wall of thorns grew and grew. One day it all finished, he went upto her but she walked away. Tears had long gone finished, now she clung on to a empty heart. But she didn’t know that she was the water he yearned for and so, for the first time in his life, he let go of all his thorns and went up to her door. When she opened it, he simply pulled her out on the threshold and hugged her.
The roots met the water, and the starved cactus got his life back.
-Mamta K. Sofat
[For music lovers: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
Don’t be so hard on yourself by Jess Glynne
[P.S: Might travel to Thar or Sahara Desert someday and do my own photography but till then cactus from google… ;p]