I had always wondered why she loved pink so much. Maybe she did not want to let go of that part of her that believed in fairy tales. The part that believed that love was eternal and there was something pure called God. Pink was what she wore at our wedding. Pink was what she wore at every anniversary.
Pink numbed my heart enough to get me through these 5 years of marriage. And pink would get me through this surprise birthday party for her.
Pink balloons, pink ribbons, pink roses, and a chocolate cake with strawberry pink frosting.
She would hate it. Not because she hates pink. But because it’s not her birthday today.
And she would know that I don’t remember her birthday. She would know that I don’t care for her enough to remember her birthday. If she is smart, she would stop living in a fairy tale. If she is smart, she would know that love is not eternal and there is no happily ever after.
If she is smart, she would know there is no such thing as love, only ways we find to fill this emptiness for a while.
I was wearing a pink dress when we first kissed. He was tender at first, then hungry, and then ashes and mud.
I don’t know why I married him.
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. This isn’t the way my life is supposed to feel. There is no place where I can find love that was eternal and pure. Love that moved me to tears when I read about it. Love that was like coming home to a garden of pink roses and jasmine.
If I have to live, the part of me that has come to settle for him has to die.
How can I live with a man who does not believe in love or god? Sometimes I feel maybe he is right. If there was god, why would I be married to this man?
Love is God, and it will live forever.
If love has to live, only the parts of me that doubt love have to die.
The house looks pink, just as she likes it. I can hear her footsteps approaching the kitchen door through the small garden of roses and jasmine she planted herself.
When I first started dating her, the sound of her footsteps always intrigued me. I would listen to her feet and then look at her face, her body. How could a serene mask color her face when her feet always seemed to be running away from something?
Layers of pink over a dirty truth, that’s who she is. I am going to wait for her in the living room, this is where all her layers will crumble to sand today.
This is where she will face the truth she always ran away from.
Truth will set her free, hopefully.
I can see the back of his head from the kitchen. I don’t want him to see me like this.
I will not go to the living room before I go to the bedroom and wear my pink lace dress. He can’t resist me in this dress. He never waits to take it off me.
I need him to come to me today and face the ultimate truth.
Truth that will set him free.
“What is all this?”
“Do you like the surprise darling?”
She looked around. The pink she had loved all her life was choking her breath with a never before obscenity. Only he could turn pink into a spiral of shameless excess. Her gaze tiptoed to the tip of each balloon lying on the floor, cautiously counting the ribbons stuck on each wall around her. Finally she settled her gaze on the round ugliness of dark pink frosting on a cake that insulted her more than anything else in the entire room.
Only he could diminish something beautiful even as he pretended to celebrate it, she thought, wary of the pink she added to the room with her dress.
“It’s not my birthday today. Do you not remember?” She surprised herself with her calm tone.
He froze as the ice in her words touched the back of his neck, sending shivers where he had only felt an unnamed disgust so far.
He had expected a red-hot iron, not the ash white of ice nowhere close to melting.
“Oh my god, looks like I forgot your birthday.” He looked at her, with no remorse or guilt, just some mockery strewn around like the pink balloons.
“How do you do this every year?”
“And why do you expect me to remember? Isn’t it enough that I am putting all your favorite shenanigans together?”
There it was, out in the open, the first step to see the truth of what she called love.
“What happened to you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You were the man who would love me forever. Why did you become like this?”
“Would you just open your eyes once and for all? This is who I am, this is how I have always been. It’s not my fault if you want me to remember the time and date of every little thing we did long time ago.”
“You are right. Why should you remember my birthday, or our first date, our first kiss, our anniversary? These things are completely useless for our lives. Aren’t they?”
“Exactly what I have been saying all these years. I am glad you are coming to your senses.”
“That’s true. I see what you have been trying to show me all these years.”
She smiled. He smiled back, hoping for a win he had longed for since he met her.
“What do you see?”
“I was wrong. Someone like you cannot be my soulmate.”
“Soulmate? Seriously? The only thing I know as a sole is at the bottom of my shoe.” He laughed.
“People like you are godless and loveless.”
“I pity you. How did you become this person?” He laughed, harder this time.
“You think you are so intelligent. You are just a coward who hides behind these jokes. You don’t even have the balls to be angry.” She laughed, the scared laugh of someone who either knew nothing or too much.
He looked up, fear making his eyelids droop. Something was not right today. She was laughing at things she used to cry about.
“You know what? I think you really need a doctor for your messed up head. I have tried to drill some sense in you. I tried to show you how ugly life is. If your god was real, why would people die of hunger and bomb blasts?”
“God loves them too in his own way. Maybe they are destined to die and come back to a better life. But you can’t face this truth. You can’t even face your own truth.”
“This just gets better and better. Enlighten me, what is my truth?”
“The truth is that you love me. You have lied to yourself all your life that you don’t love me. You are the one who is sick.”
“All this bull shit you see in romantic movies and old fairy tales is a fantasy.”
“Fantasy? Is that what you call it? When we first fell in love, was that a fantasy too?”
“Not we, you! I am so tired of your delusions. We are born, we eat, we fuck, and we die. In the middle of all that we use all the means we can get to fulfill our needs.”
“Then why did you marry me?”
“I married you because that’s what I was supposed to do, I was to marry someone. I liked you, I married you. Why do I have to explain this again and again?”
“I thought you loved me. Isn’t that why you kept coming back to me even after we fought?”
“I kept coming back to you because you would always let me. Did I ever say I love you? Or make any promises?”
Her head in her hands, she sat on the sofa motionless. He seemed to go on and on, spitting black in pink around her, engulfing her in a prison of sheer yarn that she kept trying to break.
He was still talking. “Your so-called god has made you blind, deaf, and dumb. You fast one day and pray to stones to add years to my life. You wear red on Valentine’s Day and drag me to all these syrupy sickening dinners. Don’t you see that you make me sick?”
She looked at him, a beautiful body that held a dark soul. It was God’s will that she be married to this man. It was God’s will and purpose that she needed to fulfill. Maybe she could still make him feel his love. Maybe the pink dress will cast its spell again.
“Would you like some cake?” she said as if it really was her birthday.
He looked at her, shocked at the calm in her voice, at the quiet pink that she had become. He smiled, maybe he had won the battle tonight. Maybe it was all worth it for today.
She cut a piece of cake, put it on a plate and walked up to him. The lace net on her pink dress rustled against his jeans, and she could feel her victory slowly rising to make its place. He could lie all he wanted, he still loved her. Everything would be alright again.
She could feel his gaze on her back as she walked away from him to the table to cut another piece. Suddenly, she could feel him standing behind her, his arms slowly gripping her waist.
“One more thing.” He whispered in her ears. Now that she had finally come around to see the truth of love, it was time she knew the rest of the truth too.
“I hate pink. Always have.”
“What?” She stood in his arms, motionless, his face buried in the hair behind her ears.
“I hate pink, always have. It makes me want to puke.”
“But you always loved me in this pink dress. You could never wait to take it off me.” Her grip tightened on the knife.
“Don’t you get it? I took it off because I hated it.”
He didn’t see the knife coming.
How could he? All he saw too was pink.
My color of love was his color of death.
He chose this color, just as I did. He was the black mold, the fungus on my pink.
It was God’ will to kill those parts of me that doubted. He was that part of me that doubted.
Now all I have left is love.
All I have left is pink.
This story emerged from the prompts I got at the Write Club Bangalore. All thanks to the group for feedback and to the hosts for support!