When I woke up I was all alone
With a broken heart and a ticket home
And I ask you now, tell me what would you do
If her hair was black and her eyes were blue
I've traveled around, I've been all over this world
Boys I ain't never seen nothin' like a galway girl
“Galway Girl” by Steve Earle
I get my answer. All it took was one year. Photographs. Videos. Emails. Moments. Memories. And those 5 minutes every night when I lived through them. The last 5 minutes before I closed my eyes. My last 5 minutes on earth. That would be it. Every single heartbeat. Was I afraid? (Laughs) Terrified. Picture yourself going for a tumour scan and waiting a month for the results. Like I said. I got my answer. Was it what I wanted to hear? Yes. No.
“Always Something” by Switchfoot
She said there’s someone else now. Now. Which means there was a “Once”. There was. She said that too. But she wasn’t going to hold on to it because of where we were and are in our lives. Maybe it’s because I’m an ogre and she’s a princess. Maybe it’s because the clock has struck 12 and her carriage has turned back into a pumpkin. Maybe we’re stuck in different timelines. Maybe we belong to different worlds.
“Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen
How’d I know it was her? I close my eyes and see her. I open them, and want to see her. I wake up every morning with a smile now. I smile when I think of her. I smile when I get her emails. I smile at the way she rolls her t-shirt sleeves up, the way you would roll your pants if it was too long. A fate her every top suffered. I smile at the way she ties her hair in a bun with that scarf of hers. I smile at the way she speaks Punjabi. I smile at the way she mutes the swear word in her sentence and just mouths it, on the rare occasion it’s needed. I smile at the way she always talks about food, and throws in random “did you knows” while devouring it, especially when it’s fruit. Apparently apples are good for your digestion. I smile again.
Find anything new and exciting? (Laughs again) That’s what I thought. What can I say? Love is stereotyped.
“I Miss You” by Blink 182
True romance is letting her go. I always said that. But I knew it wasn’t complete. There was something missing from those words. I could never quite place it. You watch movies like a painted veil, a walk to remember, before sunrise, p.s. I love you, and you wonder how I come up with quotes like these. And then, there’s me. My story. The one without a movie. Without a book. Without a poem. Just a tune. A melody. A string of notes put together that play in my head. Just 3 actually. On a piano or a vaja. This part of my life. This chapter’s soundtrack.
“Fix You” by Coldplay
Why her? The million dollar question. When I was falling, she pulled me up, barely even knowing me. I found the courage to be a Jatha Coordinator and lead Rehraas sessions in Samelan 2007. I take cold showers every morning now. I did my first set of the 5 morning Baani’s in one sitting, on the roof of Sri Harmandar Sahib after darbar sahib sewa at 3 in the morning. I organized ‘Across the Universe’. I go for yoga classes every Tuesday now. People come up to me and say, I matter. She stood next to me on the Sarovar steps at 2am, filling buckets with water for devotees to wash the Parkarma with. I stopped running, and became me. The guy with a white shahi turban and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. The rocker saint.
Because her hair was black and her eyes were blue. Because she fixed me.
“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
What? My story? Nah. It’s not worth telling. Has a great soundtrack and an excellent script, but too many plot holes, inconsistent character development, boring and repetitive sets and locations, an unexciting lead actor, a leading actress he might never see again, no on-screen kiss or even a date, a total screen time of an hour, and they don’t even get together in the end. Actually, no one really knows what happens. Here’s what anybody knows. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. That’s it. Doesn’t sound like your everyday bestseller, does it? No. What I’m doing is, describing a moment, like I always do. Like I’ve always done. Because, maybe the greatest story ever told was a symphony. And that’s all it ever was.
“Who Knew” by Pink
I told her I’ll ask her out in 2 years. When life has become a painted house. When it’s become the welcome mat on my doorstep. She said a lot can happen in 2 years. Who knows where we’ll be? For one of the few times in my life, I can’t answer her. And then it hits me. Why the quote felt incomplete. Because it was. What I felt was different. True romance is letting her go, FOR NOW. Perfect.
Maybe I’m pushing her unto a pedestal. Maybe I’m trying to see her with wings. Maybe I’m forcing her to wear a halo. Who knows? If only you could see what I see, and then tell me to let go.
“I’ll Love You Till the End” by The Pogues
2 years. Life is waiting? Not this time. This time, I am. 2 years is a lifetime. Maybe, this is all it will ever be. A memory. A cipher. Maybe this is all I’ll ever have. A gift. Then, I will say words. The only trace of her. The only proof of life. Words like these. “Once upon a time, we were.”
Once. We were.
I think deep down, she’ll always be the Galway Girl. My Galway Girl. The one whose hair was black and eyes were blue. The dream that came true. Never. True. Never.
So, here’s what you are going to do.
Smile. Cry. And then, there’s tomorrow.
“Thirteen” by Big Star