I get scared about rummaging through old pictures now. Which is strange because on top of the softboard, in front of my desk, there are so many captured instants with you. So many moments when you look at me with that fond, indulgent smile. The smile that made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to, and you would watch, and be proud of me, while I did it. So many memories of standing next to you, with your arms around me, forming a protective cocoon between me and the world. But I get scared about rummaging through old pictures anyway. Maybe because in the world imprisoned between the four wooden corners of my softboard, memories have been limited to the few that I can handle. The few that I look at every single morning, afternoon, evening and - now. Those that I can look upon and smile. And thank God for giving them to me. (Because imagine what kind of life I would have led if I didn't even have these). But as for the rest, I don't know if my fragile emotions can survive a chance encounter with a picture I'm not prepared to see, and the uncontrolled invasion of millions of memories that will follow.
I've been told grief is natural. From anger to resignation to despair. Nothing I feel is uniquely mine. I've been told it'll get better, that someday, the shattering pain will recede, and then I can prevent the tears from falling. I've been told that someday I will be able to sleep again. Close my eyes and lose myself in a dream without waking up a dozen times longing to hear your voice. But not today. Today I break. Yet again. Yet without reason, without cause, without even coming across a single substantial reminder. Just because for one second I could not stop an unbidden thought from rushing across my brain and taking away every vestige of reason, and replacing it with the sheer numbness of unalloyed grief.
My tears are like the summer monsoon in Karachi. Sudden, unwelcome, and savagely intense. Those that do fall are unstoppable, they combine with what-used-to-be-eyeliner to form ugly black patterns across my face. But they don't really bother me as much as the tears-not-shed. The ones I can feel behind the wall of the dam, the wall from which this tiny, tiny little leak has sprung. You know, every time I break down, every other day almost, I wonder when this dam will break, when I will break. I wonder how long I can hold on, stay strong against this pressure of painful grief. And I wonder, when it does break, what do I hold on to to prevent me from being swept away?