The Girl With The Pink Hair
I see her sitting outside on the porch, looking at the horizon, lost in her thoughts. I have been feeling it for a while that something is weighing on her. She would start saying something and then she would stop. Last night we were watching something, and she just stood and went to bed. I was hoping that it would go away on its own. A part of me was scared that it might have to do something I said, I did or something I didn’t say or did. I knew I was being selfish here, trying to avoid a hard conversation. But I had a feeling that this was different.
I opened the door and walked towards her. She didn’t even notice, nor did she act surprised seeing me there. I asked her — “Hey wassup, you alright? “She just looked at me and then continued looking at some distant tree or sun or maybe nothing and tells me — yeah, all good. Just thinking about something. And then she closed her eyes, took a breath, brought herself to that porch back again, and went inside. I just stood there trying to figure out what was going on and then I saw a pic lying on the coffee table. It was her old pic. A really old pic. She was there with her 2 best friends; they were all laughing as if they were having the time of their life. There was no fear on those faces, in those eyes. Not waiting for something to happen. No anxiety about the past or future. Just 3 friends enjoying that point in space and time. And she had her hair colored, it was pink. Just like the time I saw her for the first time.
It was 2011. I was in Bangalore. I went to Hard Rock café with my friends to celebrate the first paycheck. I was never a party person and soon the pub started making me feel nauseous. I came out to get some fresh air and there I saw her standing. She was trying to find something in her purse, and she took out her pack of Marlboro. She took one smoke out, lit it, and kept the box back. She took her first puff and then second, not paying any attention to any prying eyes including mine. She made it clear that none of us deserve an existence in her universe. And then something happened that changed everything. My life, her life, our life.
A puppy came near her, wagging her tail. And in the first display of emotions, which was the burst of pure happiness, she threw away her smoke and started playing with the puppy. And I was standing there thinking, wishing that I could do something, say something. I still don’t know what happened in that moment. I did something I never did before or after. I went to her and asked her — Do you have a dog?
“I wish. But no. Maybe someday. What about you?”
“I just adopted one. He is 6 months old.”
“Oh wow! Really? What’s his name?”
“Well, I call him Zero. I think he doesn’t like it very much. Because he clearly ignores anything I tell him to do. “
“I would love to meet zero someday.”
And she laughed. And this is how it all started. I was falling for her. I didn’t know then what it was. Maybe it was her confidence. Or her perfectly symmetrical face. Or Maybe her child-like smile, Pure and innocent. But I know now. It was her pink hair.
Before I knew it, Zero became our dog. He continued to ignore me but would listen to her. For the next 3 years, we would meet, walk, eat, talk. We would go to cafes, bars, and restaurants. We would go to beaches, mountains, forests. We would play, dance, laugh, cry, fight. We would hug, kiss, sleep together. She would come to my apartment and go until one day she didn’t. 3 years later since we met, we were standing outside Hard rock café, on that same corner of the street and she proposed to me. She was always like that. Doing things how she feels and not caring about how they should be. I still remember she had her hair-colored blue that night.
I don’t know how or when life started evolving. She was doing great in her job and her company offered to move to London. We always wanted to travel to Europe, so I quit my job and joined her. She kept climbing the ladder and we kept moving around and now we are here. She is a mother of two, a VP, a dog mom, and a wife. But she doesn’t color her hair anymore. She doesn’t smoke. She doesn’t laugh the way she used to.
And that’s when I realized I had lost her somewhere. We grow and evolve every day. Every day we die a little and are reborn a little. Everywhere we went, everyone we met, we picked something, and we left something. We traded kingfishers for the wine, replaced beans bags with recliners, the weekend of sex and pizza with weekends to Costco. I am proud of how we evolved and grew. I am proud of what we, she achieved. But now standing on this porch, looking at that pic, seeing those pink hair — I feel a sense of loss. I know what she feels because I am feeling the same.
A feeling of losing myself, someone I really adored, someone in which I invested my energy, someone I carefully crafted over the years. And now that person has gone as I have become this version of me now. I am confused if I should mourn the death of my past self or celebrate the birth of this new me. Maybe I should accept that whatever time my past self had on this planet, he lived it completely. And it was time for him to go. And like anyone who leaves us, memories of that person are still inside me. And sometimes as we honor the memories of people who left us by remembering them, I should do the same.
I binged the best salon in the tri-state area and called to make the hair coloring appointment for next Saturday. I called a babysitter for the weekend and made a reservation at Hard rock café on Broadway. I made sure to pick up a pack of Marlboro.
I don’t know if this would cheer her up. I don’t know if she would laugh the way she was laughing in the pic. I don’t know if we will find a puppy on the street. I still don’t know if this was all because of lost youth or something I said, I did or something I didn’t say or did. Most probably it’s the latter.