whys, wherefores and exhaled breath


the first crush i remember having was when i was ten. like all things from innocent childhood days, it was a team effort. what that basically means is that my then best buddy, the kid next door also had a crush on the same girl. the lady in question was a cousin of the guy who lived across the street and was two years older than all of us. she didn’t live there but visited often enough to be a regular part of our karachi afternoon games when the grownups were either at work or taking their valued summer siestas. we loved her because she listened to new kids on the block, knew who javed miandad was and could roller skate. what else do you want in a girl?

i remember the evening we poured out our hearts to her (we even did that together, kind of like a tag team) over sweet dripping gola gandas, our staple summer afternoon snack. she didn’t run or laugh or cry or get angry or anything. all she said was, the epitome of  surprise, “why?”. sweet childhood innocence. a girl unaware of the feelings she incites in men. i heard another “why” today – almost sixteen years after the first one, despite the thousands of lovely ladies who hijacked my attentions in between – only it wasn’t the surprised kind of why that comes with an intake of breath. it was the despairing, quiet why which comes with an exhalation. i’ve always been one for breathing patterns. they tell you more about whats actually going on inside than any body language except darting eyes. and you can tell in a breath when you’ve ruined something. it doesn’t hit you in the gut like long forgotten punches from the school bully or in a burning shock like the time you almost got eloctrocuted by the broken power cable of your tv. its like the wave of nausea that hits you when you swallow milk thats gone sour, the sudden rumbling in the stomach when you see the question you didn’t prepare for in the exam, the feeling of immobility when you realise the principal is watching as you let the air out of his car’s tyre. it is not a good feeling, to say the least.

there are a hundred ways to answer a why like that. you can tell your certain someones what it is about them that you like so much – their personality, their attitude, their looks, their laugh, their style, their smile, their hair, their ears, their eyes, their tears and the love they have for pomegranates. you have, after all, had those conversations with yourself a million times. you can wax lyrical, comparing them to the moon and your love to the sea and talk of oases in burning deserts and roses among barren bushes. you can plead and whine like a lovesick puppy or steamroll over your confession like its of little consequence. you can come up with a million different reasons a million different times when they put their quiet whys to you. or you can answer, just as quietly, “why not?”.

no answer will be perfect. no answer will say it all. there is no answer to why perfect matches were created for our imperfect selves. for why the sun rises and sets on just one person, for why you feel you can fly when she smiles at you, for why everything beautiful in the world vanishes during the instant she blinks her eyes. who knows? who cares? but the tragedy of a why is not in its inanswerability. its in the breath that was exhaled during the saying of it. in the sigh that signals the shattering of a relationship. in the empty, useless, dead air that leaves the most luscious lips ever seen by man.

hollow promises to put two minutes of indescretion behind and continue as if nothing happened are not reassuring. but of course, you clutch at straws.  what else is there?

and you hope. you hope.


42 Responses to “whys, wherefores and exhaled breath”

  1. 1 Saira

    Monsieur… my mind just went blank. In short, just hang in there. Im a firm believer in the soulmate theory i.e. theres someone out there worth opening your heart for. Inshallah you’ll eventually find that someone. It happens at the most unexpected times. And yes I sound beyond soppy but your post was heartbreaking and consequently very well written. hmm…

  2. 2 Saadat

    That exhaled breath always leaves one breathless, huh?

    But, as you yourself said, the why’s like these don’t have any answers. Except, of course, the simple ‘why not?’. If the ‘why’ has not left your breathless, that is.

    Very well written, by the way.

  3. It was by chance that I came upon your blog and this post. This post, in fact, inspired a post on my own blog which I don’t imagine you would appreciate reading now, but perhaps in future you would.

    Given the sensitivity of what you wrote, I applaud you all the more for the excellent writing.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel. Have hope in that light, and you’ll figure your way out. Wishing you a peaceful and content heart.

  4. and its hope which keeps us going… to another why…. 🙂

    hang in there.. its not a easy road..

    just wish they would understand… they would be okay with it, and they would not doubt it… oh wait, thats not for you :p

  5. hmmm…and no matter how many times u ll hear the “why?” and no matter how many times u come up with a “why not?”, it still would have the potential of hurting u, of evoking in u all the feelings that u have captured above. it would stop only when the other person instead of asking the “why?” from u , would hold an answer, the key. On the flip side, there would always be people who have answers and not the ‘whys’, but no one ever bare their heart ansd soul infront of them.

  6. 6 PsycheD

    :S im lost ……. how did the why come up again???

    btw….why fudge category? now pls dont say why not! 😛 and am sure this why will be easier to answer
    p.s…did i tell u i like ur writing style and expression?? do u write for any publication? if no – then wud u like to *hint* 😉

  7. Next time I too shall chekc the breathing parameter. Makes sense.

  8. damn! that was like a tug at the heart…
    on the lighter side.. does that mean zulekha almost came into existence? why and why-nots apart, good luck! maybe next time its a breath of relief when she can thank the lord for having finally heard what she wanted to hear 😉

  9. 9 Ad.ha.nan

    you’re very well with the words and putting thoughts in words. It must be lack of confidence when it comes to answer the ‘why?’

  10. nice of all you to comment and sympathise 🙂

  11. and psyched, fudge is what i call her. a play on her initials.

  12. Please to accept my condolences.

    On a selfish note. I be very sad that I wont be able to “hehe” anymore 😦

  13. u pen well man…cheers…hope u’ll find ur lady love soon

  14. @ samar: being me, i can see a lighter side in most things. and in your response i see your age. you’re at least 63. that kind of english is the same as the one they used in letters that began with “most respectfully i beg to say…” and ended with “your humble servant” 😛 (my turn to snigger)

    @ beebop’s buddy: thanks man. i’ve already found her. its a question of her finding me. 🙂

  15. Xill: Being you, I can see that your 63 is actually 63-43. *sniggers along with you*

  16. ok that went over my head. *sniggers again*

  17. 17 anie

    interesting space u have here .. heavy but real. reading. will comment.

  18. 18 PsycheD

    fudge…awwww cute!!!!!!!!

  19. sweet

  20. is it the after-effect tale of that innocent why 😛

  21. 21 aasiah

    hota hai… you think ‘barbaad hogaye’, this is it, and u kick urself a few dozen times, but u pick up the pieces n learn to move on, we all mayb created in pairs/soulmates, but sometimes the one we think is the one for us isnt always the one for us :s did that make sense? …….. having said that, hope it works out for u 🙂 ………… yes i read ur posts all one shot n comment on them….. tried not to comment on them but u write so well that i am compelled to say sth :S take care

  22. Very well written. It flows…I read this a couple of days back…didnt leave a comment as I wanted to experience the breathing acknowledgements and denials. Ive realised in the last few days, that people lie (hide) alot…if your theory is valid, which I personally feel it is as their breathing gives them away.

    Thanks, I learnt something new.

    Interesting blog, will be coming back to read more

  23. The ancient Greeks believe that soul mates are the same being literally cut in half and expelled to opposite poles of the Earth. It is an exaggeratedly humorous theory that.. still blows my mind away, honestly.

    I really enjoyed this entry. I added you to my Feed Reader.

    ‘Why not?’ is a succinct, rhetorical way of saying “Everything!”

    It’s a winner.

  24. اردو میں لکھا کیجے ۔ اس کا اپنا مزہ ہے

  25. 25 UTP

    What a beautifully written post XILL…? Where do you get all of this from…you ve got some great inspiration which everyone wishes he had….well written…

    I just love it when someone writes their heart out…it sounds so real and pure…beautiful…

    Oh haan it does work out….in the best possible way only if you hang on long enough….

  26. @ all you guys: thanks. 🙂

  27. I dont know why ‘why’ doesn’t seem quite the end of the world response to me despite all the breath intake and all you have mentioned. ‘Why’ sounds inquisitive–gives me a ‘tell me more’ kinda vibe. And from personal experience when we are tense and anticipating something negative we may tend to misread body language clues too. Just my two bit. Just dont give up hope that soon.

  28. @ sabahat: i don’t intend to. 🙂

  29. so like. what happened?

  30. i mean, since then

  31. 31 skzworldofdreams

    I second hemlock…though I know kinda what happened after this…he found his punjabi duedette! 😛 😀 ..and I don’t get what gybektypitiq (wow! THAT was hard to type out!) just said. 😛

  32. 32 skzworldofdreams

    ‘for why the sun rises and sets on just one person’ 😦

  33. 33 SK

    err…Xil…I think you better come back now… 🙂 Your blogworld is turning x-rated! 😀

  34. 34 skzworldofdreams

    XIL.err..X-rated again…hahahaha! 😀 This is hilarious!!! Of all the blogs, they pick yours…hmm…wonder why? 😉
    And excuse me…what happened to ‘bibi, start your blog…I wanna read your archives too..” As far as I can see you don’t visit that often, let alone read the archives.. 😛

    *this X-rated thing is toooooooooo funny! 😀 *

  35. 35 skzworldofdreams

    Aur rakho ‘exhaled breath’ post ka naam!! 😛

  36. its wierd how akismet works everywhere but on this post…

  37. and i do visit your blog, bibi. i just don’t comment on everything i read. though admittedly i haven’t read all your stuff 🙂

  38. 38 skzworldofdreams

    ‘its wierd how akismet works everywhere but on this post…’ aaaaaahhhhhhhhahahahahahha….still too funny. 😀 Maybe akismet loves this post as well. 😀 😛
    And to the other thing….oh, o.k. 🙂

  39. 39 skzworldofdreams

    Err…have you noticed the more you ‘disappear’ the worst these things get??…:S

  40. 40 skzworldofdreams

    And have you noticed how EVERYTIME it takes a porn comment to bring you back? 😀 😛

  41. 41 skzworldofdreams

    So NOW I know why you keep vaporizing…in hopes of it coming to THIS!! 😀 HHHAAAAAAAAAAHHHAAAAAA!!! 😀

  42. 42 hemlock

    *dies laughing*
    pronos like yew!

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