Denim Pants

Ditsa Majumder

You bought yourself the pair of denim pants on your way to the airport.
“The hills will do you good”, your boss said. You didn’t want any good. You didn't deserve any good. And you sure as hell did not want the hills. It had been a month since she had left. A year since you had wanted her to leave. You had spent a decade on your dream job. But dreams change very fast and they never told you that.
You think all that as you hold your new denim pants. It's four in the morning, you have not slept.
It is still dark outside. You walk up to a store, they don't sell much. A few unpopular cigarettes and food for birds. The lady at the counter is combing her hair, it goes all the way down to her knees. She stares at you and you stare at her. She seems familiar. The man in front of you is done buying his twelve litres of water and you ask the lady for a cigarette, she is still staring at you. It doesn’t bother you at all. That bothers you. You ask her for the red ones, they smell of wood. You ask her if she could light you one. She nods. Yes.
She walks backwards like she’s part of a play and the curtains are coming down. You think she must be getting some matchsticks. You feel like you’re supposed to follow her, you almost want to follow her. She dissolves into the back door. You stand there, really trying to think for a second and then you walk to the back of the store, and you open the door to see that you are on the edge of a hill, the hill falls into a field. You are walking down the hill, it is steeper than it looks and then you are running. You are running, it feels like you are floating in the air. You are running in your new denim pants. For the entirety of your descent, it never does cross your mind why you were running down the hill. All you see is a narrow stream somewhere down there and all the green that surrounds it and all you feel is the wind in your dry lungs and the cheapness of your shoes. You are free because you are lost.
Then, you are grounded again. You cannot tell clouds from hills as you walk down to the water. The lady, she’s right there. By the stream, by the big rock. She wears a loose dress of sorts with unfinished patchwork and seashells hanging on to the seam. She stands, she just stands and you just watch. You've seen this before. Eventually she turns, she isn't surprised to see you. But everything about her puts you in awe. She stares at you, it is a different kind of stare, a delicate coaxing of the eyes. With permission, you start to notice just how much of her you have not seen yet. The little lump on her nose and the marks around her chin, the hole in her garment through which you see the white of a vest, and her feet without any cover. "I've dreamt of you", you say to her, not knowing why. She nods. Yes.
You follow her into the trees, into the dark, out into the light. She does not stop, she does not glance back at you. Occasionally your hands touch hers. The feeling is disappointing. You think about your dream, a dream from when you were nineteen. A lover and birds and the air they fly in, you feel that everything in that dream was her. Your thoughts are so fast-paced, you never stop to doubt it. You never stop to notice the collapsing of worlds that take place inside your brain. The absurdity of it all does not bother you, it only drives you further.
She turns right and you find yourself on an empty street. And then you are staring at each other again. Her eyes are coloured brown, you're not even sure if that is what you’re really looking at. You're not sure you understand her well. If her flinches and blinks and the movement of her lips mean anything at all. Although, she seems to know everything about you. You look at her and you feel helpless and drowning, you feel she could sum up your entire life in sentences with question marks. She terrifies you.
She moves, you think this is how she talks. She dances to the city waking up. You could not call it dancing but it seems beautiful, the kind of beautiful you can only feel. You are now sitting on an empty street watching a woman dance, wearing your new denim pants.
You know what is about to happen but you ask anyway, “Will you go now?” She nods. Yes.
You think she will disappear, like in the movies. You await the phantasm to displease you. But she walks, backwards and then she turns around. As you watch her go, you think the hills have done you good and maybe someday, you will tell yourself that this was another dream. As you watch her go, you wish she would turn around one last time, but if she did, you know you would not love her so.
You feel like any other person would run after her, you don’t know what holds you back. You are afraid she will not be the same. That she will crumble to dust at your touch. In a while, you cannot see her anymore, she is gone. You are lost again. You wonder if you will remember her face, if you will spend your life searching for that face or if she will come to you again. In a dream perhaps, disguised as the rain. You feel a sudden sense of longing like you are waiting for something you don't know the name of. Maybe you are just waiting to wake up, maybe you are waiting for something to swallow you whole. You will now spend the rest of your life trying to fulfil this longing. She leaves you with a feeling such as that and an unlit cigarette.

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