Early deadline of Wingword Poetry Prize coming soon. Submit your poems now!

Sign of colours

Somi Patel

Violet had heard vivid descriptions of colours, shades, hues and textures of the grass, sky and everything in between but never once did she connect with or even acknowledge their existence. She didn’t try to. “One must only foster the kind of imagination one can afford to materialize”, she said more to herself than her mother. Julia didn’t, rather couldn’t reason with her daughter’s annoyingly pragmatic answers to no questions in particular.
“It’s been 20 years since dad’s left us yet you can distinguish every colour there is. Do you practice black magic? Scratch that, do you practice colour magic?”, teased Violet.
Julia only smiled for Violet rarely enables herself to have even a slice of gratification in her stale dessert of a life. For her, cake was inedible. Violet was always busy with her entrepreneurial aspirations so much so that she hardly had time to munch sweet delicacies. She’d build a technology consortium from zero ground to a global level with sheer diligence towards work (and sheer negligence towards herself) in a span of 10 years.
“You do know that getting love will allow you to see the world in colours of unimaginable beauty?” Julia brought up her primal topic of discussion, though not as subtly as she’d hoped to.
“Or so they say.”
“There have been multiple trials and it’s been concluded that having a partner enables humans to recognize other colours as well. I am living proof of this. What more do you want?”
“Yes, but I have seen and met people who are married yet can only see the world in black and white not unlike your unmarried daughter.”
“They’re the forsaken ones.”
“Who’s to say I’m not? Besides, the two colours I see help me put everything in perspective and give a lucid sense of decisions, responsibilities and conscience.”
Julia winced. She’d hoped that if she told Violet about every complexion of the planet, maybe she’d be more receptive to the idea of love and marriage. Her plans had taken a U-turn only to drive past buildings, trees, roads and people and stop in the deserted space of inescapable abyss.
So when 4 years later Violet told her about the wedding, Julia decided against jumping up and down in her living room, and settled for rapidly clasping of her feet one at a time into the floor carpet.
“So? Isn’t the world more scenic and beautiful now?” Julia asked and simultaneously tried to calm herself.
“I wouldn’t know. It’s the same”, Violet replied painlessly.
Julia’s heart sank. “You mean, you’re…” Somehow saying it about her daughter seemed like a taboo, so she didn’t finish.
“Forsaken, yes”, Violet replied with dead expressions.
“Does he know ‘or’ is he also…”, she cleared her throat, “forsaken?”
“He knows ‘and’ he’s not.” Violet didn’t argue that the two need not be mutually exclusive.
“As long as you’re getting married, I’m sure it’s fine.”

Violet remembered her first meeting with Josh vividly. She’d gone to Singapore for a business conference 2 years ago. As she was boarding her flight home, she heard a commotion at the other end of the line. But she didn’t even look up once from the magazine she was reading.
“Apparently, someone cut the line, so other someone decided to cut it as well, and then the another someone decided to leave the line to push the two off of it, only to later cut it himself.”, said a man’s voice from behind her.
“I couldn’t care less”, she replied blithely.
“You would if you were the ‘line’.”
She turned to see a man in his 30’s with a permanent glint and smile in his eyes, in contrast with a permanent emptiness and sadness in her own. She felt something racing in her heart, which only quickened as she listened to more of his commentary. They fell in love in the first meet and matured it into a relationship in the upcoming ones.
5 years into their marriage, Josh died in a car accident. Violet arranged for the funeral with an impassive face and an allusive heart. There was a cryptic blankness in her eyes that seemed to not look at objects but beyond them.
She almost immediately resumed her work for she preferred contracts, meetings, budgets, expansion and anything of minute importance than nothingness of her own loneliness. After a while, she tried to picture his face, his gestures, his voice, his eyes but it seemed to her his very existence had become ancient history: discovered, revered, remembered and then forgotten. She tried but couldn’t feel guilt.
She’d often driven herself to and from work as if she’d decided to be an insulation and no current was allowed to look and pass beyond the sheath. Her wiring was her own that ironically crimped to none. One night as she was crossing the intersection, she saw an old and dingy marquee on the right end of the road with gaudy lights that read: “Broken lines”. The road and sky seemed deprived off other substances except her headlights that now were but in front of the sign and moon that shone directly above it. Violet switched off her car and got out to see it more closely and noticed it said “Broken alignments” with the remnant letters’ broken with a spat on before and after poster of a repaired automobile below it. The shop behind it was closed with white concave and black convex shaped PVC shutter.
“Well, it sees what it wants to see.” She thought to herself.
The next morning, while brushing her teeth, her reflection looked a little off but she couldn’t quite place it. She noticed the usual white arms and face, black polo neck t-shirt and linen pyjamas and white and black hair. She closed her face in on the mirror such that both nose tips were but touching each other. She widened her eye sockets and saw a distinguishable colour which her mother had often described as violet.


Leave a comment