The role of a lifetime

I stood in the side lines, waiting for the curtains to part. Anticipation filled the air, we were hardly breathing. The house was full, the stage was set, the lights went out and act one began. The phone rang, it wasn’t good news. The audience had no choice but to be sucked right into the vortex of drama, where weeping and shock had taken over the scene.

As the act progressed, natural human nature took over and the characters moved on to different things. It is funny, this business of news. We brood over bad news much more than we celebrate good news. We also fiercely deny the existence of bad news. Like all things, this too shall pass. Friendship eased the wounds, which would eventually turn into scars, meant to be reminisced about, maybe even laughed at. This act was almost at an end, when something signalled my attention from the other side. It was Love. I gestured it to wait, holding out my hand. It didn’t understand. I mouthed the words ‘You are on next, wait for act two’, making a peace sign with my fingers.

It nodded and waited. As the curtains closed, we set the stage for Love to make its grand entry. Act two was going to be happy, cheery and bright. The first line was uttered when the lights shone bright, the oldest three word phrase ‘I love you’ was met with claps, cheers and hoots. Someone even let out a shrill whistle. Works every time, doesn’t it? I thought to myself. Love did its business, of making cupids work, flowers bloom, scents dance in the air and the like. We had to give the audience its sugar before giving them their medicine, right?

Intermission was announced on a high note. Everyone was chirpy and chatty. Another ‘happily ever after story’, and we get our money’s worth, they must be thinking. But alas, an avalanche of emotions awaited them in act three. Smiles had settled on their faces, their muscles had relaxed. Enough song and dance, tragedy entered, interrupting the reverie. The hurricane that ensued, the gasps, the wide eyes, how people clenched their hands, caught the arms of the ones sitting beside them, this was the theatre in all its melodramatic grandeur.

People actually let out a sigh of relief as the act ended, it sounded like the waves had washed in to calm them down, accompanied by the soft breeze of lights dimming, followed by a long silence. They still had to endure act four. What would happen next? What did fate have in store? The scene opens with a single light casting a shadow, a familiar song played. A silhouette of times past. They look into each others eyes, knowing this is the last dance. As their hands parted, the audience didn’t seem to understand why.  Perhaps they were expecting serendipity. The last curtain was drawn. There was a brief moment of reflection, and then a murmur.  A call that grew louder. “Author!”. “Author!”.

I stumbled forward, lights blinding my eyes. A few steps out of the sidelines and my world had transformed. I had forgotten it was me. I thought I was a spectator of my own life. I thanked them for their admiration, I appreciated their applause. Each clap took me miles away, echoing inside chambers where no memory had lived for the longest time. Someone yelled a question, “Why such an end?”.

I quickly said “Just because it didn’t survive, doesn’t mean it wasn’t love”, bowed and exited. I didn’t want to start act five.


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