My Muse

by Ant Stone on April 30, 2008

in India

As I sit and write, I am alone. Reb, the girl I’ve coined ‘my muse‘, my ‘garrulous pillion‘, my ‘ubiquitous sidekick‘, but never the truth – for literary mystery – my girlfriend, is gone. She sits in Singapore. I sit in India. Eight months prior, in China, we exchanged our preconceived views on those who fell into a relationship versus our destiny of travelling solo. We agreed they were foolish, that our trips were first and foremost and if we were to meet anyone they would have to fit like stray islands to our stubborn coastlines. We laughed, before taking a solitary moment to look at our reflections in the night bus window, to try and convince ourselves it’s how we really felt. The next three months, the kisses and telltale looks were under ‘Mission Secret Squirrel’, we cloaked the unthinkable from everyone – that we’d fallen for each other. After a six week goodbye, we accidentally-on-purpose found ourselves sharing Christmas together and the squirrel was demoted. We were a couple. We laughed at our Chinese prophecies, and I proudly held her hand in front of friends and family alike. Four months later I held the same hands, as they trembled. I kissed the moist, swollen pink lids of her eyes and broke my final promise. I looked back.

It’s an idyllic situation. You’re single. She’s single. You’re in a foreign land where your mates can’t show you up and hers can’t steal the show. You automatically have something in common, it’s easy. It’s more than a holiday romance, it’s less than a shared bank account. Before you’re even aware, you’re living together. Not in a two-up-two-down in a picturesque village with it’s own cricket committee and a pub dripping pale pints of ale, but in the ragged hotels of the East. You wake together, breakfast, lunch and dinner together, see the sights and conquer frights. Together, in sickness and in health. Once again, it’s an idyllic situation. Unless. One of you decides to review their life and suddenly the other is dragged by the nostrils to the sacrificial fires. ‘Get rid of it, I can’t think straight, just get rid of it!’ At home, you would ring your mate to share too many warm pints of ale, meanwhile she would cut her hair and snog your best mate. But travelling, you’re both denied. You’re both alone. Very much, alone, and suddenly you have two things in common.

I’m at the stage where everything I see, touch, smell or hear somehow comes back to Reb; the girl whose heart I tore. The reasons and all The Little Things will forever be kept in the forbidden cache of my wayward mind. All that’s to say, is our relationship wasn’t at the expense of bad reasons, the lady is innocent. In the embers of the fire that separated our blameless blend, I will forge the finest reasons for forgiveness. Reb gave me this chance. It’s not the first time a relationship has fallen to the might of travel, nor indeed the second. Three vixens lay victim to an urge within me to rebel, and follow the hazy horizon. Only, for Reb, the theory is somewhat inverted. When I find what it is I’m looking for, I hope I’m lucky enough to find someone with as much passion, verve and magnificence as the girl I just glanced back at.

For now, amid the hurt, the guilt, the self-hate and all the other Heartbreaker Commandments I feel a sense of relief. A release. The hardest thing I’ve had to do on The Trail, is done. Like it, or lump it. I can exhale, wipe my eyes and look forward. With the sun setting not just on times of blinding se… excellence, mother, and pillows plagued with pleasure, but also on the stage of the ‘Coward’s Kiss’, on India. Four of the last six months have been in this blighted beauty. Am I done with Mother India? In the off-the-beaten-track towns and cities of recent times, I’ve been relishing Indian cuisine like I suspect Worzel relished matches. I’ve become passive where I was once irate. I’m taking up to six showers a day to escape the heat, and maybe subconsciously the stares. I’m reading about cricket and when affirming questions I say ‘ahh‘ and wobble my head around the axle of my nose. I’ve stopped getting sunburned and my tan has faded with my memories of Sri Lanka. I consider a good hotel room, to be one with a light switch above my headboard and I never pass a rupee until Gandhi’s wise old eyes are facing upwards. This country has consumed me, she is the dirt beneath my nails and the conductress of my emotions. So, am I done with Mother India? Drag her to the sacrificial fires boy, I can’t bloody think straight!


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