It has been 3 years. Since I last saw you. Since your number flashed across my cell phone screen. Since we walked apart, each in a different direction and ended up in opposite parts of the world. You have removed me from your friends’ list on Facebook. I did not realise this for quite some time – until a mutual friend posted a picture of the two of you and while I was notified about her post, FB was silent about your presence. Curiosity piqued, I checked my friends’ list. You did not feature there. I visited LinkedIn. Nothing there as well. You have been thorough. Now there is nothing tying us together in cyber space just as there are no ties remaining in this flesh-and-bone world. Yet just three days ago, a popular ecard site sent me a reminder that your birthday was around the corner and that I should send you a card. Is this an omen? Does it mean that invisible threads still remain when all seems sundered? Or is it just canny marketing by an online company?
Time and distance have blurred the bitterness and negativity I had once felt about you and our relationship. I find that I have forgotten most of the bad stuff now or maybe I have become so far removed from the reality of those, that it no longer pinches me where it hurts. The good stuff does not bother me as well. Truth be told, I had been more worried about the happy memories than the bad ones. But now those memories seem as though they belong to a sepia-tinged vacation taken decades ago.
There are times, of course, when three years disappear in the blink of an eye. After all, three years is not much when you think of a lifetime – it is just a little over a thousand days. I spy someone crossing the road from the other side and suddenly I think it is you. Even though my rational mind knows that there is perhaps a one in a million chance of us meeting accidentally, my heart clenches in a kind of terror. I feel unprepared to face you again. Then I see that it is not you at all and my heart slowly resumes its steady beat.
Despite a few such occurrences, I have moved on. You have been replaced by others–as the nominee on my insurance policies and as the protagonist in my dreams. You are no longer the person I think of calling up the moment something out of the ordinary happens to me. I do not think obsessively about the past anymore. I remember for the first year apart, the fact that I found most disquieting was that when in a discussion with friends or colleagues, I would, out of force of habit, bring you up in conversations as though you were my present and not my past. All my thoughts and opinions appeared tinted by you-coloured glasses. I guess ten years of knowing someone can do that to you. Now I can voice my own opinions and it is only on a few rare occasions that I find what I have spoken are actually echoes of your voice from the past.
You have moved on as well. The mutual friend I had mentioned before posted some pictures last year’s festive season. A number of those photos featured you and your new wife. Well, perhaps not very new. I have no way of knowing. I looked at the girl. She was laughing and seemed happy. You looked happy as well. So I have been replaced too. It all felt a bit weird for the first couple of minutes when I gazed at the picture. But then I felt gladness that you have found happiness again. I want you to know that I am really happy for you.
In my mind, I imagine myself doing that which I will never do in real life any more. I give in to the urgings of the ecard website and send you a birthday greeting. I guess there is no relationship specific card for an ex. So a generic one has to suffice. It has perhaps a bland picture of a cake, candles and flowers. The message is simple but heart-felt. “Wish you a very Happy Birthday. Enjoy this day and the rest of your life – A well-wisher. ”