By Devjani BodepudiI sit here alone. I’m on a park bench and the skies are blue. I’m supposed to be working but these days my heart’s just not in it. I give and give and give and all I get back are ungrateful tears, heartache, betrayal. Love is just not the business it used to be. Back in the day, people stayed together, they were thankful, a kiss meant something. These days, I can do the deed, make some magic happen and then it’s gone, fizzled out.
I have lost track of how long it’s been this way, or even why it’s become this way. If I could make an educated guess, I’d say television didn’t help.
I go around, making people look good for others, more long-lasting than beer-goggles, mind you, and it’s all for nothing. People forget that they are supposed to work at things. It’s not easy being in love and a lot of the time it’s not about the feeling of having your guts wrenched out every time your object of love leaves the room. A lot of the time it’s the quiet knowing that the object of your love is going to come back, for you.
A couple of joggers move across my field of vision. “They’d be good,” I think to myself but I can’t summon the strength. I think I’m depressed. I’ve read about it. I do feel pretty sad, I don’t feel like getting out of bed in the mornings and getting ready, but I don’t really have a choice. I know I look fabulous—it comes with the job—but I hate my weight. I hate my job. There, I’ve said it.
Perhaps there’s someone I could see about it. Who do I even contact to move department? Will someone be able to replace me? I’ve had this job since, well a good few million years, give or take a few millennia? I don’t know. What if I just dropped out?
I get off the bench and decide to head to somewhere less crowded. Too many people, too many, wasted possibilities.
What is love anyway? What is the point of me? I’ve asked myself this in the past and I’ve always stopped myself before it got too late. You know, before I got so depressed that I wanted to slit my wrists.
When I make people fall in love, when I tie two people together with the magical thread I carry in my handbag, what I’m really doing is making calculations, using complex (not that complex, really) algorithms to determine the best possible outcome for the two people concerned, evolutionarily of course. For example, take a really short, yet gorgeous woman falling for a really tall man, who wears spectacles whilst wearing a t-shirt with a mildly geeky reference printed on the front, which shows off his modest yet definitely apparent muscle tone and put them together.
The outcome of the two—the product, I should say—will be a highly intelligent, pleasant looking, tallish person. The human race will continue to flourish, all thanks to me.
What about the gays, you ask. Well, let’s just say that’s me hoping for the best. Honing my skills. But even that doesn’t always last. Like I’ve said, staying in love is hard work!
Now take the example of loving your children; I’m there for that too. From the moment the little rugrat is conceived I’ve sprinkled a little magic dust and, hey presto! you’re in love! I’m keeping the human race alive with that one; neglectful parents leave big messes.
Loving your parents? Easy. I have absolutely nothing to do with that one. You can thank my friends, Guilt and Nostalgia, if they can be bothered to turn up. No one really loves their parents. Without Guilt and Nostalgia, you’d take them up a mountain to die!
There is nothing romantic or starry about me, and that’s why I’m down, I suppose. I used to be special. People used to write songs about me, really beautiful ones and these days it’s all, “nah-nah-na-nah, sexy something something…” with a beatbox rhythm and skimpy gold bikini-clad models writhing strangely around a very cold-looking man with a hat. What exactly is that supposed to inspire?
People have stopped believing in me too, although they’ll never admit it, but you can see it in their eyes. They look at their partners and laugh at a joke but the light’s not there. Perhaps I’ve lost my touch, my mojo. They question why they’re together, what they have in common. They stay for the children. Some don’t. I can’t do anything about that. I’m a one-time thing.
I’ve been walking for a while now and I find myself at a door. I walk through it. Closed doors don’t matter to me. I’m in a waiting room and there are a few people I recognise. There’s Joy, Nervousness, Hope and Guilt and Nostalgia—I’ve mentioned those two before—and there’s Lust and Sadness too. They don’t usually sit together but there they are, heads together, quite pally, if that can be believed.
They all look up and nod in my direction. Joy is positively beaming and almost stands up to hug me before Hope holds her back. Hope smiles. I like Hope. She’s always there when you need her the most, but I haven’t seen a lot of her lately.
I sit down and wait. I think I know why I’m here. A second door opens and a smallish woman, with a short bob and a clipboard summons us in.
“Welcome,” she says. Her voice is annoyingly nasal and I dislike her instantly. “Thank you for all being here. As you know, there’s been request.”
I look around. I don’t recall a request, but I think I know what she’s talking about. This must be what happens when people desire a transfer.
I’ve got butterflies. I’m sitting next to Nervousness. I shift my weight slightly away from him and feel somewhat better.
“Love wants to move on,” says the woman with the clipboard.
Sighs and mutterings rise around the room and I’m feeling slightly guilty. Guilt winks at me. I ignore him.
“So we’re here to try and work things out.”
I’m ready to say that I’ve changed my mind, that it was just a little wavering of self-esteem and I’d be happy to go back to work and waving my magic wand, but Nasal Clipboard Woman is still talking.
“I can see that your output has been less than satisfactory, anyway, Love. People aren’t gushing with sonnets and free-verse as much as say, ten years ago.”
“Who writes sonnets these days anyway?” I quip, trying for a joke.
No response. Deadpan silence. I feel humiliated. That one’s real.
“We’ve decided we don’t require your services anymore. All who are present and willing to stand in, raise your hand.”
They all do. They all raise their hands. Sadness is smiling. I don’t understand how he could help at all.
“Well that’s settled then.”
“Excuse me, what does that mean? What shall I do?” I ask.
But no sound escapes me. I’m gone.