I Hate the Love I Feel for You (after Rina Rocha)

I hate the love I feel for you

Not because you don’t deserve it

That much is evident from your prolonged absences

And casual insertions of self

Into the otherwise spacious parentheses of my day

I hate the love I feel for you

Because it’s a sign of my weakness

I’m not talking feminine weakness

The stereotypical pining-after, incessant self-interrogation

(Did I do something wrong? Does

he love me anymore? Am I

worthy of his love? What did I

do to deserve it and

how can I remain deserving?

Have I ever been deserving?

How could he want someone like me,

after all?), and bitter regrets

I’m talking the weakness that turns self against self

Stems the warm flood of passionate questions

Cools the yearning river bed of the soul

Which longs for a soft communion

I’m talking about the weakness that leads me to abandon myself

To accept only the mirror-image version of me

Flat and vapid

Reflected in your eyes that are incapable of seeing

My love is not conditional—it is eternal and unchanging

It is a sigh that emerges from my hollow throat

Destined never to die but to merely find itself

Radiating outward to the lonely reaches of space and time

Until it becomes a whisper

An unfathomable hum always on the verge of perishing

But never quite getting there


Is all around me

My love was once a tether to something real

A golden thread revealing the subtle architecture of an intimate and gentle universe

And then it turned into a sour god

Who banished me to this hell of perpetual distance

To dark mazes of rooms in which I am in constant pursuit

But all I see is the back of your head as you close another door behind you

I hate the love I feel for you

Because it takes me further from me

I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a New York–based writer, editor, book midwife, theater artist, and mythmaker.

As someone who has woven in and out of a number of different word realms—nonprofit communications, advertising, theatre, publishing, and community arts, to name a few—I know that liberation is possible through the stories we choose to tell. As a first-generation South Asian American, I myself exist in the liminal spaces between cultures, art forms, and languages—and it is this multiplicity of narratives that informs my personal and professional approach.

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