“Enter title here”

An age has passed. There was no party (or parties) to mark its beginning. There was no clinking of glasses, delivery of an “off-the-cuff” speech or even a pause in the midst of life to celebrate its end.

Love has been relegated to a mere footnote. Its ideal, which once flirted unabashedly in his heart and head, has been buried at the graveyard of romanticism; by the side of its tombstone lay the dreams that never came to pass.

Messages about how, as a man ages his need to settle down with a spouse drastically decreases, become louder than before. The desire for a female companion, naked or not, in bed at the end of another long day has dwindled to the point of being close to nothingness. The soothing female voice, with a hidden request for a cuddle, he craved – as a salve for the pains that everyday life brings – is now merely a fantasy.

Fairy tales lay dead. Promises fade. Hopes – once bright, glittery and sparkling – are replaced by dour and marginally unhappy ones.

Do we live in hope for genuine joy one day or for the sake of giving genuine joy to people we love? He’d ask himself sometimes, in the dark, in bed but never in tears.

“Thanks bro. Appreciate your friendship.”

He wondered if anyone could find the right response to that under such circumstances. In the context of the conversation (over Whatsapp), he knew there was an unwelcome hint in there that spelled an end to something. It was as though the writer of the two sentences has long picked up his shovel and heaped mounds of dirt on that something.

It was scant comfort, but he argued that at least the writer announced his departure when almost everyone crept quietly out of the door.

If there was anything he learnt in the past three years, reminiscence usually brings more pain and sadness than that sigh of relief.

“Why don’t you meet me this sat and review your criteria again?”

If anything, this is his last throw of the proverbial dice. Fate will deal him another six tries. Every day that passes brings him closer to the unattractive age of being in his forties. By then, there’s no youth to speak of. And having a life lived solitary beckons.

He still feels something whenever he sees that white envelope marked with the blue logo of an airline. He remembers 13 February 2012, when his heart fluttered, if only for those few hours. He was reminded of that look on her face – a telling indication that ends all hopeful beginnings of a fairy tale; and he has seen so many of them plastered on the faces of women he met. And that New Year’s Day, when she left him standing by the taxi stand and his text messages unanswered.