Unclaimed Hearts by Anushree Srivastava

How often do we hear people say that they lost a part of themselves and never really got it back? Where, then, do these pieces of us go?

There’s hardly anyone who can claim to have never loved. It’s not always the romantic love that consumes us. A big part of being human lies in allowing others to come into your life and change it with their presence. Resist, we may try to, but the vulnerability of our desires seldom keeps up the many walls that we build around ourselves. They say that love can burn you and yet we love with our all. We love our family, our friends, our pets, our partners, and so many others who walk into our lives. As always, change remains the only constant. A time comes when we must part with someone we love, be it through the circle of life or due to the sheer ruthlessness of it that the quality of evolution that made us the smartest species is also the curse that ensures that we keep growing. Sometimes it’s about growing up into something and at others, it’s about growing out of something else. It’s the latter that tugs at our vulnerable side. How do we cope with the loss of the love that once wrapped us in its warmth?

As much as we may differ from each other, as humans, we are inherently tied by invisible strings that manifest as similarities in the responses we exhibit to particular moments. One such moment is when we sit under a clear night sky and look at the canopy of stars above us. I’ve always found it comforting how most of us look at the stars as if we are searching for something. We see shooting stars and we turn them into wishes. From where I come from, kids are often told that when our loved ones leave us, they become stars in the night sky. And we look on and make wishes when a star falls. As we grow older, we find solace in watching the sky as an escape from the drudgery of life. If everything around us is a part of this vast universe, who is to say that the pieces of us that we lose for love don’t stay on too? If all the love in the universe could find no way to escape, the pieces of our hearts that break away from us when we lose our love may just become a part of this universe. It’s like a giant bubble with us and our broken pieces floating around as we wait to feel whole again. When we lose a part of ourselves, we define new rules to live by. We tell ourselves to do better the next time and we remind ourselves that all is not lost. Yet, we feel incomplete. We ask ourselves to move on and to find happiness elsewhere and we keep trying to fit newer pieces into the void that was left with us. Sometimes the pieces appear to not fit so we convince ourselves that we can reshape the edges and make them fit. We call it a part of life- adapting to it. We roughen out the edges and start to polish them with time until the new piece fits. This new piece could be a new job or a new hobby or, perhaps, a new person. We make it fit because all we ever want is to feel complete. Do we then become whole again? Perhaps the lucky ones do. Luckier are the ones who have a poor memory.

In all of this, the pieces of our hearts which lay in the universe are waiting to be claimed. We hope for someone to bring those pieces back to us and make us whole again. We often feel empowered to get those pieces ourselves but the tragic beauty of love is that it claims a territory that can hardly be transferred. The pieces of our heart that we lose with a person are the pieces that surround us at all times and are yet out of our reach. We only ever try to tune out the sound of their beating. In medicine, there’s a term for a pain that one feels in an organ that’s no longer a part of the body. It’s called ‘phantom pain’. I wonder if we realize that we experience this pain when our hearts are broken. The piece of our heart is no longer with us and yet it pains. With time, we shape our hearts to fit differently and accept other pieces, but the heart is not the same as before. We call it growth, we say that time has changed us and that we’ve evolved. And something new fits and we give it our all. These pieces of our hearts never really leave us. When we look at the sky, we look at the universe, hoping to find ourselves, hoping to find the pieces that we lost, hoping to snatch them from the universe and make ourselves whole again. To think that our hearts are what constitute the universe, the broken pieces that were once bursting with love. Perhaps this is why we say that the universe is full of love. 

How often do we hear people say that they lost a part of themselves and never really got it back? Where, then, do these pieces of us go?