Return – Chapter 3

Breakfast consisted of a lot of catching up. “What are you reading these days?” I asked. She looked at me melancholically, as if an entire life ushered in front of her eyes. “Love Story,” she said. “The Erich Segal one?” I paused, “or the one we wrote?” I tried keeping my face straight. She blushed, and in an instance I was transported back to school. Her shy smile hadn’t changed a bit. “The Erich Segal one, you fool,” she smiled. We talked a lot about what happened in our lives in the past four years, shared lots of stories. She talked nonchalantly, her hair still auburn, a thousand clips placed tightly. It reminded me of the first time I had seen her, how she kept drawing petals and flowers on her notebook, and how far we had come from there. “You remember the Biology lab?” she asked. The biology lab was where our entire story started. “You think I can forget it?” I said, winking slightly. My mind kept shifting from memory to memory, sieving those which had her in them. It was astonishing how I remembered so much, when I had not given much thought to it for such a long time. She insisted that I tell her more about my college, and what I had been up to for the past four years. I could tell her the truth, this time I had nothing to lose, but somehow, I kept back most of the truth from the story. I told her a bit about my friends, and a bit about my college, only as much as was needed. We decided to go out for lunch in another two hours. I told her I would be back on time to pick her up. We hugged and waved good bye to each other.

The sun was up, shining ever so brightly. It was as if it rejoiced in my return. I went back home, knocked on the door, hoping she’d not close it on my face like she did a while ago. I had my plan ready; I would hug her as soon as she opened the door, giving her no time to shut it on my face. As I retraced my steps, it began to rain. It was only a drizzle first, a pitter-patter, but I stood there, in the middle of the street, rejoicing the rain, as it washed away the dust on the streets, and from the memories that lay stacked in my brain for so many years. It reminded me of the days when I went to school during the monsoons. I still remember the faint white tube-lights of the classroom switched on even though it was early in the morning, and the smell of the mud never allowing me to concentrate in the class, my eyes always shifting from the blackboard to the skies outside, black and grey, dull and gloomy, yet happier than what the teacher was teaching. And how that changed later, when though it rained, the only place my eyes went were her eyes, and the teacher kept running through huge courses I had no idea of. But that was a lifetime ago. Those need not have bothered me anymore, not more than the fact that I would never grow young again, and never relive those moments; etched deep in my thoughts, like engravings on stone, made with other stones, proclaiming love in the forts and on the trees, so that people around the world knew who you were; the wish to be famous. It was queer how we never became famous for our good acts, and some, like us, never got any fame, remained in the backgrounds, forever working for those who received all the fame, and yet I didn’t regret. And suddenly I realized, the rain had stopped. I needed to do some serious business now. And so I walked.

I went back home, only to find the door locked. I waited outside, for an hour, and another, and then another, but she didn’t come. Where could she have gone? She was here this morning. I felt an eerie sense of disownment. Maybe it was never destined to be so. Our lives had separated, and no matter how hard I tried, probably nothing good would ever come out of it. Our relationship was like a thread, once broken; I tried knotting it up, and making it one whole piece again, but that knot… that knot was there, and howsoever hard I tried, the knot would be there. To remove the knot would mean to break the thread again, and I had to choose one over the other. But the knot was hurting, it hurt a lot. And so I needed to break the thread, even if it meant losing someone dear, someone close to the heart. For sometimes, it’s not the act, but the repercussions and the consequences that make you act towards it. And something similar was happening here. I got up, kicked the door one last time, though nothing really changed, and strolled off. I had to be on time for lunch.

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