Return – Chapter 5

Sometimes things happen, and we do not really realize their importance until long after. As I now think of my past, so many events stand out in my mind, which at that point were simply instances, nothing important enough to remember, just moments. But those moments are what have made me what I am today, or at least attribute to it in some way or the other. And somehow a majority of the moments lead up to the same end point. Irtiqa. How I wish that it were untrue, and that there were more than one meaning to my life. I remember the first time I took her out for ice-cream. I loved a particular combination of flavors, and was exhilarated to make her try it, and she had looked at the icecream with disdain. She did not like it one bit. Chocolate was better. That was one of the first moments when I had realized that maybe things are not so common as we had thought they were. But what harm could it be? After all, an ice-cream flavor never disrupted anything, and we were too mature for that. Only, we were not.

Irtiqa. There was something about that name. And that something had kept me away from Shaena too long. I was not meant to do any of this. But then again, who could ever imagine that we would ever meet again, after the way we parted four years ago — she suddenly pulled me back. I had not realized I was crossing the road and that a car was headed towards me. I looked back at her. She asked, “What would have happened if I weren’t there here right now?” And I replied, “That could not have been.” She smiled. She knew. She knew what was going on in my mind. But she would never own up to it. She was too proud for that. And so was I. We already knew we had embarked on the wrong path yet once again, but somehow we had decided we would continue to walk.

“We should go drinking sometime,” she said. “I will make you vomit out every secret that you keep from me.” I smiled. She still did not know anything about that night. It is queer how intoxication can be a boon sometimes. Perhaps that is why people get drunk, to be themselves. They know they do not have the guts to unmask themselves when they are in their wits, but they desperately want to unmask themselves. And that is why they drink. That is why I drink. I remember the last time I was drunk. It was a total fiasco. I always drink only till I know I am okay. After that I stop. This one time, I did not. I wanted to lose my senses for once. I wanted to be just me for once. No limiting boundaries. People think that drunk people usually speak truthfully and that it is best to make them ogle out whatever they might have buried in their hearts. And that is somewhat true. Only, sometimes we lie so much to ourselves that the lie gets buried deep within, and we start thinking that it is true. And there lies the problem. We have moulded ourselves into something that we wish were true, and have believed in the alternate theory so much that it seems a part of our reality.

I dropped her at her home, but decided to stay out for a while. As I walked, the breeze blew through my hair. It was a starry night. The river shone brightly, lit up by the street lights and the stars and the moon. I sat on the bank, the cold water lapping against my feet. In a restaurant a few blocks ahead, someone was singing folk songs. I checked my phone, the battery was dead. There was nothing else that I could want at this moment. Nothing more, nothing less. I think I was happy. I was satisfied by my life, even though it had nothing to give, because I was too full to take anything more, like a tumbler full of water. The friend I had met in the morning crossed paths once again. “How was it?” he asked, not waiting for an answer. He knew I would say it was okay, irrespective of how it was. Sometimes it is foolish to anticipate anything out of anyone. And we had both learned that, the hard way. He left after a while, when he realized I had nothing more to say. I walked back to Shaena’s house. She opened the door, but blocked it. “What troubles you so much?” she asked. “Tell me or I will stop talking to you.” Déjà vu. Was she still so kiddish? “Are you seriously gonna do that, now, again?” “No, I am joking. But you need to tell me. I am a friend, believe me, I am, and will be. We are past all that now, and I promise nothing of that sort will ever happen again.”

Perhaps I took a wrong decision at that very moment.

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