“Talk to me”, she grunted
“I want to play cricket. Please let me go.”
“You are not going”
“Sorry doll. Bye. Will be back soon.”
5 hours later…
“Don’t talk to me”
“Why don’t you ever feel what I feel? ?”
All of a sudden, I snap out of my dream and come back into reality just to experience the perennial hollowness within. The emptiness that seems to have made its abode in a greater part of my heart.
But I am used to it now. It is not harrowing. It is just a part of me.
After all, six years are long enough to get used to something.
It is my birthday today. But it is just another day. Just like any other morning, I wake up by her thought. As I get my senses on, I find everything mundane. Around me is the usual commotion. The same people and the same surrounding. Wittingly or unwittingly I don’t know, but I start gearing myself up for the rat-race; to work, to laugh and make others laugh. To pretend to be exuberant and make others believe the same.
It is the month of June. As I leave for the office, I see the sky replete with cloud cells ready to burst anytime. I think the monsoon has struck a bit soon this year. Nonetheless, I feel good about it. The first rain of the season has always been special because it brings with it an aura of love which I can feel all around me. It is cathartic. Emotions get the better of me in this part of the year as it revives plethora of moments of the past and makes me smile from the core of my heart no matter what the status quo is.
I have been walking for the last 15 minutes savouring the first drizzling of the season. Within a few minutes, I will be at MG Road Metro station. But at the moment, this rain is overpowering. I am consigned to my past. I think about the rains of 2011.
In no time, I become teary-eyed, but the tears are not painful. Not at all. They are simply the result of living the moments of the past a thousand times over.
I am so confined in those moments that I don’t even feel the ferocity of the downpour which has left me soaked and sodden.
It is only when someone jostles me that I come back to my senses. I stumble. I feel I am hit hard maybe because the fellow was rushing to avoid getting wet. And out of nowhere, I hear a voice. The voice of a girl. The voice so known to me. I frown. Standing a few metres away from me, she apologises for the bumping. And yet again, I am bewitched by her hazel eyes and chubby cheeks. She “is” the love of my life. She is the girl who invariably pesters me in dreams now. She is my milieu of the dream world. Just a dream world. She is Janhavi.
We are encountering each other after 6 years. 6 long years. Nonetheless, nothing seems to have changed over the period of time except my love for her which has grown by leaps and bounds with each passing day despite the stark truth that destiny has parted us. Nothing could replace that love. No amount of treachery, no amount of rudeness could consume my love for her. Perhaps, I am destined to live with this exorbitant void in my heart. Sometimes the void saps me emotionally and I try to get by it anyhow. But then, I am a mere human. I have to suffer. So, I say to myself- let this happen….. Let me pine. Let me yearn. Let me grow. Let me learn. To fall in Love and out of it.
I acknowledge her apology and greet her. She reciprocates the act. She gazes at me and finds me delirious. She holds my fist and makes me run to the metro station which is hardly a few meters from here.
We board the metro train. As we settle down, she rejoices,
“Many many happy returns of the day Ayaan”
Thanks, Janhavi, I reply.
“I hope you have forgiven me”, she advances ruefully.
“You never did anything for which I should forgive you”, I reply
“I know you hate me.”
“I don’t .”
“Didn’t you hate me for a moment even?” She asks ruefully
“I could not. You don’t regret. It happens.”
“I was wrong with you. I did wrong to you”, she continues
“It is just you could not tame your circumstances and emotions”
“You just never deserved that”
“If you rue, you will just weigh yourself down”
“I know you hate me. And I don’t rue it. All I rue is that you suffer.
This shouldn’t have happened to you.”
” I am okay. I am recuperating.
And to me, you are still the same. I don’t hate you because I just can’t.
I just want you to realise one thing. I might have done the things wrong, but my heart has never been wrong”
“I know you well and I know this very well”.
“Does it still hurt?” She asks in a plaintive tone
“You won’t understand”
“I will. Please.”
“I would be lying if I say I don’t miss you because the truth is, I yearn for you every single moment. It is just that a huge void has been created which can never be filled. It is expanding to such an extent that It is consuming my soul completely. Yes, I regret certain things, but I don’t regret my regrets. You have changed me in ways I could never have imagined. It’s good to feel pain because it keeps me bonded with myself. It allows me to be compassionate. To this day, I feel the fresh pain; I am obsessed and sick emotionally, but I learn to live with it now.”
The silence percolated through the air as I find myself short of words now.
After a little pause, I ask.
“In all these years, haven’t you thought about me even once?”
“I thought about you myriad times but could never gather the courage to face you”, she laments after a little pause.
There is a grim expression on our faces. We both are a bit disturbed. And as usual, she breaks the ice and, in an attempt to cheer me on, she asks,
“It’s your birthday today. Ask me for a gift!”
“Please do not say no. You must ask for something. I want you to be happy today.”
“I am tired of rejections. I am tired of unfulfilled wishes. So, I have stopped making any now.”
“I won’t disappoint you today. I promise I won’t “.
“I need a few hours of your life. I want to take you somewhere.” I blurt out.
“you can withdraw. You can deny. It is perfectly fine.”, I continue seeing her getting dumbstruck.
“No, even today I trust you the same way as I used to 6 years back. Let’s go.”
We both are speechless now. As our destination arrives, we deboard the metro.
Sometimes, not knowing the things is the best thing. You act natural.
As we walk through the metro station towards the parking to pick up my bike, I sense Janhavi invariably gazing at me. Maybe she is trying to figure out what is around the corner. Maybe she is trying to read my heart. Maybe I should respond to her quandary. But I don’t. I don’t respond to her confused gesture and keep on walking unfazed. I don’t know why I am keeping mum. But right now, I don’t bother about all that. I am just savouring the balmy drizzling and the aura of love it spawns. I just want to grab the moment and live it.
I get my bike out of the parking and stop right beside Janhavi. She settles in the back seat and signals me to move on. I accelerate the bike and head towards our Alma mater.
As soon as I think of this place, my heart inflates with memories for life. This place has been the best gift of my life thus far. This is the place which has made my life all the more beautiful. This is the place where I first met Janhavi. This is my school.
Today, As I approach my school having her by my side after a long time, I get nostalgic.
I stop by the canteen in the vicinity of our school. I look at Janhavi and then towards that canteen. Both of us are beside ourselves. I am sure the same emotions conjure up in our heart being at this place which evokes a beautiful past.
I recall how, at this canteen, I used to wait for her school bus to pass through just to get a glimpse of her jolly face and how she used to acknowledge my gesture secretly with a bewitching smile on her face. This was more than enough to boost my adrenaline. Maybe words are just not enough to describe what it feels like to be loved by someone you love. There is always more in us than we express. Standing here again today after 6 years, I get the same thrill. Looking back, All I feel is Nostalgia. Indeed, those were the days.
We look at each other. We are speechless. Failing to rope in words to describe what we are feeling at the moment, we just grin to not let the emotions get the better of us.
We move on. As we enter the main gate of our school and walk through the parking lot, I see our past right in front of me. I see myself in my school dress roaming around in the parking lot loitering with friends and trying to figure out her bus until I find it and see her cherishing every single moment with exuberance. Just a glimpse of her gives me goosebumps even today. So enamoured I am by her.
After a while, I see Janhavi having tears rolling out her eyes. I wipe them out. We both are smiling but unable to contain the waters in our eyes. We are not exchanging many words yet going through the same streak of emotions. Today, words are not needed to exchange our thoughts. This place and our past are expressing our emotions more than our words can. The smile and the tears say it all.
Cherishing the drizzling, we stroll towards the basketball court and recall the days of yore when I used to bunk my classes to see her playing basketball and she used to get overjoyed by my presence there.
I wish we could go back in time and do that all over again. Drape ourselves in that school dress and bunk the classes, play basketball together, I sneak into your classroom on the pretext of going to the washroom, meet in secret and rove each other near the canteen during lunch and after school. I walk after you and you walk after me. Alas! this is never going to happen again. After all, we are grown up now and are supposed to act mature. There is no place for innocence. Nonetheless, just a thought of doing this has made me ecstatic.
Listening to this, Janhavi laughs her heart out. I follow suit.
I don’t remember when this happened last. I really don’t. But right now, I am cherishing every moment. It feels like it just happened yesterday.
“We have come too long Ayaan! Too long to get back,” Janhavi exclaims realising the burned bridges.
“Indeed.”, I respond with a tinge of sadness in my heart.
Thanks for letting me relive the most beautiful moments of my life and giving me a lot more.
No matter how many people you have around you, sometimes it is that one person only whose presence means everything. Rest all is nothing. Nothing. Such is the dominance of feelings.
She remains silent. After a little while, she cuddles me.
I lose myself to her warmth yet again.
A time comes we become vulnerable to our love no matter what.
With this, we make our way back to our parted ways.
Pain too can be comforting.
More than presence, feelings matter. These feelings make our life worthwhile. Some people may not be there by our side but just a thought of theirs’ gives us reason to wake up every day.