Of Conversations With A Stranger (2)

“Why are you here all alone? Got no friends or acquaintances?”, an elderly gentleman joined her as she sat gazing at the sky with earphones stuck in her ears.

“Me? I am a loner. Infact, I like it this way. This is a peaceful place and I don’t like chaos to intervene.”

“And you think people are intruders?”

“Ofcourse not. I mean, yes. But not everyone”

“Then?”

“I haven’t just met that person yet.”

“Met who?”, the man seemed curious.

“The one who will rather act as a conversationalist like me.”

“Haha. You mean your soulmate?”

“Ah. Nah. That’s too mainstream, don’t you think?”

“Mainstream? Why? What would you refer that person as then?”

“My peace-mate, most probably?”, she blushed.

The man gave an experienced grin. Like, he had known the answers to all her queries since ages.

“There’s peace only where you want it to be. Peace lies within you.”

“Oh, I see”, she seemed to have been mesmerized by his speculative thought.
“I would actually wish for one thing then”.

“Yes?”

“Somebody I can be myself with.”

“That’s exactly who we call soulmate, my dear”, he patted her head and walked away briskly. 

Of Time And Togetherness

She stood there, leaning against the balcony wondering what went wrong. How did she end up like that? How did she end up fearing commitment? So afraid that she preferred pushing people away. Umm. Why? The flickering of the street lights and the barking of the dogs seemed disturbing though. She stared down at the lonely Road. She could feel connection. She had been given and denied trust so many times, so many times had she been misunderstood and made fun of that she was in a dilemma. Sarcasm or truth? Well, isn’t sarcasm a little bit of truth put in a funny way? How was she supposed to understand the complexity of human mind? Especially, of those who she considered so dear.

But was she supposed to let her past experiences compel her not to trust? True, she has seen things, felt them and even carries bitter memories that makes her smile hopelessly when she narrates them. “How can she smile like that ?”, he often wonders. Equally broken, this guy feels a connection too. For a change, it’s like he finally found monogamy, his anchor. “No more, she’s had enough”, tells this to himself every night before going to sleep after she does. As if someone up there was waiting for them since ages to awkwardly tumble onto each other. Both discover each other’s fear every other day, they fight, they laugh, even cry. Together. Strong word. People envy them. “Won’t last”, they say.  Living life without each other so far, when they finally found each other? They decided not to live their life for people. “For us”, they smile. She fears commitment given that she has been in and out of a rollercoaster commitment ride, he on the other hand had only watched people puke and fall off the roller-coaster ride. Both have had lost faith in the idea. But what they have is something too deep to be assigned a term. People talk, people try, they even obsess themselves with her. “I think they should know  you’re not available”. Hearing just this her fears start surfacing, so does his.

Would this lead to another indefinite round of shrewd instances? Would they spend the night digging up old memories? The important question was always, would it change things? Surprisingly. It always did, changes things for better, strengthens the bond as if they are slowly becoming inseparable. Completing each other in every aspect they stand by each other when giving up was their Forte. They never knew, until they took the leap of faith. 
Feeling nippy she goes inside, closing the balcony door behind her. Putting his red-black striped hoodie she picks up her phone, types something while smiling and hits send.
“Hey”. He smiled glancing at his phone when it buzzed.

Of Almosts

..pulling her hand, to the tune of the rustling autumn breeze, he runs to the crooked, little wooden bench and they both sit. smelling the enticing taste of roasted apples that waltz past them. he almost says it, almost. the words are right at the tip. and almost out there. slowly slipping off the edge. staying a while. threatening to spill.

she tugs at his shirt and his eyes burn into hers as she looks up at him. her dark pupils gleam with curiosity as he studies her, gulping, lingering a while and slowly breathing out.

as the noises come closer, his breaths become more frantic. he pushes past the words threatening to flow out, dreams glistening in his radiant blue eyes that never fail to amaze her. they hold a sincerity, so profound that she can feel herself live the stories that his eyes hold.

“that’s all you wanted to tell me?” she mumbles, her eyes holding hope. she tastes hope. and anxiety. and fear. sweet and sour and a million things more.

and he almost says it, but doesn’t.

“yes, that’s it. it was nothing.”

isn’t there more? she wants to ask almost. but, doesn’t.

and he turns away and looks at the sun. purple and orange and darker tones. and she looks away and watches the sunset too. a sunset of a million hopes and the one story she was almost sure of. almost.

(Image credits – Siddharth Mohanty)

Of Things Left Unsaid

I looked at him, my eyes pricking with heavy tears. A blinding headache was slowly making it’s way, and I sat there with throbbing temples and an almost breaking heart.

“You- you’ll leave?” I spoke slowly, holding on to the slightest hope that he might just laugh it off and say that he’d been kidding.

He shrugged and looked at me.

“I have to,” he muttered.

“But-,” I shouted. He waited for me to say something but suddenly, I could find no words to fill in where I left.

“Say something?” he pleaded. “Please, anything. But just don’t sit silently.”

I nodded. Pushing myself up from the bench, I stood facing the withering autumn forest and the sunset that slowly approached. With every shade of orange that turned darker, I broke a little more inside, because time was flying by.

“I told you,” I whispered. “I told you not to apply for that freaking program because heck, I knew you’d get through. You’re a bloody genius! I knew you’d ace the exams and then you’d have to go! That is why I told you not to apply for it!”

“But,” he interrupted, “you had mentioned some other reason! You told me not to apply because you wanted us to apply for some other program!”

“I lied!” I spoke. “I lied. Would it have stopped you from applying had I said I didn’t want you to leave? That I was afraid of losing you? That I just can’t imagine a day without you? And that would have stopped you? No! We’re grown ups now! We’ve to take decisions for our own lives! And no, no matter how great a reason I’d have given you, you’d have left anyways! You do that! You leave!”

Falling back on the bench, I buried my face in my hands and cried. Shoulders heaving, my hair plastered against my cheeks in a mess of sweat and dirt, I cried because I knew he was leaving and that he’d never return back. What hurt even more was he didn’t even try to console. He had always been there to hold me when I cried. But today, even when he sat only inches away from me, somehow it seemed like he was so far away. Like he was slowly moving away from me.

“You’re being too immature,” he retorted.

I shook my head and between brimming tears, I laughed.

“See, I knew you’d say this!” I said, looking up at him and smiling. “There was a time when you were the immature one! And you’d come running to me for advice! And now, here you are, leaving in a couple of hours and I’m suddenly the immature one?”

Taking a deep breath, I continued.

“Yes, you’re probably thinking now as to why I’m acting like this. Things will be totally fine, won’t they? There’s phones and internet and Skype. Heck, what could even go wrong? But you don’t know my stories! I’ve been through a whole lot of situations like this! People change. They change. Time and place changes them. I know! I’ve changed. My old friends say so. And you’ll change too. I don’t want that. I don’t want you to leave.”

“But we’ll be fine!” he said.

“How?” I cried. “What about the Sundays? What about our plans? What about the parties? I can’t imagine a single one of them without you! But does it even matter to you? No! Because you’re going to a new place! There you’ll meet newer people, may be a few who are better than me. You’ll forget. And then one day, we’ll meet somewhere and there’ll be nothing to say! And no, no matter how many times you say me that is not going to happen with us, I’ll not believe you.”

The rest of the things were a blur. All I remember was him standing up and muttering a goodbye while I got into my car and cried. He left. He never called me once. And I never did too. It was surprising because never had I thought I’d get over him so quickly. It felt strange. It felt bad. But somewhere, it felt better.

Then one day, we met again. He had come back to the town during his vacations and we ran into each other at the ice cream parlour.

“Hey,” he greeted me.

“Hi,” I smiled back.

Then, both of us turned away and placed our orders.

“How have you been?” he asked.

“I’ve been great,” I replied. I lied again. Somehow, even though I had convinced myself that I had gotten over losing my best friend, it hurt ten times more, standing in front of him, seeing him all changed.

“And you?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he muttered. “I’ve changed.”

“We all do,” I smiled. “When are you leaving? I thought if you’re in town for the next couple of days, we could may be hang out?”

“I’m not going back,” he said.

“But it’s only been three months!”

“I’m not going back.”

“Why?”

“Because, I don’t want to. Yes, we’re grown ups, but I don’t want to go anywhere without you. There’ll always be better chances in life. But this place, you people, you’re worth every missed chance. I’m back. I’m back for you,” he said. “And no, there’s never going to be a moment when we meet somewhere and have nothing to say.”

Over melted scoops of butterscotch ice cream and heartbreaks, we talked like there’s never going to be a tomorrow.

Of Moving On

Do you ever think about moving on? What does it mean? How can someone possibly trust another person after one’s trust is broken? How can they share the same secrets with someone after it has been revealed by the one person they blindly trusted? Isn’t it hard? Yet, that’s what we do. We mourn for sometime, explain ourselves and reason everything out and create trust. Create, yes. Why? How? Because we keep looking. We don’t want to lose hope. Because we believe that there is someone actually better than ourselves. Someone who will keep our trust safe, secure our secrets and understand our fears. I tell you it’s not an easy task. It needs you to muster all your strength and sanity. It requires a lion’s heart. It does. But, it’s not something one should be afraid of. Because, letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you know what you decide, how you choose to live your life is going to define you and not the person you’re moving from. So, what we do is: We ignore the past, pretending as if it was just a bad dream and we move on.

Of Heartbreaks

It felt cold. Almost numb and unfeeling.
There he stood, chatting away with my friend, staring down at her with a shine in his eyes I’d never seen. And to a corner, I stood, clutching the straps of my bag, biting my lips and looking down at my worn out red sneakers.

I heard them laugh. I watched them hold each other’s hand. And somewhere in that moment, a silent tear slipped down my cheek. Why, wasn’t it the very same guy I had been pining for since the last month, dreaming like a typical teenager, falling trap to his charms. How did I miss out the fact that every time he talked to me, his eyes never met mine, for he kept looking for somebody else? How did I not see the tiny little hints my friend left with me to tell him, and yet I hopelessly fell in love with somebody who could never love me?

Bringing a hand to my cheek, in the pretext of wiping my nose, I wiped away the stray tear and smiled.

“Why are you standing there?” he called, his voice so happy that it made me cringe.

“Yes! Come here, you idiot!” she called too.

A part of me kept breaking and the other part silently picked up the pieces. I felt like turning around and walking away, but I knew I’d cry. So, I walked closer to them and flashed them a grin that hurt me so much to tell.

“See,” she proudly declared, “She is the reason why we both are together now! Had she not helped, I’d have never met an amazing person like you.”

He looked up and laughed, his knees slightly bending and his hands in his pockets. I fell in love with that too.

“Well, there’s always this angel,” he gave me a grateful smile and I smiled back.

With each smile I managed to put up that was not so real, a part of me withered away and I realized it would never be the same.

“Seriously, you’ve been such a great friend to both of us! We can never think of ways to thank you enough,” he said again.

I shook my head and despite myself, I laughed.

“You’re making this so awkward! You both are in love with each other! So, celebrate! I’ll leave you alone now,” I said and the corners of my lips quivered. “I’ll meet you people tomorrow.”

Ten minutes later, I sat on the empty tennis court, clutching my jacket tight and breathing in too deep. It felt numb. I wanted to cry, but I only managed to cough.

Somebody came around and hugged me close.

“How does it feel?”

“Like shattered pieces of glass that can never be put back.”

Of Sad Days

I wanted to write something happy today – something about finding rainbows beyond a cloud; about mirthful summers and early springs; about happiness. I wanted to write happy things and be happy.

But there’s a storm raining down upon my heart. Inside, I’m wrecking; breaking into several pieces. But does anybody realize that? No. I hide it all behind a sheer pretence. I laugh. I giggle. I look around at people. When tears prick at my eyes, I blink away. But on particularly lonely moments, when the streetlights no longer shine brightly, I sit down on the pavement and I cry my heart out.

There’s a storm raining down upon my heart. It’s been long since I saw the sunshine last. I’m waiting for the rays to break through the darkness and enter my house. I want to believe that yes, it’ll be there…soon. I want to write happy things until then – about hope. But there’s a storm razing inside me, shattering every hope of mine. So, until the dawn arrives, I sit and write another sad story about a sad day.

Of As Time Flies

There will come a time when all the butterflies in your stomach will start needing rest, when you will get bored of the daily phone calls and messages, when you will spend the least time to decide how to look good or maintain a good impression. This saturation point, what is it for? What about the urge to get stars for her if she wanted them? What happened to that beautiful face you , so willingly, showed off to all your friends? What about the long conversations with your best friend telling every little detail of the slightest of sweet things he did for you? What happened to that rush in your veins when you were about to meet? Doesn’t happen anymore? It’s faded, right? The chirpy, little things will start screaming the shit outta you. Ever wondered why? Probably you never fell in love in the first place.

All you ever wanted to do was live all those experiences you heard from all your friends. You wanted to see how it feels when some voice calls you early in the morning just to say Good Morning, I love you! You wanted to see what it feels like to kiss, hug and hold somebody’s hand and walk the park, when someone asks you how your day was. You wanted to know. So, yes, we can put it this way. She or he was just a part of your curiousity. An experiment.
Imagine your partner with a burnt face, a scarred soul, a dark past, an aversion to human touch, and in a place where it’s impossible for you two to talk properly even for five minutes. Imagine all the possible differences between you and your partner. All the possible hurdles that could tear you apart. Would you still give your 100%? Would you still love them? Would you still dream about you two being together, sharing the same bed? Would you..? If yes, I bet your partner is the luckiest person alive!

Of Healing

We are growing. Everyday, we are growing. Mentally, emotionally, logically and probably, a little bit physically too. But there’s a continuous growth process going on inside of use every single moment of the day. Imagine yourself two years back. Were you the same person you are today? Would it be possible to make the heart-shattering but right choices you could easily make today, then? Would you make friends with the same people?  Would you talk like you do now? Would you reason like the way you do now? Would you…?

They say time heals everything. Well, probably it does nothing actually. It just broadens your perspective to see things. Gives you a vision at a greater angle. It helps you to understand, accept and forgive. The wounds stay the same. The pains do not heal. The scar remains. Wrong choices or bad decisions. What matters is how you choose to let that in. Do you want to let go? Or hold on? You want to give up or keep going. You want to grow or stop growing altogether?

Of Childhood and Notebooks

I remember a time, back when I was barely twelve, and we lived in a small house with breaking mosaic patterned tiles, Mom never bought us those ruled notebooks. Instead, she’d buy us sheets of plain, white paper and stitch them up to make it look like a notebook.

I was always fascinated with those hardbound or paperback notebooks, though, for they had pictures of superheroes and superstars and unicorns on them. But Mom never bought us those. All I had were sheets of bright, crisp paper divided into two halves, with a taut white string holding the pages together.

With time, I learnt to make it look better. I’d paste little stickers on it or cut out pictures from magazines and old newspapers and decorate the front page with them. But no matter how much I tried, the cover page of my notebook was never as glossy or gorgeous as the ones they sold in shops. But I never gave up. I started sketching and drawing on the front page to make it look the way I wanted it to be. Often, somebody in school would stop by, steal a glance at my weird, little notebook and ask me if I had designed it. A part of me would be scared to answer because there’d always be this lingering fear in my mind whether it’d be laughed upon or appreciated. My friends would compliment me and shove their notebooks into my hand and ask me to design one for them.

Over the years, plain notebooks without factory-made cover pages didn’t bother me anymore.

Even when I had a chance to buy myself those notebooks I had once envied, it didn’t feel that great as it was supposed to. Rather, the notebooks felt too ordinary when I pulled them out from my bag and saw the rest of the class of forty students pull out the same kind of notebook too. That is when I realized how beautiful those barren, plain notebooks that Mom brought for us, were. My designs on it were unique. Yes, there was no cellophane covering on it, so whenever it rained, I had to go back home, tear away the cover page and make another one, but it was all worth. For they stood out. Stood out from the rest.

Over the years, many other things changed too. Mom stopped buying us those sheets of paper and instead bought us those hardbound, ruled notebooks. I didn’t draw on them. They looked too perfect already. The cover pages were waterproof. So I didn’t have to bother when it rained. In fact, I never bothered at all. I let them lie on the study table, collecting dust. The other notebooks carried a piece of me in them. I’d keep them locked up in cupboards like they were some hidden treasure. And my heart would swell in pride every time somebody would praise them.

I don’t know why I suddenly remembered about them. The thought arrived like a little flash of memory, bringing along with, a fountain of nostalgia.

Years have gone by. I’ve moved on from those “weird”, little notebooks to factory-made, custom designed notebooks to spiral bound ones and more. But I haven’t moved on from those memories. Be it the awkward squirming on seeing a friend pull out a proper notebook to waiting for the class to look at the teacher so that I could pull out my notebook without becoming a laughing stock to garnering appreciation for the same doodles, it’s been a crazy little ride.

A part of me wants to go back in time and find my treasure cove. I want to call Mom up and ask her if they sell those loose sheets of paper anymore. But I know the answer, they don’t. Just like me, they’ve moved on to better technology and better ways. Mom probably wouldn’t make me those notebooks if I asked her to. She is too busy. Yet, a part of me wants that and only that.

It makes me wonder of how we remember so much about the things we shouldn’t have bothered to remember. Perhaps, it is because though the moment had seemed very insignificant once upon a time, it made us into the person we are today. The miles we’ve come; the miles we’ve yet to conquer, we owe it to these tiny, beautiful memories.

('cause caffeine is known to solve problems of the world)