Friday, April 27, 2007

Through the Rain of Tears

The day had been particularly very mundane until he saw 'her'. Was she the same person whom he had known since his Master's and Research days? Hard to believe!! He tried to pinch himself, to try to not remain in reverie. It was real; a chance encounter. As he approached her, he feared whether she could still recognize him after all these long years. She did. He silently thanked the seminar organizers for having chosen this city for him to present a paper. After all, his bachelorhood was still continuing with all such engagements other than the primary task of teaching in the very university, where he acquired his Ph.D. With lunch being already done, the chance was only for a small refreshment. However, he chose a dinner date-after all these years!!- and she agreed. One of those small beach-side restaurants was going to prove to be the dating point.

As he got ready for the occasion, a wave of memories hit him. The day they had first met as newcomers to that great university, and how their friendship had blossomed.
How they had cursed and reprimanded the professors together, that too at times when he himself did not have any problems with them; How much he enjoyed accompanying her to the station to see her off for home; then the longing at heart, the yearning that she 'returns' soon; the wait for sweet-meats from her home; How eagerly he wanted to help her in everything that she wanted; How much he longed to spend every minute of his life in the campus with her!! How those long hours of chai at the dhaba in the campus had proved to be a jelling factor for them; how much he longed to have a bike, just to make her sit behind him placing her lovely hands on his shoulder and zoom off!! And how really he got one, on which she did sit. But not as he wanted. Those days were full of colour and fragrance. Life seemed to have an entirely different meaning; a different purpose altogether; something better to live for. Those Days...................

And now here he was by the sea-side before her on a table specially arranged both of them. It seemed only yesterday that she had left him.............the vagaries of life which was so deceiving!!
He watched her face from the glow of the candle on the table.........Though the age was beginning to play the usual tricks, the old tenderness still remained, something that had captivated him in the past and made him fall for her........Those lovely hands and tender much he longed to touch them......!! He couldn't, neither then nor now. What stopped him??........Was it the ever-arising fear of losing her??............ Dinner came; "some nice fish varieties, fresh from the evening catch, sir", the waiter was repeatedly trying to please them...... The waiter doesn't have to understand his feelings, for he was not paid for that. All through she spoke very little.........Occasionally she smiled, but her innocent laughter which he hoped to treasure some day as his sole possession, was certainly missing. The talk generally moved around the usual enquiries regarding the mutual friends and as how their lives were moving along. The aroma of prawns and pomfrets wafted through the air accompanied by the cool sea breeze............It had been two years since her marriage!! Was he shaken?? He did not show it, though. A sudden loss of words and he 'cooked up' his heartfelt wishes. But settling into the family life did not seem to produce the happiness in her. Was it her disappointment that she could not chose her life with him; was it because she expected him to take the initiative and seek her hand; or was this all part of his fantasies, thereby making him realize that she was indeed contended with her marital life.........

The night was advancing. The next day, he had to take a flight to get back to his daily slog, to the world of books, students, lectures and seminars;
and she had to return back to her home, to her own world. The question still rankling him was whether she ever had any reciprocity to his feelings for her. In their long night walks in the campus when she would have really wanted him to hold her hands, kissing her little fingers, or wrap his arms around her.................. When she wanted to lean unto his shoulders for comfort............He would perhaps never know............His timidity was always getting the better of him and thus preventing him from asking her about that. Perhaps even her heart was going through similar turbulations right now........Her mind fighting several battles on such questions......He was increasingly getting that gut feeling..........He hoped and prayed at least for once that the walls of silence surrounding them to be shattered, allowing both of them to open up. That would never happen for he knew their destinies were never linked........If they did, then their lives would have been so different today. Call it fate, ill-luck or whatever..............!! Was life beckoning to move on??........but move on where? Tomorrow, they would go in different ways; perhaps there could be a phone call or an email once......Even that would disappear in the course of time. Far in the sea, the lights of fishing boats and trawlers were flickering.........the sea was calm today. It was a clear night, with all the stars twinkling above them..........The sands beneath their feet was trying to provide a cushion.............The coffee tasted well. With the bill being paid, they began the long walk back to their hotels.
Over their heads, the sky was getting heavier now. Flashes of Lightening were streaking across. The Clouds were gathering. A light breeze was flowing, which was gathering pace rapidly and which carried the message of the imminent rains. Her long, curly hair was ruffled in the breeze, and it covered her face. She adjusted it with her lovely hands, which again made him look into her eyes with the same unbridled love. They wanted to speak........But the words never came out!! Her hotel was first in the route......Leaving her at the gate, he blabbered something.......she promised to call soon.......Was her voice breaking........was there a tinge of sadness lurking in that voice??............His throat had gone dry.......tears were welling up in his eyes........He controlled them and prayed that they didn't break out before her. He could see from a corner of his eyes that she too tried hard to control her emotions with her eyes becoming moist.......Seeking to end this agony, he bade her farewell and wished her good night. Above in the sky, clouds were beginning to grow heavier and a light thunder was rolling down. Gradually rain began to fall. "Off-season Showers", someone remarked!! Slowly, she alighted the steps and moved into the hotel lobby, from where she silently disappeared into the lift......In that short journey, she had turned back several times, hoping that he would call her back and warmly embrace her, holding her close to his heart!! He only kept waving his hands...........Standing there, he watched her go, the same way as he had watched her leave years back in the campus...............As she disappeared from the scene, he placed his hands in the pocket of his trousers and walked back to his hotel. Tears rolled down his cheeks as the reservoir of emotions had finally been breached. The night was growing darker and the rain was coming down heavily now. His sorrows were soon submerged in the showers, as he quickened his walk through the Rain of Tears.....................................

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