Monday, July 20, 2009

Interlude :: Chapter 2

Ghosts From the Christmas Past

It was a lonely Friday after noon in the month of February. Rahul was laying exhausted on his bed. Fully dressed up in his favorite Travel attire ,Docker’s Khakhi Pants, grey full sleeve cotton T shirt and Woodland shoes. His feet were resting on his backpack, On the table next to his bed there was a small shoulder bag containing his photography gear. Half eaten pizza and an empty beer can was lying on the floor next to his sandals. There were cigarette stubs all over the place, as if human race has never invented Ash Tray.

The mood in the apartment was that of a ship about to lift its anchor and start a long awaited sail into the deep sea. Only there was no one to steer the ship. Rahul was exhausted even before starting the trip. He had spent much of last three weeks waiting for this trip only . ever since he got to know that its gonna be a long weekend , he decided that he will be heading out to Manali. “It’s a long overdue and much needed escape. Finally I will be Far from the madness of Delhi. May be that would help me to sort out this mess.” But like it happened for many time in past.When the moment came he failed again. His memories had this unforgiving habit of arriving unannounced whenever He tried to board the train to future and evry time He was not allowed to board because of all excess baggage He was carrying.

As fate would have it that night He stepped over an old cardboard box . There was a crackling sound and floor was smeared with wine. It took him couple of minutes to realize what he has done. He has broken the bottle of wine. He had bought during Nakshtra’s last trip to Delhi. There was Red color all over the floor . His feets were heavy and eyes were glistening with tears as he walked toward kitchen to fetch wiper . which he knew he won’t be using . “Not that wiper ,Not on THIS wine .Not tonight. “ he said to himself .

He pulled a pillow from bed and carefully placed it close to the pool of spilled wine. He rested his head on pillow into a position where he can see reflection of his face in the pool. He wasn’t sure for how long he kept looking at it. Than view started to distort . He wasn’t sure if it was due to the ripples or shimmering due to tears in his eyes. Either way it didn’t mattered . when shimmering stopped the reflection was replaced by the event of past few months of his life . He was unmoved , a stiffness covered his face like a man facing firing squad. Pain was not an option , it was a finality .He was trying hard to act brave and remain normal and as always He was failing miserably at that. After a few minutes of futile resistance He broke down and buried his face in pillow . he made a whisper , incomprehensible even to himself . he said “Why ?

Soon He dozed off due to exhaustion .He was intoxicated without even touching the alcohol.

Its been 5 month since Rahul had broke up with Nakshtra, His Girlfriend for 6 years. “She was my girl, for most of my Life but not rest of my life“ He used to say whenever he used to get drunk , which was often ,To whoever he was open enough with, and such people were few . His relationship with Nakshatra hadn’t ended on a good note. She was bitter. He failed ,No matter how hard he tried to explain it to her. Much in the same way as he failed to make the relationship work.“ I hope you suffer all your Life for what you did to me. I hate you” She wrote in her last SMS to Rahul . Rahul read that SMS for may time since than . He made a silent vow to himself that he will make her wish come true. “ I can do that much for her” He said to himself as he read that SMS everyday .


He woke up by the sound of his cell phones ringing . His Mom was calling . He always answer mom’s call.

Hello Rahul Beta ! are you on your way to Manali “ She asked

I am not going Mom “ Rahul Replied , gearing up for the string of question to follow.

Why ? are you all right ?” his mom asked.

Yes Mom . Just some headache “he said and started creasing his forehead with his finger as if doing that will somehow produce the hitherto non existent headache.

Than something spooky happened . He felt a streak of pain rushing through his forehead and his fingers were smeared in blood .

Headache ?? Why ?? are you taking too much of black coffee ? how many time I have told you not do stay awake all night . but you never listen to me “ His Mom continued , oblivious to the event on the other end of phone line.

Mom I will call you back in a minute“ Rahul said and disconnected. His voice had an panic which he didn’t wanted to reveal to his mom.

It took him couple of minute to regain composure and drag himself to wash basin . He looked and his face in mirror.There were streaks of blood on left side . running down from forehead to chin. He touched his forehead again and a stream of blood erupted . He lifted strands of his hair and looked at the wound . It was a small cut and there was something underneath it . He knew what it was. It was a tiny piece of sharp glass from the broken wine bottle.”So I rolled my face over in broken glasses ? Probably I deserve it” . He said and removed it carefully. He regained his composure. Only to loose it again a minute later . As He was washing his cuts with antiseptic He noticed that it was just marginally above his eyes. A little down and glass would have entered and hurt his eyes. This thought freaked him out . His terror was not solely due to the horrendous possibility of losing his eye sight . His terror was rooted in the fact that for him his eyes were not just eyes. It symbolizes what He really was.

“You have lovely Eyes….” Someone has told him. Someone whom he had meet long before Nakshatra came in to his life.

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There was something about Rahul’s eyes . No one disputed that . He had big black eyes. The kind of eyes which wanted to suck everything . Long back when he was in college He meet someone while traveling back home in train She was a lady in her early 40s.

Her face was having visible sign of ageing. She happen to have her seat reserved in the same compartment where Rahul and his gang was creating a ruckus . They fell silent the moment she had stepped in. “ What happened ? Continue guys . I don’t mind the noise” she said and start looking out from the window . When nobody spoke for next 10 minutes,she sighed , zip opened her big purse and pulled out her iPod . “Hey you !” she said to Rahul “ ask your friends to be normal and return to your F#$* slang like you were doing a minute back .I am won’t be listening “ and showed them her ipod .

They were normal after a while and started their ruckus again . Their journey had lasted for 7 hours , when her station arrived She collected her stuff and started heading toward gate. En-route she took a somewhat improvised stoppage next to Rahul’s seat and said “ I noticed You have intense and lovely eyes. Last few hours when you were chit chatting with your gang , I have seen them showing colors of curiosity , enthusiasm and na├»ve ness of seeker struggling with a peace of logic . I hope they never loose that quality . Take care“ and patted on his cheek.

Rahul didn’t understood He was stupefied . so was his gang . the spell lasted for complete 60 sec till she got down from the train . what happened next was nothing short of Rahul’s 15 minute of fame. All of sudden he found himself showered with glances of envy from the fellow passenger and voices of cautionary advice from his gang.

What are you doing ? Go ask for her number before it’s too late? “said Mukul . His voice was filled with the anxiety .

Are you crazy ? Look at her age“ Venkat had protested in his tone of moral righteousness.

“Well ….you never know her daughter might be of our age”. Mukul explained .

You know you actually have a point. “ Venkat agreed.

Rahul was listening to their conversation . He raised his eyebrow in an amused astonishment at Venkats response.

It’s not everyday that Venkat and Mukul agree with each other easily. Looks like planets are aligned tonight . I must do something or I will always wonder what could have happened “ Rahul said to himself as he leaned down to tie laces of his shoes.

Gentlemen ! its time to action “ He announced and started walking toward the exit. He didn’t looked back , He knew they will be following him and He was not wrong..

But something has changed by the time he reached to the gate . Naive kid inside him was replaced by a celebrity having his long awaited 15 minute of fame .He jumped out of the boggie ,walked to the tea stall and bought him self a steaming cup of tasteless brown water . His eyes were looking for the lady and than he spotted her .She had Her back toward Rahul and She was busy negotiating with collie .

Got you “ He said and leaned over Venkat who was standing next to him .

Dude ! What you gonna do next ?” Mukul enquired.

Nothing…” Rahul said .

Nothing ??…than how will you go forward from here?

“ Hmm..good question ”

If She has some feeling for me . She will turn back and look at me “ He announced quoting shamelessly from ShahRukh Khan of DDLJ .

All heads nodded in unison.

Dude That was a movie , girl was from London and story was set in Europe . are you sure it’s a good analogy ?” Venkat said with the analytical sincerity of a student in third year of engineering .

Mallu !!! Keep your statistical models to yourself . These are the matter of heart

Someone snapped at him and rest of the gang agreed .

She had finished negotiating with collie and both of them were heading toward the other end of railway platform .

“Palat (Turn Back ) ..” Rahul said , She didn’t turned

“Palat” he said again but to no avail.

Script demanded him to repeat it once more but he noticed that suddenly there was a panic amongst his friend. Train had started moving without the mandatory warning whistle and now it was gaining momentum. Rahul reluctantly rushed toward it.

“What the fuck is this ? Wasn’t it suppose to stop here for full 30 Minutes “ Rahul shouted as his friends pulled him inside the train.

“Yes . But the train is running late tonight they need to make up for the lost time “ said an old man on his way to bathroom .

“Uncle Jee . You don’t know the meaning of word Loss. I am the one who have lost something tonight ” Rahul murmured. Old man gave him a weird look and continued with his pilgrimage.

Its not the time to panic Guys .” Mukul announced as train started picking up speed “We need to find a way .”

What can be done now ?” Venkat asked ,His mind was racing fast

May be you can throw your Identity card toward her as train pass her by . If she has something real for you . She will have enough info to contact you.“ said Abhijeeet the silent one among the gang.

“I love you Abhi “ Rahul said and Kissed him

He quickly pulled out his ID card and threw it out as train whirled past her. It was dark outside but he could make out that She was stopped by the sound of something falling near her feet . He wasn’t able to confirm if she found it and picked it up . soon she was lost in darkness . only to reappear in his memory from time to time for many months to come.

I believe that She will find it “ Rahul turned to his gang and announced .

“yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay” they shouted in a make believe euphoria . Reconfirming for yet another time.Man kind’s need to believe in those miraculous , serendipitous fairy tales.

This story became something of a folklore in his college. Many people stopped him and confirmed the lady’s observation . some mockingly .some sincerely and some after checking the meaning of word from dictionary . Rahul thanked them all.

With the passage of time as He grew wiser. Rahul came to understand the deeper meaning of that lady’s words. “She was the one who recognized my inner streak , my core value , my one single strength . Long before I ever realized I have one “ He once told Nakshtra . Many a times He wished and prayed that She had picked up his ID card and come to see him one day. But his reason of longing were different now . He wanted her to be back again to help him rediscover himself . He never got to saw her again. But when ever He was depressed and bitter in life. He looked at himself in mirror , his gaze focused on his eyes. Searching for something which SHE was able to notice effortlessly . It always helped . I can’t break the promise I made to my faceless admirer . He told himself often as he passed through the life.

And He always took good care of his eyes .

1 comment:

  1. deep....abyss is awaited....prashant....

    ReplyDelete