I was at my local railway station, had just returned from college. Opposite was a train waiting to start its trip to CST. Dulled by a days work, I was about to go home, little did I know that the moment would bring a memory that would stay with me for years.
I was walking towards the stairs and then lightning stuck me! A flash of hair, a voice long lost, suddenly recognition struck me, I didnt have a postive visual and in the middle of a thousand people, I couldnt possibly sure of the voice. But that moment, every sense of my body was on alert, adrenaline rushing, the days fatigue was long vanished, my heart was thumping as if trying to break out and the brain was screaming -- Its HER! . I stopped dead in my tracks, then turned towards the direction of the sound. Slowly I walked to the train compartment and looked in.
I couldnt see her face, her hair was a bit longer, but the voice was affirmative. It WAS her. Her frame looked more supple and sexy than I remembered. It was a yellow salwar kameez. She was laughing, joking, having fun -- the things u do when u are in junior college waiting for your train to start. And then I absorbed the whole picture and its horrifying brutality pierced me to the core.
She was with another guy. Infact she was leaning on him. It could be a friend - my pathetic heart offered. Huh! Its her boy friend! - the inner voice countered. No kidding, it was by all means her bf. You could tell from the body language, when a woman was with her guy.
Then memories returned. She was my first crush. I was so so naive at the time. For a while there was something between us. She was close to her mom. She told her. Her mom said 'Concentrate on ur tenth.'
She met me then, for the last time as a gf, told me her mom didnt approve of our relationship, infatuation, too young, studies, and ofcourse mom is always right, she is my best friend. So tata!
I was like, OK! Wow! That was fast! And there she ended it. Without protest, without fight, without asking any questions and without even thinking about me, as if I was just some dress she got from a shop that her mom frowned upon.
I was numb, when I heard it. I still remember the date - 4th April 1997. It was when I was facing a year drop at school for helping out another student. So not only did she dump me, but she did it at the worst possible time. The cut that I got, went so deep, it still bleeds.
My school prof needed some bribe, so that the matter could be closed and I didnt have any. I couldnt tell home ofcourse, for being blessed with the worst child-parent communication system. I didnt know who to ask money for. I went to see my mentor and my teacher at the tutions where I studied -- he wasnt there!
That moment. That one time - I was felt so alone, so much out there in the cold. It still frightens me. I survived .. somehow .. marred by hurt and in terrible shreds. Thanks to her I had faced my first academic benchmark while being handicapped. I succeeded though, I got into science, then into engineering.
But there she was, infront of me, still beautiful I feared (I couldnt see her face, didnt want to .. rather) . Those big watery eyes, that wonderful line of teeth when she smiled and the laughter that was devine!
She was Ok, infact she rocked right now! Her mom probably approved of a bf in college I thought, or rather she matured enough to keep these matters to herself. It was like a calculated cruel joke, a white hot blade being dipped into an old cut again and again, slowly, the devil taking sensuous pleasure in my agony. I remember the horror of going through it. And I still cant tell u what was worse, the pain or the need to hold back my raging emotions cos I was a guy in a public place.
When in danger, fight, if u cant then try avoiding it, get out of the way, put distance between ur opponent and urself, get out of the lethal radius. Since here my opponent didnt even know there was a fight, I decided to move. As if in agreement, the train moved too, starting its journey.
I forced myself to get into an auto, said the right address .. all the time I was telling myself... HOLD on! not yet, wait .... I got home, not yet .. greet the people in the living room first .. modulate ur voice .. keep facial expression in control .. yes thats good .. say u are tired .. tea? no tea . Get into ur room.
And then I sat there. Finally letting go. NO NO NO! not so loud, U idot , mom is in the kitchen, she might hear, nahi common .. ya better .. use pillow .. aare take care .. dont suffocate urself to death.
I went through the day as if in a daze. I called her that night. I said 'hello' -- then a long pause , I heard a sharp intake of breath, then a fearsome voice asked 'Sanket?' . I cut the line. A stupid pathetic person inside me applauded, 'She still remembers my voice!' . I said what crap! have some respect. Matter closed. No more talk on this subject.
I took out my wallet and extracted a yellowed photo. On the back was her name - in her own hand. I looked at it one last time - and then with an effort of will tore it to shreds and threw it like confetti from my third floor window.
If not from the heart atleast I could remove her from the wallet. There was a solace in that.