People meet by chance not by choice,
At times, become friends to be there when there is none.
At times, the relation fosters deep; much more deep,
Walking with their hand in each otherâ€™s hand till the end.
People, at times meet, to know, to be friends, to understand and then hold hands,
To love like never beforeâ€¦
And then, instead of walking to the end with each otherâ€™s hand, they break free.
Without realizing what is it that they are losing,
Becoming strangers with their own who completed them,
It is later when they spend the rest of their lives, searching for that estranged soul;
To meet again, to love again, if not that, then to just look and listen to them
That they realize that there is no turning back time.
What they have lost is the quintessence of their life.
Ever since the meeting, he was lost in his own chain of thoughts; about her, the meeting and the future.
The day he met her, he had turned a new page in his life not because he met her but more because he was done with his academics. He felt he was doing fairly good in life, completed post grad without any setback, found a job; a job which he was keen and passionate about. He was on the steps opening new doors in his life; unsure, unaware of where they will lead but excited, thinking about the possibilities.
A new leaf, a new beginning but now he felt that the meeting had not gone so well at least not the way she must have expected.
He was waiting for her at the end of the slope outside the restaurant; a not so busy intersection of the road at that time of the evening. The open manholes cover being the only hindrance to the moving traffic, besides that it was an uneventful road and time. The guy wearing pajamas with headphones was looking at him now and then. He wondered; who was he waiting for, another girl, friend or just straying around aimlessly. The waiting was getting to him, ten minutes and she was still not here, he eyed the shop across the road, half tempted to go but restrained himself. He tried to distract himself checking messages, replying and then deleting images of stupid memes sent by friends.
He did not believe now, in love at first sight; he used to, in his past life when he had met Anita, loved her, been with her and walked away to regret later. Vocally, he never accepted that he regretted but deep inside he knew; he did. Anita was the light and he the shadow and together they were the masterpiece of a beautiful innocent love.
However, they had gone into a shade, in shade there is no light and without light no shadow. They had met nine years ago when they were in that dreamy adolescent age. He did not remember the date; he remembered the moment as it is, clear. He had seen her for the first time in a bustling classroom, doe-eyed, with a vibrant smile, wavy hair, laughing with her friends across from where he was sitting. Moreover, he had looked at her longingly for a time long enough, to be called a glance.
Their eyes had met for a second and he had felt a rush within him, might be she had too. He smiled at her, shying away just a bit and she smiled assuring him back. Nevertheless, they had never known back then that moment was the starting spark of a thunderous and vibrant love rain. Those three months of vacation classes, they blended like oil on water. Indulging each other but not ready to mix, retaining the individuality of thoughts.
They would talk, but fight and talk again all in healthy joy. It was all different now with the innocence gone shadowed by the reality of fickle human relations, which abounded all around.
Even if he did believe now in love at first sight he knew inside his heart that the girl he was meeting today was not the one. But he now understood looks didnâ€™t matter, the only thing that mattered was the chemistry of two people. Chemistry of how two people complete each other, to understand, to talk through the eyes without moving a lip, the feeling where you would know you do not want the moment of being with that person to turn into just another memory.
And so he never shied away from meeting people who he found interesting; inadvertently in search of the one half soul who would complete him.
15 Minutes since he had reached and she was still not there, he crossed the road towards the shop, took out a â‚¹5 coin, bought it and crossed back.
His Blackberry rang, playing Sun and Moon by Above & Beyond his favorite song that he had kept as his ringtone. â€œIt's raining, it's pouring. A black sky is falling. It's cold tonight.â€ These opening lines of the song aptly reminded him of his state of life.
It was Zoe, he pressed answer with a smile passing across his face and before he could say Hi, she cheerfully said, â€œDo you see a girl walking on the other side of the road wearing a blue top carrying a brown bag with her?â€
The start was pleasant, her loving smile, an amorous hug, a hug in which he went weak not weak in the knees; but he reflected now he could have hugged her better. He was in a little awkward situation with the just bought paper in his hand she looked at it. He looked at her, studying her face and she said, â€œYou can roll at my placeâ€, they both smiled.
The location was apt or maybe not, her place. She sat behind him on the bike and guided him to her apartment a little ahead of where they had met.
After he parked they entered the wing and started climbing the steps together, he wished there had been a lift but he had assumed when he parked that there wonâ€™t be. It was a building of the past, not one of those modern swanky residential towers; still more warm and habitable to him.
Such buildings told him stories of children playing, becoming friends; of squabbles untold and of make ups never heard, of children becoming adults sneaking to try things that their parents would never approve of, the stolen kisses with the first adolescent love and of families sharing their simple joys unlike the modern apartments which were bare of any feelings but only squeaky clean and architectural marvel. He somehow liked such old apartments, gave him a feeling of something known probably as he himself lived in an old building.
As they climbed the stairs she informed him that she had her place on the top floor, besides that he didnâ€™t remember what they conversed about until they reached the door. Taking the keys out she had enquired if he had used some after shave before coming as she was not able to ignore it when they hugged, to which he said no though he remembered using the deodorant spray from his bag 10 minutes before meeting.
They entered and she started opening the door on the right to her room, kitchen was on the left and further ahead there was another door.
As they entered, he just could not help but admire, the way in which she had subtly turned the room into her home.
The lighting in her room was perfect, warm yellow lights; from two asymmetrically placed lamps throwing shadows and rays of light just at the right places.
She turned on the Air conditioner using the remote and the old Ac groaned to life. She went to change asking him to make himself comfortable. He sat on the bed with his back to the wall; the lamp with the silhouette of Buddha at the front caught his gaze, he found it intriguing and made a note to ask her about it.
He checked his Blackberry and since nothing of more interest was there to attend too he shoved it inside his pocket and felt his fingers on the packet within.
Slowly he took it out in his hands. He took out his wallet found an old folded bill from the days when he was in Nasik working for the restaurant and spread it on the bed. Than carefully opening the packet, he drained out a part of its contents and kept the packet back in his pocket.
He started sifting using his fingers to separate the seeds and the stem from the green; thinking a little back in timeâ€¦
He remembered the moment two weeks back, around 11 in the morning when he was at office surfing through the net and he had come across her comment on a video. It was at that precise moment when he had admired her comment and the thought process behind it. Inquisitive as he was, he had visited her profile and seen a lot of bubbly and not run of the mill activity. After snooping around for a minute or so he sent her an add request on a whim and moved on ahead scrolling the news and the happenings of the world.
And she was back. Shorts and a loose top with her hair clipped behind and the sleek Motorola smartphone in here hand. She sat beside him asking him about life in general, the usual small talk, unimportant but necessary, which usually sparks life in a conversation and at times, kills them.
He looked back in to her eyes, conversing in the same manner, talking about hitherto thoughts that came in his mind. It was then that he started realizing that he was not his usual self and he found he was trying, trying hard to impress, to capture her mind and lead, but he could not. There was some disconnect that he felt at some level, maybe of interests or in the perception.
He could feel it but not capture it or avoid. He felt he was obsessing on all of it, not his normal nature to obsess but today he was. He looked down towards the work of his hands and tried to snap out of it. Diverging his mind with thoughts about how it would be smoking up for the first time with a person whom you do not know much and are meeting for the first time. He could not help but pass a silent smile.
She suddenly went quite for a second, he looked up and she said, â€œwhen I had been to Bangalore last year I rolled joints for my friends thereâ€¦â€ ;then she went on telling about how the joke had gone around about a girl who on a matrimony site lists one of her skills as â€“ â€˜can roll a fucking good jointâ€™ and gets requests from all the stoner guys alive.
He immediately pushed the smoking paper and weed towards her and with a devilish smile said, â€œI would love to see you roll.â€
Picking up the stuff and the smoking paper in her hands she said, â€œI usually donâ€™t smoke weed, I smoke hash that too only with this one friend of mine who lives in Goaâ€.
He, â€œWell you should, it is so fucking relaxing after a tired day at work.â€
Zoe, â€œNah, it makes me too hyper, I canâ€™t control my thoughts and handle it.â€
He, â€œSo you are not going to take a drag? Come on, just a drag will not drive you crazy, you know that? Right!â€
She, â€œYes I will. But just a littleâ€¦â€
He just smiled and the room went pitch silent with that. The only sound made was by the Air Conditioner droning at the far end of the room, trying hard to cool.
He just sat looking at her roll, after a while he realized it was too silent between them, somehow he felt awkward and realized he had nothing to talk about, the same feeling.
He was sure he was better before, but these days he was not the same person. It was not about lack of thoughts or shyness, neither was he an introvert, but lately he had realized the futility of it all. Futility of saying things, which you do not really mean to people whom you hardly know; saying them with a hope to know each other, saying things to find out if they are the one we want to be with.
But inside his heart he knew that once you meet that half soul which completes your half than you automatically come to know. But we have lust in our blood, not just the lust for the body but the lust for affiliation, affection, lust to feel loved and this lust drives us towards not listening to our heart and to keep searching.
She said, â€œDo you keep your bag on the floor?â€ breaking his chain of thoughts and bringing him back to where he was and he said, â€œyeah, at times, Why?â€
She then went on explaining how she had this thing for ultra-cleanliness and was conscious about such things. And then he noticed, the numerous, Bisleri and Aquafina Bottles and how the bed was devoid and plain with just the bed sheet and pillows. Quite unlike his bed where every time he had to sit or sleep he had to make place for himself by moving clothes, laptop, papers and all such things. He on the other hand, believed in chaos. Chaos was there, everywhere in his life, his room, his office table, he liked it that way and more than that he felt uncomfortable when things were in an arranged and orderly fashion.
Saying so she moved his bag from the bed and kept it next to the sofa on the floor. By the time she finished rolling the joint only a few sentences had passed between them; small talk, nothing of importance. She passed the joint and he just sat there looking at the joint, admiring it. It was perfect not too fat, not too slim, the roach was fine forming a â€˜Sâ€™ curve with its folds, firm and ready to light.
He lit the joint. A deep pull, one drag and then another, closing his eyes for a bit, savoring the flavor in his mouth and finally letting out the smoke and feeling its sweet intoxicating fragrance. She got up instantaneously, went out the door and came back in a minute fetching a home improvised ash tray, a bowl with little water sitting at the bottom to assimilate the ash falling into it.
He said, â€œThis is the second time in my life that Iâ€™m smoking up with a girl that I have met for the first timeâ€.
She replied, â€œWho was the first?â€ and he went on to tell her how an year back when he had gone on a trip to the north he had met a Delhite girl in the bus to Dehradun and how they ended up talking, smoking up at the halt, and then getting a little cozy in the bus. And with that there was silence again. The same troubled silence that does not seem to end though the clock keeps ticking away, unending.
Surely, he thought now thinking back about the meeting, that it was not something he should tell a girl he is meeting for the first time. He had over the years come to believe that people in general never shy away from judging others, judge they will though they themselves may be far worse. Zoe was not bad, she was better than him, he felt, she was open to life, receptive to change and never afraid from trying new things, in short living her life to the fullest, independently.
He took another pull, holding it in for a while and then letting go. She sensed the uneasiness, they both did. She picked up the remote, turned on the TV and put on VH1; music they say relaxes, helps unwind. He loved to listen to music, but he had his own select choice of songs. He had in the past year not heard any new tracks, he never saw what played on VH1. So the music was new and he couldnâ€™t relate to it.
Another drag, her phone rang. She answered in Bengali, gleefully talking to someone who must be her family, he thought.
She started walking around the room, talking constantly in Bengali, he tried to pick up a few words, but he soon quit unable to comprehend. He spotted a book by the dresser and stretched himself to pick it up. Some mythological fiction, the recent best-selling genre in India, propelled after the success of Shiva Trilogy. He picked up the book turned it over read the reviews and kept it down.
She was still on the call he stood up with the joint in his hand, took a drag, she was standing with her back towards him. He stood still looking at her; was she the one for him. He wanted to just walk up to her, hug her from behind, move her hair to the front on one side, kiss her neck, whisper in her ear, talk to her in whispers. He wanted to just lie there on the bed, cuddle her and caress her, look in to her eyes and talk to her about everything under the sky. Talk about the Buddha lamb in her room, about the book on her dresser, about music, why there was so much crime and hatred in the world, about why people honked, why it was fun to stay alone. Talk about her, know her, understand her, and tell her how he felt. He took a step towards her and she disconnected the call and turned; he stopped. They looked at each other, he smiled and she said, â€œSorry, it was my mom, they want me to get married. But they donâ€™t understand that Iâ€™m not against marriage but Iâ€™m against the type of guys they want me to meet. How can I decide on marriage unless and until Iâ€™m sure about the guyâ€.
He chuckled and said, â€œI donâ€™t want to get married, if my wish prevails I will never get married. I will adopt a boy if they want. What is it with parents wanting their children to get married? I mean why they cannot just let the children decide about it. But I know some day or the other I will have to give in to my parentâ€™s pressure. Sad but true future story of my lifeâ€.
They laughed about it and he passed the joint to her.