It has been six years, a whole 365 into 6 days ….. It has been 2,190 days since I and my friends have visited this Restaurant and called it our ‘Joint’. Can we ever call it a day to this stimulating lovely place. I can never imagine the sequence, for we have been conversing our Joy and Sorrows, Ideas and Vision, Love and Hate and then concluding our place in this World and what Life has to offer us.
Today is our 2,190th evening in this Restaurant. We celebrate our friendship, just the four of us as we were then, six years ago. We are all seated by the window seat. The window seat provides the entire view of the City roads, the People, The Street Hawkers, Peddlers and all. We all go through our Tea as we smoke our Cigarettes and are deeply engrossed in stimulating conversations. We can hear Manu’s reference to his own experience in support of his statement. It strikes me that my Tea is getting cold. I gulp down the remaining Tea, inhale to my satisfaction and I look for a second outside the window. My eyes search the incoming crowd and are focused upon two Girls at a distance. They are heading towards the Restaurant. I find that their faces are familiar. They are moving nearer. I know these Girls. One is Sangeetha and the other her friend Anupama.
“Sangeetha and Anupama ”
“Am I dreaming………’Oh’…….. No Dev, You are not ”.
“Dev”. I shout at myself within silence.
“Come to your senses and experience reality”. “The same Sangeetha with whom……
With whom ...
With whom ...
With whom ...
‘Yes’ It was maybe two……maybe three years since I first met her. Was it ‘Santhosh’ who had introduced us… ‘Yes’. We had met a number of times together with friends until I had sent you a Card with two Roses, and on it I had written…
“Between Perpetual Classics
You couldn’t grasp the meaning then. It was only when I had explained my emotional position with respect to your emotional standards, you did understand a bit, but then had said “ See, I‘ve got my relative who is interested in me ”. I smiled to myself and thought “ What about you ”. I had wanted to clarify your interest in him, but then dared not.
A Month later, we had gone for a Picnic to a Beach Resort. All our friends moved around as Couples. You were alone. I too was alone. Though it occurred to me that I should be approaching for you for company, I had restricted my thoughts and movements to myself. I was sitting on the Beach looking into the Sky reaching out to the emptiness. Emptiness, internal and external had provided me with Self Consolation. I had gauged the smoke exhaled by me into the atmosphere.
We can hear them climbing the staircase. I am thrilled. They enter the Restaurant. They smile at us and take to a table nearby. I puff my Cigarette heavily only to deliver a smile of recognition. I look at the Cigarette in my hands. My friends try to estimate the magnitude of transformation taking place in me. Manu tries to change into a livelier topic in order to draw my attention. Manu fails in his endeavor.
I exhale… exhale… to think…
I was smoking a lot of Cigarettes that evening, and had noticed your liquid gaze. I had then concluded that you were regretting your previous decision and that you were too shy to deliver the truth.
By 6.00 in the evening we had all dispersed.
You had rung me up at 10.30 P.M. I was surprised to have received your call at night. You had told me that if I stopped smoking, only then you would be mine forever. “ Forever ”. I had danced with joy. My Parents had been baffled by my behaviour. I never did stop smoking for that I had known that you had used it as a pretext of conveying your message. From then on we had been together. Two sides of a Coin. Emotional, Mental and Physical Compatibility. A day without meeting each other would send our heads reeling. We knew how much we meant, to each other. We did get frustrated when we were separated by the aura of social stigma our Society had created. We had continued deeply until…
Sangeetha looks at me expressionless.. I glance at her and settle to another Cigarette. I feel it is not me who has diverted our relationship, but her.
You had started acting peculiarly. Whenever I called you out you would say …..
“I’ve got Classes”.
“My Parents may come to know of our relationship”
“I am scared to face people when we move around”.
I had felt the indifference and I knew you were not yourself. I had tried to put out your fears, boost your confidence, so that we could end the frustration within ourselves. You hadn’t responded to my suggestions. We both knew it was time……. Until you developed yourself to face the Society. It was then, we both tried to act indifferently and we did.
Anupama gauges the intensity of silent love within the sparkle of my eyes and Sangeetha’s too. Sangeetha tries to look away. The thoughts our togetherness probably clusters in her mind. The same evolves in my mind. We Order for another cup of Tea. The Bearer places the Tea. I take a sip. I again look at Sangeetha. She looks at me. I try to read her eyes and she, mine.
“I want to approach you”
“I can approach you” “But”, “My friends what will they think of me and what if you act indifferent”.
“Sangeetha, I need you more than everything”
“But what if………………”
‘Oh’ Shucks. Why should you think of all that. Now decide to go to her table, or not.
“There is a gap, a Vaccum, a thick wall of Glass between us.”
“Come on, Tine never waits for anybody”.
“Let her come to me and talk. Can’t she ? Doesn’t she have the same feelings as me”
“Idiot, she can’t, and you know her nature”. “She is basically shy”.
The discussion within my Mind and my Soul continues. Sangeetha looks uneasy. It’s probably late for her. She gets up. Anupama follows her. They walk off.
I am stunned. I curse myself for my inaction. I watch Sangeetha and Anupama walking away from us. I can still see them.
They appear smaller and smaller … They slowly melt into the Crowd …
They are Lost in the Crowd …
A powerful hand shakes me “Dev, your Tea is getting cold”. I feel embarrassed. I quickly gulp down the Tea. I notice the Cigarette in my hand. The 400° C tip is almost near my fingers.
“Thanks Manu, for bringing me into my senses”. I push the butt into the ashtray. “ Or I would have burnt my fingers”.
And we all sitting there awaiting the seventh year.