Sitting on the window ledge, Prayas felt the cool breeze on his face. He always loved to sit at the window ledge and look out to the city lights to all immeasurable distance. But today was different; the lights seem to be blurred. The city which always used to embrace him with silence was creating a lot of noises, and he could feel a sharp pang as some part of the soul was trapped amidst those blurred lights. He could feel his life slipping from his hands, this was not the Prayas he has known for it life. “Life is a war, soldiers fight to survive, martyrs fight for death but warriors fight to win and I am a warrior” he had told this so many times, to her, but today he felt that he had given up without fighting. He could see a part of him slowly drifting away in the cold vacuum.
His inner voice told him “You can not just let it go. A warrior is not meant to sit in the castle and see it all go. A warrior is meant to win, fight and win”. He could feel a sharp impulse running in his nerves through his whole body. He got up and got out of the house, called the elevator. He knew he was not going to let it go so easy, the fight was on. He walked into the parking lot and sat in his car, a part of him still didn’t believe what he was going to do but his heart did. As the car engine revved up nostalgia set up across him. As he drove his way towards the highway the old days came back to him.
“Hie, what you are doing here?” he turned back at the sound.
“Poorva! Hi, how are you here? I am here for a couple of months for an internship” he was still gaping at her. One year and she had changed drastically and for good and better. He remembered her old self and wondered further if she is the same person.
“Oh! I am here only for my post graduation. So how do you like the city? ……” the conversations flowed. There were many things he wanted to say like how gorgeous she was looking, how pretty her smile was, how they should meet up again over coffee when he took her leave.
He took another turn and came on the Bangalore highway. He saw the milestone guiding him towards his destination. He smiled how he wanted to sit with her when he asked to leave and how he saw a tinge of sadness on her face when none was there when she said “Yes it is getting late”.
The air had suddenly become cold, little droplets of rain were falling on his windscreen. He pressed the throttle with the music filling the loneliness in the car. The lyrics of the song meant so much to him-
“Here I am this is me. There is no where else on earth I would rather be. Here I am it’s just me and you. Tonight we will make our dreams come true.”
The acoustic guitar of this song was beating in his head. His heart started beating faster, the wheels made the screeching sound with ground. His eyes opened due to the jerk, his flight had landed on the Bangalore Airport. He came out humming to himself “Here I am, this is me.” He was in Bangalore this was the city where she was, this was the air she breathed in. It had been more than a year, since he had last seen her but it seemed like a moment ago he could still see her moist lips forming that perfect smile, her blue summer T worn casually over the blue denims making her look simple yet yearningly attractive. He couldn’t believe that actually so much time had passed since he had last seen her. Though he knew every little bit about her, there had not been a single day he had not thought of her. Chats and phones he distantly was a part of her life, near enough to know everything about her yet far enough not to make her realize how much did he care.
“Hi Poorva” He said as soon as she picked up phone
“You reached?” She asked
“Yep” he nodded
“Awesome man, where are you now and where are you going?” She asked
“I have just checked in the hotel. What were you doing?” he replied
“I am planning to go to office, you catch some sleep will talk in comfortably in evening” She said
He slowly responded while hanging of the phone when he just wanted to sit back and listen to her talking, breathing the same air which she did. Realizing how close he was to her but still how far, he wanted to tell her a lot of things but destiny always favored his silence over confessions.
A sharp shiver of longing went through his spine. The rain had started poring he increased the wiper intensity and switched on the heater. The gust of air from the heater surrounded him in warmth, making him cosy and lost him in the moments of nostalgia.
He was standing in the middle of the busy mall checking out the fall collection at UCB’s. Suddenly he could feel a distinct beat in his heart, and he turned. His eyes were transfixed on the door when he saw her enter; he could feel a sudden sense of excitement. When he saw her gleaming eyes searching for him, and he moved towards her as being pulled by the depth of her eyes. He hadn’t seen her happier while meeting him, he knew today was special. Nothing to do they simply strolled down the road and he walked by her side. Covering her and looking for her at every crossroads while enjoying the music of her voice. He was stopped by a small girl by the roadside who was selling red roses. He didn’t knew what to do, “I had never bought roses for any girl” His mind argued “But she is not any girl, She is Poorva” the heart replied beating faster then ever. He slowly pulled out his wallet bought three red roses for her telling her
“I care. A little more, a little too more than any one ever can”
“I treasure. You, your smile, your laugh, your concern, every moment with you”
“I love. You for now, for always will you be mine forever”
He gently looked at those long stemmed roses sprinkling them with the thoughts in his mind and went towards her.
“These are for you” Prayas slowly uttered. He tried to tell her all that he wanted to, all about the meaning of those three roses. But his speech got dissolved in his heart with the lovely grin on her face. Every word that could have come out of his mouth just lost the purpose. Her smile had made his day and he knew he didn’t need anything else.
They entered in the restaurant; he saw the reflections of joy in her eyes. The shimmer of the roses was evident with a tinge of pink on her cheeks and she looked so elegant sitting by the glass wall over the Bangalore high rise. He wished he could tell her what she meant to him, how he longed to be a part of her and part of her life. How he wanted him to be the epicenter of her life. He laughed at the irony of life how everything he wanted was sitting so close to him but yet she was in a distant plane in a different world with different thoughts with maybe, yes maybe a small inclination of his longing for her. She was talking to him and he was listening to everything she said floating in the sense of togetherness with her. Her voice soothed his soul and her presence beside him surrounded him with warmth making him cosy. He couldn’t believe the most perfect evening of his life was coming to an end. It was already night and the auto-rickshaw was swirling across the ways in speed forcing his hands to brush with hers leading him to the moment of ecstasies. He bade her goodbye and as the auto turned a closely passing car made a loud Honk.
He got out of the nostalgia with the noise of honking of a truck coming from front. He realized he has been driving for four hours. He drove towards the next series of lights and slowly pulled his car in a roadside motel. He slowly walked into the restaurant and ordered a cheese sandwich with a cup of coffee. The rain had lightened down but still mild drizzle was in the air. He was glancing at his watch while he ate his meal. He couldn’t believed how time had flew with her, though she was not with him during these past three years, but their daily chats and phones had made Poorva an indispensible part of his life. However he never realized the indispensability until today; he always thought he could control his heart. Until the phone rang today, he thought as he moved back to his car.
The phone was ringing; “it never takes more than 3 rings to pick up….” was the thought in her mind when he just picked the call.
“Hello, Sorry was in the restroom” it was the same spiked up voice. Some things never change, neither would his voice nor would her feeling of elation at the sound of it. Her mind wandered.
“Hello, Poorva!! Is something wrong?” he was genuinely concerned. This was one thing which made him a lot easier to talk to; he was never a fake, he was never to be doubted, even if he committed a cardinal sin she knew he would tell her. A simple bond of trust made him so different, so special from the rest.
“No, Nothing wrong! Got something to tell you. I am getting married” She wished if he would say this is not possible. How can you go to someone else you were always mine. She wished so much for both of them; but on the irony of life they were just friends. Not that she couldn’t have told him; she could have more than hundred times may be every time they spoke she could have ended up with the three words which could have changed their life but…..
“That’s nice, but you don’t seem to be too excited. Who is the guy? Poorvs are you really happy?”
Something inside her squealed in pain, she wanted to cry just digging her head in his arms telling him that she was not. She wanted to tell him no one can ever read her the way he does, no one can every match how he asked the most relevant questions to show his concern. She wanted to tell him how she wanted him to be in his life, if only he had been couple of years elder to her, if only their families had something more in common to be brought together, if only she had the drive to go the extra mile risking one of the most important friendship she had.
“It’s a compromise Prayas, it is a compromise. I can’t wait any longer, this is what my parents think is perfect for me and I have just lost the zeal or desire to keep them waiting till I find something I want. I can’t do this to them, it’s just a decision” she couldn’t lie to him; pretence could have worked on anyone else. It could have kept his parents happy and ignorant, it could have brought smiles on her friends’ face but not him he could read her like a book from the first to the last cover.
“I am flying home tomorrow evening for the ring ceremony…….” And she continued filling him the details. This was the first time talking to him she felt that his mind was somewhere else. She waited for him to come back but he seemed to be lost in the distant breeze.
“It’s a decision which is going to be rest of your life. Go ahead and enjoy, make the most of it whatever and however it is. Good Luck” The conversation ended.
She kept the phone down; she could feel a sense of numbness in her fingers. The most painful thing was done; she didn’t have any will left in her to call rest of the people. She just sat on her bed after closing the lights; she could remember the days when they were together. The days when she could call him anytime and start a conversation with a line “abhi baat kar sakta hai!!”. The conversations would last for hours and sometimes nights but they always managed to cheer her up. There was something about him which made him different, very different from the rest. She still remembered the Diwali night, her first one away from home. The life seemed to hit an all time low, it any ways sucked big time to live alone in such a huge city but festivities were a time to be home. Nothing more can be more saddening then a diwali spent locked inside the home alone. “This Diwali would be like one I have had never before, dull sad and dark” she thought.
She wasn’t completely wrong when she thought that. The Diwali turned out to be like the one she hadn’t ever had before and not so dull, not so dark, & not so sad either. She remembered how he had coaxed her to come out of the house almost forcefully taking her to a movie. Surprisingly the movie turned out to be awesome and she was happy at least she was having some good times. They proceeded from the Cineplex to the Café bar on the ground floor of the mall. There they had some coffees and both of them were letching the beautiful girls in and around the mall. His descriptions of pretty females were hilarious and strikingly true and she was enjoying when his hand slipped inside his bag and brought out an unwrapped packet. He handed it over to her and said Happy Diwali. It came out as a surprise to her; if it would have been anyone else she would have snapped back. She looked deep into his eyes, to see intentions, plans but surprisingly there weren’t any; they had affection all over with a tinge of eagerness. She was surprised how to react to him, when he saved her from the gravity when he said in casual tone “Open”.
She moved to her almirah took out a black jacket; the black jacket which she received on a Diwali day in an unwrapped packet. The day when she actually found out that she meant something to him. Holding jacket close to her face she knew that she can never let this piece go away from her. She realized that a lot of things need to be done; her life was going to change drastically after tomorrow. She decided that she should pack her bags; and the thought of him still lingered on. She could see him walking with her on the crowded streets of the brigade road, trying to protect her from everything coming her way. The lights were bright and they strolled on the streets till the crowds started disappearing. Something wanted both of them stay together; something didn’t wanted that evening to end not even if it was past one in the night; something that was shining in both of them.
They walked towards her house, amidst the sudden sounds of crackers disrupting eerie silence of the night. They were speaking to each other about love, experiences and life but just as the number of the steps their words too didn’t mattered. Something had connected in them; she could feel it. She didn’t know what he was speaking but she could feel her heart beating for every word he said. She could see the gentility of the person amidst his true self. She wanted to interrupt and tell him how she was feeling but no admittance through word could have communicated what the silence was telling her. She chose to listen and feel what she had always read, what actually sharing of life meant. They finally reached her house she couldn’t just go inside and something stopped him to say goodbye. There were a lot of things which were left unsaid in that moment hadn’t it been for her damned caretaker of the house too eager to lock the doors of. She just wished if she could have just travelled in time and let the moment last a bit longer, but the moment was gone.
A lot had changed after that night; he was not the usual guy for her. Though she could not tell what he thought; she knew it just might not be perfect. She knew that the troubles might be at the door after all the social stigma was one that cannot be invited. She always thought she can tell him anytime and her thoughts actually rebelled when she discussed marriages and relationships with him. He was so different from what she thought of him to be. Whatever he was but he was no longer a guy from college she knew, he was more and much more.
She could feel his presence all over her life especially with the discussion on love, life, relationships and philosophies that made her realize he was not the man she wanted. He was the man she needed, who could set things straight in her life but he was not what she wanted. He was a bit too much practical to be true. However, with every single conversation he was closer to her and she needed him more than she wanted him. She needed him so badly that she couldn’t risk letting him go for what she wanted.
She was thinking how he had told her about needs sometime “It is always difficult getting and keeping what you need than what you want. When you need something your life loses value so the risk is always greater. However wants always leave a temporary good taste”
She smiled remembering all that and thought to herself “I actually need you to be with me, I need you to take me away from all this once and for all, I need you to hold me against you and promise that you will always take care of me. If nothing else I at least need you to call me and talk to me”. She wiped the tears rolling of her eyes, tears of pain, indignation, and sorrow, when she saw a bright light flashing through her hands. She realized it was already the next day morning.
He was calling on the mobile and as usual she wasn’t noticing it when it was flashing with his name on the screen.
She tremblingly picked up the phone.
“Hi Poorva, Prayas here” He said.
“Hi” She replied back
“Can you come downstairs?”
“Where?” She asked almost aghast
“Downstairs outside your gate” He said silently
“What? How come? When? Wait I am coming down” She spoke without taking another breath
She saw him standing silently besides his car. She saw his face and rushed towards him and with her tear filled eyes she let herself sink in his arms. Feeling secured, loved and thought free after a long time. She could feel his fingers running through her hairs and the second hand holding her against him on her back. She raised her face and looked towards him.
“Get your stuff down” He said.
She went up; later coming down with the back she had packed for the journey she was supposed to make tonight. He quietly took the bag and made her sit in the car. He started driving without saying a word and slowly wrapped his arm around her. She turned to look at him as if asking questions.
He smiled “Let’s first make you have some breakfast somewhere I know you wouldn’t have eaten a bit since yesterday evening” and she knew that the decision had been taken; the journey of their life had already started. She had nothing to worry, there was someone who would know; someone to be with her; someone to take care of her.
She smiled naturally and easily after a long time, “The irony of life, the whole world elopes in love for those three magical words. We would be the first one who by the lack of utterance of those three magical words turned RUN-AWAYS”.