I looked at the passing trees. The trees which seemed to be in a hurry to leave me alone. For the first time in a while I decided to peep into the closed window of my heart. Perhaps it was the crowd , the hustle bustle of the station that made me come in terms of my inner demons. As,they say silent nights know our cravings, but the loudest of thunders in the scroching sunrays throws the reality on our face. So, this crowd which I was a part of and which in return was a part of me, urged me to turn those pages of my diary.
As the bus roll down the road, it took me down to the memory lane. Where there were too many of hidden memories. The memories which , when confronted left me in bewilderment. Memories which were like the soft rays of a winter morning, melting all those layers of snow and bracing the skin for a warm start of the day. Memories which sometimes were like the dark nights of the hail storm, one touch of it and everything you knew would be devastated. Some deja Vu and a feeling of nostalgia. That’s what they gave me. All my strength used to vanish at once and I become the old sailor having a broken boat in the name of ship and completely in mercy of the waves of time. I fear this black hole of memories which has the power to make me time travel could leave me in the past too. I have ,there for locked that chamber of my heart and blown the key away in to the ocean of work. But I have forgotten ocean never keeps anything thrown at it, it returns it back to the shore. Sometimes with the algal growth of memories and sometimes wiping away the dusts of ignorance. In my case, it was the ignorance .
It all had started in a bus jurney. Similar to this. Journey from Balasore to Bhubaneshwar .A journey from past to Future. As usual I had engrossed myself in a book. Distracting my mind from the sadness of leaving my family and trying to suppress the fear of being alone in a new city with unknown people, I was focusing on the wit matching between Marrien and Elnor. I was thankful that my adjoining seat was empty. But then out of no where he appeared. Tall, fair and with an angry formidable look. I read the name on his ticket. Abhigyaan Samantaray. A bulb lit in the back of my head. Abhigyaan Samantaray, Rank 1 of our University Entrance Exam. I gingerly sat looking outside of the window. He came and sat there . The first thing that attracted me towards him was his book choice. He was enjoying the Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy. I had fantasized similar moments good knows how many times. A person with similar taste in literature sitting beside me and we both discussing about the novels and politics. But that day , perhaps it all happened in my head and not a single word came out.
But we did argue. We argued on the writing styles of contemporary authors and argued over the political issues of the country,but they were not in the way I had imagined. They were heated and he was not the one to lose. We were competitors. He was from Science and me,From Arts.It was not only the Debate stage where we faught . We faught in song competition. We faught in Literary clubs. For two egoistic people fighting for their Postion at the top,we were such an example.
After one of those debate sessions,I was the only girl left. It was getting dark. And it started to drizzle.I was planning ways to get into the hostel in time. Just when I settled for running in the rain trying to get drenched as little as possible, he offered me his umbrella and left me transfixed. Like a thunder bolt, he disappeared into the rains.
Was it the umbrella carrying his enigma or the rain making my senses go numb, I don’t know,But That crazy angry guy somehow managed to pave his way into my heart that night. I used to admire his wits and prospective a lot. Now when the admiration got a glimpse of the heart lying beneath that angry young man cover of his, it was hard not to fall for him.
Again, one day I was going to the library.This time I had his umbrella with me. Suddenly the weather worked as the cupid. He was coming out of his hostel and it started to rain. He took shelter under a tree near by and I made a mad rush to him. He looked at me with something unreadable in his eyes. I opened his umbrella and without looking at him went near him. Our Shoulders were touching and he put a hold on his umbrella.
I didn’t know when my wrecking heart became so brave. I was here standing beside a man , a man after my father whom I have started to admire ,fear and like simultaneously. But unnaturally it felt good. I felt safe under that umbrella in an unusual whether. Perhaps it’s his presence which made me feel safer. But what about the butterflies and the picking up of heartbeats. My heart thumped so fast in my chest that I feared he could Listen my racing heart beats.
We started our journey towards the Library. Everything seemed to be perfect. Even the heavy downpour , the roaring thunders seemed to play an archestra . But then the fate had to do the last dance. With a strong blow of wind , his umbrella bent down and was broken into halves. I was dumbfounded. I was like,”How am I supposed to go now! N moreover how am I going to return his umbrella. Perhaps I have to buy him a new one”. Deciding upon buying him a new one, I looked at him. He was looking straight at me. Raindrops going down his cheeks and making him look younger than his actual age, made it impossible for me to look at him without blushing. I averted my gaze and fumbled a Sorry. When I got to the point and asked him, not to worry about his umbrella as I would replace it with a new one he brust into laughter. I didn’t know how to react at first. It was the first time I was seeing him laugh. He had a rich voice. And when he laugh, it’s like someone had stroke some cords of my heart. It was contagious. I joined him. And within few seconds we both were laughing hysterically without a care in the world. We were at the middle of the road, stuck in heavy rain without any means of protection still laughing like children. He dragged me along with him and we went to a nearby temple. As we sat on the stairs he started humming a slow Melody. Unlike other times, this time we are in the same team. We cherished those moments as much as possible. In the meanwhile he took my dupatta and dried his wet hair with it.
It stopped raining . A smooth breez was sending shiver down our spins. He took me to the near by tea stall. We cheered to the new found Friendship of ours. Or may be we feared to name this relationship as it seemed too early.
After that incident the final semester came . We were too caught up in our own preparation that we didn’t have any time to meet or let alone to engaged in any kind of debate. Some accidental stolen glances and some stolen gossips that’s what I had of him.
The finals were over. We returned to our home. I never got a chance to confess my feelings for him, neither I got to confront him. More over it was that time , when it wasn’t lady like to ask a boy’s hand for marriage. And when I didn’t know his exact feelings for me, I decided it was better to lock him within my heart.
In the graduation day , I went to congratulate him with two packets in my hand. One had a black umbrella with his Initials engraved on it. And another package containg my wedding card.
I told him to open the card. He read it and silently returned it back to me. Then turned his back and started walking away from me. It felt like twisting knife into the flesh of mine. I called him . He stopped. I went to him and asked, “Mr. Samantray won’t you come to my wedding!?” With a faint curve he declined the invitation stating some emergency at home.
I took the hint and didn’t contact him afterwards. But he was there in my every poem in my every story. I had left my heart to him and now when my heart bleed into the papers it was only to make him alive. My creations made me feel connected to him. My husband used to say, jokingly, if he ever learns about this hero of mine he would kidnap him and strangle him with his bare hands. I laugh with him but my heart skips a beat and within that skipped beat ,I used to pray a little for his longer life.
But it seemed life was never fair to me. 25years after my marriage,One fine day my husband asked me to get ready to meet his boss who was in the hospital. When we went there, it seemed the time had stopped and I was living a nightmare. Abhigyaan was there. Lying on his death bed. I had no courage to face him. I needed a support. I clung to my husband’s arm. He opened his eyes and looked at us. At first a faint smile touched his lips when he saw my husband but when his gaze fell upon me, something sadder crossed his face and untamed tears fell. From both of our eyes. He asked Swadhin,my husband to bring his umbrella to him. Even after 25years I had no problem in recognizing those hand- engraved initials of his. He took the umbrella and with it’s support he tried to stand up. I could not see him struggle . I went to help him. He held my hand . I helped him to lie down. With my hand in his he closed his eyes. He closed his eyes and never open them again. I cried and cried. I cried for how many hours I don’t know.
My husband did all the requisites. We came home. I went to my study and burnt all those diaries , poems and stories of mine. With the departure of Abhigyaan Samntray a part of mine also left the earth.
Life was smooth, without any ups and downs. But something was missing. My passion. Though I knew it was missing, I had no wish to find it. Life was monotonous, so was my muse. I never lifted that pen again.
It has been 15years to that incident. I have never looked into the memories of Abhigyaan again. But today’s rain!! it brought memories and unfortunately this time I didn’t have his umbrella to protect me from getting drenched.Perhaps this was life’s way of teaching me to dance in the storm.