“While one memory is made, another fades.”
I finally saw him coming towards me. I had waited for him many a time before. But this time, he made me wait for too long. It was hard. Harder than I had imagined. But seeing him after all, seems worth it. He was wearing a new t-shirt. Blue in color. I was waiting for him to come a little closer so that I could figure out its brand. This time, on my own. We have not talked in the past 8 months. So many things have changed, including his wardrobe. I remember how he used to call me up and tell me everything about his day. Especially, when he went to shop (he usually shopped alone) or had a nice meal, he would call. Just to tease me and make me jealous. He would tell every detail of his new collection; the brand, the color, the price, how he found it, everything, every night. Airtel to Airtel night minutes. I use Vodafone now. He got closer. It was a Nike t-shirt. Blue, I believed, always looked good on him. I wondered if he noticed the kohl in my eyes yet. He had never seen me wearing kohl. I started wearing it months after we became strangers again. Or at least, pretended. He was getting closer. I wondered if I should greet him with a smile, a hug, a handshake or just remain cold, like he had been. I don’t remember what I did, how I greeted him, or didn’t hail at all. All I remember is, not remembering anything else on finding him standing in front of me. The air was cold. Due to the air condition, I assumed. I had thought about him all this while, and now he was here. He had lost weight. Of course, he had reasons to travel so many miles, every week. Or every day. Who knew? Even thinking about made my heart ache. I wondered what he was thinking. I tried to read his mind. He just stared at me. Blankly. Or so I guessed. May be, he had millions of thoughts running in his mind. May be, he noticed my kohl and liked it, or didn’t. May be, he’s wondering if he should compliment me, like he always did. Or just keep a glimpse of those eyes in his mind for the rest of his life, like so many other moments.
My kohled eyes blinked and the next moment, he and I were sitting on the platform of the metro station. Not too far from each other. Or so I believed. Or at least, wanted to. We stayed quiet. May be, our minds weren’t done thinking yet. I noticed his feet. Puma replaced Nike. Memories ran in. I remember how we sat for hours in a Café, talking to each other, while our feet would be locked together under the table. Sometimes, we would walk hand-in-hand, my little hand would perfectly fit in his plump one. I turned my gaze away, to one of the sides, where I couldn’t see him. I saw Kareena smiling at me, instead. Memories again. I sighed, thinking of the many movies we saw together. If only we could make it to the one we both promised to see together. I sighed again. I sighed often these days. Too many sighs means too many regrets. Or may be, too much regret for just one mistake. I mustered all my strength and turned to my right, to look at him.
“I wanna say something.” I finally said. I noticed his specs had changed too. He wasn’t wearing Zeiss anymore, so he can be wrong now, I cracked the joke in my mind. But I had no strength to chuckle. Not even in my imagination. Every part of me knew how wrong he was. May be, every part of me was wrong. But that hardly mattered now.
He was still facing down. I wondered if it was guilt. I wished it was.
“I never really knew what I wanted. And I assumed I knew what I didn’t want. But it seems, I was never really aware of my own self. I always admired you for not judging me. If only I knew, all this while, when you were silently listening to every word I said, you were doing nothing but judging me. And you used your judgement and you gave your verdict. The verdict to part your way from mine. You decided to move on without me. You were brave enough to make that decision. Or may be, too weak to hold on to us. You know it better.”
He was absolutely silent. I expected him to answer back. I expected him to justify. He just kept staring at his goddamn shoes. Nike was better, I thought. My opinion didn’t matter anymore.
“I wanted everyone to be mine. I never wanted anyone to own me. And with that thought deeply instilled in my mind, I made everyone want me. At some point, you wanted me too. And I took it for granted. Until you began to know me. So well, that you didn’t want me anymore and I wanted to be yours. Now, I have everyone I wanted. And I am nobody’s. But a part of me is. A part of me has always been. Yours. It’s too late. I know. But I’m hoping it isn’t. And you could still come back to me…”
He finally turned his gaze towards me and looked straight into my hopeful eyes. With just a word, my entire world could change or shatter into a million pieces, all over again. I was afraid to imagine either. Interrupting the chain of my thoughts, a metro suddenly entered the platform with a strong blinding flash of light and stormed out with an immense speed. I shut my eyes in reflex. When I opened them, I was all alone on the platform. He was gone. A sharp sound almost deafened me in my sleep. It was my alarm. A typical end to an atypical dream, I thought. I dismissed it and tried to go back to sleep again, hoping to run into him on the platform and learn his answer. I had not asked him a question. But I was still hoping for an answer. An answer, I never really got…