I wondered aimlessly. I didn’t think. Thinking took too much effort and the thoughts it created were not worth venturing down quite yet. I just walked because that was all I could do. My phone was in my pocket and I was reminding myself that “my phone rings loudly and vibrate strongly”, when somebody calls on my number.
I endured the temperature, a kingsize sun was on my head seemed to have been deployed specially for me to suffer and it was doing well.
I waited for my cell phone to become alive like it often used to be. The dry hot wind mixed with fine dust ran down the ghats with a horrifying sound… and at every occurance was hitting my face, forcing me to close my eyes and cover my face with my hands, but like dazzaling sun… the hot and lethal wind (we call it loo) seemed to hit and shake me until it bit into my skin.
I was not walking to anywhere in particular or for any other reason than to stall; or was I indulging my emotional self with the strong smell of those long black uncontrolable fulfy hair? Or was I striving to convince my stubborn conscience that she is not with me anymore.
The series of ancient ghats were deserted, yet the congestion was something this city could never get rid of. Endless structure of stones by this side of holy river ganga and men in homemade underwear ‘Langote’, jobless people sitting in small piece of shadow of ghat’s structure, and random offers, coming from boatmen …. was telling that people living in Varanasi don’t care a damn even if they know that sky is falling. What they all needed was food to live on and shelter to sleep in.
“No ambitions, No worries,” I thought bitterly. I raised my head and looked at the other side of river.
Everything was intact. No changes in all these years. The white stretch of sand was like nomansland, a red triangle cloth tied on the top of long bamboo was telling the story. The story of unusually rarest story of two. The story of us.
My mind trailed off. How could she be like this? What could she be doing? Didn’t she miss me? And I started wondering if she ever loved me. Does she even want to see me? Am I simply just wasting my time?
My mind immediatly rejected the idea. How is it possible?
No, no, no I thought, don’t let your mind wonder off. Thinking hurts too much. She cannot just be gone without a goodbye or a mere fare thee well.
“Tomorrow at 11”, I’d said. “We will go for a ride on boat across the river, will stay there until dusk. It would be wonderful.”
Reality versus expectations- We are never the same.
I approached the river and walked down the steep steps till I was on the edge of the stone plateform.
I sat down and looked out across. It was bright shining bed of sand. Deserted except for the whirls caused by the wind.
The silence was the best part. Silence was a commodity I longed for. I felt my phone in my pocket and looked at the time, eleven-thirty. No messages, no missed calls, not anything. I put it away and stared at the horizan on the other side of the river. I bend my elbows and placed it on thigh, and stuck my bearded chin on my palms to give a bit of relief to my aching back, and waited for a call.
At eleven-forty-five it finally arrives. The phone rings and I answer. Contempt, hate, rage, and longing coursed through me. I don’t speak immediately. Control is important,nothing good comes from impulse.
“Hello Carol. Is it as I fear? Will I still see you here?”
“I’m sorry, I am sorry I took so long. The people I was with just kept rambling on and on, like loons, but don’t be mad, I will be beside you soon.”
A consolation time, being second, what else should one expect? Don’t expect anything and you will never be disappointed I always said. “Okay then. It was your time, and never mine, but yours to spend. I just thought it was on you that I could depend.”
A blow of hot wind hits me. My ears went numb, then my cheeks, and then my toes.
Finally, I stood up and removed my shoes. I put my foot in water and the cold breeze went through my nerves. The river welcomed me, and spread its arms to hug me. I stepped down into the knee deep water.
Twelve o’clock my phone told now.
Better late than never I thought. And I took one more step down into the water.
Then one more, and then more. I started feeling the very same smell of her body. She was, perhaps, approching toward me. I felt cool breeze on face and I let my eyes fell shut.
Her hands was running through my hair. Cold hands. I looked up and saw her. The smile crept across our faces as we stared. “Hello Carol,” I said looking above into the sky.
“Why have you taken so long? I have been waiting for you since January, two years back.”
She replied, “Because you dear, are not whom I belong to. You have known this for far too long. Yet, you never resisted yourself for loving me. I always tried to convince you that I am pushing you toward destruction. Every now and then I shown that I have somebody more important than you. You knew that I was not fair to you …still you loved me.”
I listened my shivering voice, saying …
“That I always lived for you. You never felt but I was always around you.”
“I always reminded myself the promises you did. That things only get colder and harder, but never darker.”
“That I always kept my words. I have love for you that cannot be swayed with a feeling that you loved someone I hated the most.”
“Carol, why didn’t you ever understand that it was you who made me give value to life.”
She was wrapping her body around mine. Her cold lips came and stayed on mine. Her breaths started entering from my mouth and nostrils, filling my lungs… she was imbibing me in herself.
And I felt her whispering into my ears, “I will be all yours. Though it may hurt, I promise you will just simply awake. With my hand in your hair and a smile in which we both partake. And I won’t be cold. I will be something you can actually hold. And be far more than Lenore or some forgotten lore. I will be yours.”
I felt my head getting lighter. My tired heart was getting relaxed. I was getting colder and colder, she was taking me away from all those things I earned. And, I was getting closer and closer to something I had never felt. I was on my fast drive towards ‘Peace’… leaving a cluster of bubbles floating on the surface of river.