I looked into her eyes….like I’d never looked before…and knowing completely that I may not look into them again, in the same way. The silence was uncomfortable. A lot of words were to be said. A lot of words could’ve been said. But then, we chose them carefully. Each word could make a world of difference. What if we never met again and this last conversation was not the memory we intended to make?
We were fully aware of the circumstances. We always had to part. Though not aloud, we had imagined this moment for months now. Now we wondered how we could actually do it, without hurting and hating each other. May be that way was easier. You could hate someone and forget them. But how could you love someone and forget them? I always wondered if the “out of sight is out of mind” adage is true. But how would she be of out sight….when the last image I saw every night before falling asleep was her eyes….and those strands of hair that fell in front of her left eye….and the way she gracefully hid them back behind her ears…till they fell in front of her eyes again….
The strands fell in front of her eyes again. It broke my chain of thoughts. She hid it again and I knew the silence was getting more and more uncomfortable.
“ So…you’re leaving in the morning?” I knew everything right from the train number, to the seat she would occupy to the departure time. We had discussed this at least ten times. I still asked.
“ I have to….” she replied. Like she had no choice. She probably had none. But would she have taken it, if she had a choice? I always wondered.
“ What if the train to your town is permanently cancelled?” I said. There was a pause. My heart beat fast as I waited for her reply.
“ I would’ve to take a bus” she replied…and burst out laughing. This was part of why I liked her so much. The ability to make light of a serious situation. But somehow, it got on my nerves that evening. May be she noticed it too. She placed her hand on mine..looked into my eyes and said
“ You know I’ve got no choice.” This always calmed me down. I was sometimes scared no one would understand me like she did.
Somehow, the way she reconciled to the fact that we could never be together was alarming. It was as though I was already a part of her past. I would probably take months to heal. And she would always occupy a precious little corner in my heart. Would it be the same for her as well? Would she remember me?
“ Would you even remember me, after a few years?” I asked. Insecurity was creeping. And the funny part was I felt insecure that I wouldn’t be a part of her memories…let alone her life.
“ I’ve got something for you….” she said. It was obviously a topic-changing tactic. I mean, she always did that when we headed the emotional way. I felt weird. I was always one for emotional, dreamy conversations. She was always the more practical. May be that’s why we worked…may be that’s why we didn’t work.
She handed me a gift. It was wrapped in golden yellow. I smiled. It was her first gift…and probably the last one. Every time we met after a gap, I always asked her…” What have you got for me?”And she always said“ I’m here in person…what more do you want?”
“ So…is this because..you won’t be there in person anymore?” I said sadly. I cursed this mode of mine at times. But I just couldn’t let go so easily. She knew it too.
“ Why don’t you understand? It’s just not possible. I need to go.” Her eyes moistened slightly. Somehow, it made me happy. Like I meant something to her…if not everything. “ Let’s talk something normal. Okay? Normal. When’re you leaving for home?” she was good at this.
I must say, I always lacked the power or will…to actually get angry or argue with her. I had tried to hate her many times, knowing that it was the only way I could move on. But no…it was -to put it in her words — just not possible.
Our conversation meandered around some mundane stuff for some more time. I just wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. The moon had risen fully. There was no one walking around anymore. After a while, we suddenly realised the silence around us. It made both of us conscious.
“ I think I must go.” she said. “ Yes you should” I parroted. We got up from those stone steps. I stood close to her….as close as I was permitted. I looked into her eyes for a whole minute. “ You’re beautiful” I said. “ Thank you”, she said and looked down. It was getting a little heavy for both of us. But there was no escaping it.
That strand of hair fell in front of her eyes again. I don’t know what made me do it…..but I took it, and placed it behind her ears..its rightful place. She looked at me.I didn’t know if she was hurt….or if she was blushing.
“ I’m sorry.” I said. “ But…I wanted to do that…atleast once in my life”. There was silence. She recovered…and said “ I’d better get going. Need to do some last minute packing” I had to recover too. We shook hands, like professionals, and said “Good-Bye” to each other.
I took a few steps. And turned to look back at her. She was about to disappear behind a bend, when I shouted “ Hey….come here. I have a plan.”
“ What is it..? I need to rush….”
“ It’s like this…we both live for an other 50 years say. 2065. Then we die. We are born again in 2089. Let’s come back here in 2113. Atleast that time..would you agree to be my companion for life?” My heart was pounding again. Here I was, a stupid romantic, trying to reserve a slot for a next time that nobody knows if it exists! And my expectation was as realistic as though I was talking about next year. We looked at each other for a few seconds.
In the end, she only said “ You are mad!”
Like I said, I was the eternal dreamer….and she was downright practical.
But somehow, even in the moonlight, I could notice she was blushing. And after a couple of minutes of mute staring and smiling, I could swear she took a step towards me…..
Was that moment advanced by a 100 years, all of a sudden?