Thursday, June 26, 2008

A short story: A walk by the Lake

"Oh god, no! This can't be happening," he moaned. Another phone call. Another argument. Probably the inevitable, a break-up. He had been trying, trying for months, to keep everything going, make things alright again between him and her. But, it wasn't working out. His fault, her fault, he did not know. His friends told him it was not worth it, not worth putting in so much effort. If it wasn't meant to last, then leave it, that's what they all said. Yet he had been so happy with her, he couldn't let it go.

It was almost evening. The sleepy roads were waking up again, his home, just off the Lake Gardens-Lake flyover was again starting to fill up with noise. Small cars, big cars, bikes, scooters, all with the same intensity of noise were boring into his brain. He wanted to scream out for peace, for silence, but he knew it would go unheeded.

The memories came crashing in. Always. Even when he wanted them to leave, they would occupy his thoughts. All the happy memories, yet, they made him cry. Together with her, hands entwined, smiling faces, tender kisses, passionate kisses, happiness... Why did everything amount to so much pain now? He had no idea. He wanted to run away from them, forget them, yet he couldn't do that. That's all he had left, the memories. With them gone, too, he would be left with nothing, nothing at all. What a scary proposition, but still a tempting one. A fresh burst of tears. He had been crying almost everyday, almost every time.

"What's wrong with me? I wasn't like this!" He asked himself, wistfully.

He reached out for a cigarette. They helped him in times like this, by keeping the mind numb. Some induced peace, but still, some peace. But his pack was empty, he had finished the whole lot in the afternoon. He swore under his breath. Now he would have to go out to buy some. It was such a pain even to go out these days. All the street corners, the dirty ali-golis, even the phuchka-walas, everything brought back some tiny little detail of his past, of his past which he shared with her.

He dressed, it was cold outside, and so a jacket was a necessity. He went out, bought the pack from the local paanwala and decided to take a walk. It was too long that he had been cooped up in his home.

And his legs carried him across the bridge to the lake. There were scores of cars on the bridge, there was a stationary train under the bridge, and amidst the noise and the chaos, he crossed the bridge and stood beside the dark water of the place called the lake.

A cold wind was blowing, yet the trees were not moving. There was a certain spooky aura around them. It was almost unnerving. He lit a cigarette. And as the smoke seemed to engulf him, so did the ghostly silence of the lake. The lake was dark, ripples created on it by the wind. And as the beauty surrounded him, so did a sense of silence. The cars seemed to lose their sound. The whistle of the train fading into a quiet oblivion. The rustle of the leaves could be felt now, among the high skeletal trees. They seemed to whisper something, but he could not quite catch what. And as the cigarette ended, and began his walk back to the place called home, he was already home, in the silence of the cold night. The blazing lights of the cars passed him, dazzled him, and he was in another world, in a place of tranquility, in the peace of his mind. A hum came to his voice, a Pink Floyd number, but he forgot the lyrics, only the first line came and went, "A silence surrounds me..."

The walk had changed something. The trees had whispered and passed on their age-old wisdom to him. What it was, or how it had been passed, he did not quite know, but he could feel his fears, his pain, ebb away.

He was so sure he would die if he had to let go of his girl. He had lost her, but he had not died. In a way though, he had, but he had again been reborn.

Not from the womb of his mother, but from the souls of understanding and wisdom. He had years to live, a lot of things to do, make a thousand faces smile, did it matter really someone he had lost? It wasn't always about being happy or sad. It was about living fully. He would have to die someday, and it was a waste of his life if he ended it soon - a thought that had passed his mind - and it was also a waste if he was always sad.

He smiled. It was his first smile in weeks. He had a lot of things to do, a lot of adventures to take part in.

And he knew where to start.