Friday, December 11, 2015

The Questions of the Heart (Part 1)

He is sipping tea from a red-brown earthen cup on his fingers when a familiar tune is coming to life from the road on the east. A film song is playing on a radio on a tall green bicycle. Invaded by fog, the city is all white, and the occasional glowing red backlights and blinking yellow lights inform a nearby vehicle. The tea stall seems an island inhabiting life and chatter. The silence in the morning is pierced only by the honking. The green bicycle crossed the tea shop. The tune had again been absorbed by the mist, but it played on in his mind. 
Yesterday was his thirty-second birthday, spent like a day before yesterday or like any day in past one year. Two years before, his phone used to sing the same tune when she would call. The tune played and his lips warmed with tea. Feeling she still belonged to him. Her bosom still a place for his head to hide. A sense of loss clutched his heart. Three teas in a row. He clasped the shawl and rose from the three legged bench, supported on arranged bricks in place of the absent fourth. He thought it was right for him to leave. You can’t go to a certain place without leaving somewhere. Like, he had to leave tea-stall to reach room. The tea-stall keeper entered the money to be paid in a long notebook which had lost its corners and a few pages of the end.
On the way back room, his eyes clung to a shop with its first name as hers. Over the one year, the shop had become a constant reminder of her in his life. Though the shopkeeper was ugly and detached-unlike her in every aspect of human behaviour- he bought grocery from there. How more of her he had inside. She had always been absent inside him. Now, she was approaching him in bits. 
The party was hosted in Columbus, an elite bar in Delhi. Everything about the bar- black big fluffy sofas, dim yellow light, red mat floor, small water fountains and neatly dressed waiters- was aesthetically grand. The song “Light my Fire” by “The Doors” was coming out of small pores on beautiful women on the carved wooden walls. At eight, when Mr. Hamilton, the white representative of the company, joined the party, Vijay blew away the candles on cake and everyone sang ‘Happy birthday to you’. He turned 27, today. He says he would not want to live beyond 50 when monotony would have taken over the joys of life. In that sense, he has already lived more than half of his life. At 27, he was to start discovering himself when Kurt Cobain, Morrison and other member of 27 Club had taken out the best in themselves and had even parted ways from the world. 
Disha, dressed in a black ankle-length velvet dress that reveals her golden arms and shoulders and half-cleavage, a symbol of brimming youth, came up smiling to him, hugged him and whispered ‘your room, tonight’. He is barely able to hide smiles. Everything in their faces smiled- eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, lips. She stayed with him for some moments then vanished among other her other friends. Everyone except Disha left early, to reach office next day on time. For a year, Vijay had been working in headquarters of the company, twelve miles away from the office where Disha works and where he and Disha first met and spent their five years falling in relationship. 
They drove to his apartment, parked the car. As they entered the room, he locked the door and kissed her. They undressed and slid into bed. The embrace had no intensity, only lukewarm folding of arms. In the moments near midnight, the lump of hidden loneliness choked his throat. 
What is he doing here? Streams of thoughts of becoming a guitarist had taken shape of a strong resolution; a resolve to chase the mirage of his own image as guitarist. The urge to run away turned strong, then stronger. He was earning in one month what his father earns in a year. In ten years with the current rate of his salary hike, he would out-earn his father’s lifetime earnings, with pension and provident fund deposits put together.
He had practiced guitar at his university, with dedication. There, for hours, he would be absorbed amid the tunes, often playing the same tunes. Closing his eyes and clicking a particular tune over and over. Feeling, as if touching the undulations of the tune. Often at nights, he would be on marijuana to numb the pain in his fingers, still playing, feeling, touching.
‘Music is my element. One day I will run away from this mad world to a secluded place.’ he said from his painful throat.
‘Sure. You must go.’ she had said, completely aware of his alcoholic haze.
‘I have to find my answers.’ he said to her.
‘Come here.’ She pulled him close to her and held her tightly, giggled. After a short pause, she said, ‘I am with you. You do what you want. I know, nothing can stop you.’
The belief for him in her voice calmed him and the lump melted away. But he didn’t resign from the job for two years. Every day, he thought about music and the money needed to survive later on. The weeks, by end of which he was to leave the job, extended into months and years.
On his 29th birthday, he didn’t invite colleague-friends to any party. He coaxed his boss to give him a week’s leave to visit home. Instead of home, he left for Rishikesh, without telling anyone, without cell-phone, and stayed in a hotel. Out of touch of the gross world. Doing nothing, all time thinking, deciding.
He had enough money to survive for his life if he remains frugal, does he need more? No. What a waste of life it would be if he were not able to discover his talent. He had already lived more than half of the life he had decided to live. Not even a moment shall pass wasted. Money and things, he had had enough. He will tell truth to his parents. The world just doesn’t stop demanding, it goes on. One should play his cards.
On the tenth day, while checking out from the hotel, he was sure. When he returned to Delhi, he submitted resignation within a week. His friends were surprised, some very happy, a few inspired. Disha was angry, then sad. It seemed she would not see him from then, but she came to his apartment in the afternoon on the day of departure. Her anger and grief had lost the battle, and he didn’t withdraw the resignation. 
She couldn't see anything in the apartment, except taped brown cartons. He was lying in the bedroom on a green mattress. She sat on the mattress with her back against the wall and he put his head on her lap. 
“What are you thinking?” She passed her hand through his hair and began crushing a curl, slipping fingers over soft ends of his hair. His eyes remained fixed to a landscape painting he had been gifted last year. The rising sun or the sinking sun. Before she entered, he kept finding hints what the painter truly wanted to depict. Now, he gave up and stared at the round edge of the sun.
“Hmm.... What are you thinking?” she asked.
His stare, lost in the orange sun, seemed to be looking into a distant unknown land.
“You won’t continue here, Ai?” she said, “Will you?”
“I don’t know.”
“From all over India people come here and……… and……. you are going to village.” She paused for a moment, then said, “Go. I won’t say anything.”
“I have already spent half...actually more than half.. of my life. I need my answers.”
“You are trying hard to invite problems. Go on.”
“We can talk on phone. And I will visit you every month. It’s not like before that you had to wait for weeks and months for letters. Few months and then I will come back to Delhi.”
She put his head down on the bed and straightened her legs. She held her knees with her folded arms and hid her head inside.
 “Don’t cry, please. You know it is hard for me, too. ”, he said.
He embraced her and both cried. He began gripping her dearly as shivers would cross through her body. His tears came out, influenced by hers, flew calmly, dripping from his chin on her shoulder.
“I know you wouldn’t return.”
“Are you insane? I cannot live without you. Don’t you see how much I love you?” He looked into her eyes and reassured her. “I will call you twice every week. The small towns have PCOs there. And If I don’t, you can just come to my address. Just five hours by train.” He paused and hold her chin in his fingers. “Now, that’s okay. Okay?”
She lowered her gaze and pursed lips. She was inviting tears. He kissed her and began making love to her while she kept looking into his eyes and feeling the contours of his back. After the orgasm, she closed her eyes and felt his face and body, as if to draw him from the world in darkness. Pull him in her world and not let go. He was in her world now, and would remain so until she would loosen her grip. After an hour of sense of possession, she let him go.
“What you’d take? Well, there is only coffee.” he asked.
They sipped coffee together while he checked his mobile phone. She kissed him before getting ready to leave, telling herself that distances don’t do apart truly loving hearts. She will bear these six months, then they will marry.
“When is your train?” she asked.
“I am taking bus. Midnight.”
They hugged each other, the final lingering hug, readying them for a long separation. "Don’t worry. I’ll phone you as I reach there." He pecked on her forehead, a detached peck, and turned the knob of the door. They came out and walked, talking irrelevant things, and reached bus-stand. As the bus entered the bus-stop, her eyes turned teary.
‘I will wait for you.’ She realized she said it more to herself than to him. She sat on the window seat and they kept looking at each other till the bus disappeared around the bend.


1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this place and you can definitely find me here for more events. I didn't eat anything when on my recent visit to venue NYC, but those around me had truffle fries, pizza, and wings all seemed to enjoy.