The sudden, harsh outburst of light struck me defenceless, crippling me for few moments... Getting up before it, as a victim raises its head before its impaler seconds before he is going to be executed, I saw that it had blinded me completely. All I could see was the swirling mist of darkness. All I could feel was helplessness, desolation.
Then there was a jerk, a shrieking noise of friction between two metals resisting each other’s inertia, a bump somewhere, and clouding sigh as if something exhausted had taken a long deserved break. The cumulative result was that I had been spared of one nightmare to enter into another. And this time there was no escaping it. I guess when you live a reality of nightmare; there is no end to your woes. To put it in mundane words, I woke up.
I got up from my berth, which was the lowest one, and felt around in the darkness for water bottle. The bloody jerking halt of train had rolled it down. I squatted on the floor and finally traced it cuddling along with luggage under the seat. Breaking into its leaky romance, I opened the cap and drank some noisy gulps of water spilling most of it on my dress.
My movements woke her up from the top most berth, so I decided I did rather switch to discreet mode. But unlike me there was respite for her in matters of dream and reality, so the question of transition existed too. Albeit a slow one.
She yawned loudly, though never pointedly. I would have loved it had she done it that way. Oh the list of the things I would have loved in her! Incorporated and sealed like an unchangeable programme... But I haven’t been given that luxury. I have to live up with pity and remorse. Remorse and pity. Like alternating current these two things keep on coming and destabilising my paradise. Sometimes from my side. Sometimes from theirs.
‘What happened Shyam? You need something?’ she asked, her voice coated with unbearable affection.
‘Nothing dear. I’ll manage’ I grunted, trying to keep away the derisiveness in my voice.
‘Oh well then I’d rather go back to sleep…’ she said again falling down on the hard makeshift bed sprung up between the top and the bottom berths. Within seconds she was again peacefully snoring. That left me with my darkness and loneliness. And incompleteness. And of course the living nightmares. Nice little chirrupy world of fascination of mine. Complete in black and white. Black for good and white for bad. So easy was it to fall back saying its ok and peacefully ease into sleep. So damn fucking easy!
Swirling within the light grey hued tempest of visions I tried doing the same thing as her. I fell back on my inflated pillow. I tried to rest. To be calm. To imagine her face as I had known it and visualise that smile which used to cool off everything within me in an instant. No that was not working any better. I’d rather throw the pillow across the seat and suffocate the heavy snores obviously coming from an elderly lady. Alas!
I got down, rummaged around the floor to locate my footwear, finally found them crushed beneath the elderly lady’s suitcase, snatched it out and set rolling about in the crowded aisle of the dark train. Managing to get down, I rumbled a few feet into the darkness on the empty station platform. When I asked a hurried gentleman about the station, he told we had reached Igatpuri. It was safe. The train was going to wait for long since the engines were changing for uphill climb of the Sahyadri. There was plenty of time.
Sudden hooting of a horn brought back those excruciating memories. Wasn’t it at a similar juncture in a similar environment I had lost my ability to be normal again? Ever again! Do I hear the same horn blaring in the midst of that rain washed street? Do I see the same child jumping across the road, bobbing behind his ball which had gone astray on the road? Do I see the same car zooming across, zipping past deliriously? Do I see a drunken truck driver losing control of his gargantuan beast? Do I feel the sickening rise of realisation up in my throat? Do I run in the middle of an obvious crash to rescue the confounded child? Do I see collision just inches away from me? Do I realise the gravity of the situation when my eyes watch the last scene of their lives? Do I dread, get appalled fascinated intrigued angry guilty confused moved and marvelled all at the same time when I see tiny shards of glass from the exploded windshield of the car fly towards me like mini daggers? Tiny pesky little bits of glass which wouldn’t have caused anything more than a tiny pinprick if it had hit me at any other part of my body! But these tiny pesky little bits of glass were deemed to hit the most sensitive tissues of my body. And render me a cripple forever. Do I scream in anguish agony dereliction frustration agony pain excruciation torment and loss at the spasms of paining running through my body? Do I collapse down writhing and jerking like and repugnant dead body? Do I hear the doctors announce my fate nonchalantly, pushing me into an irrecoverable hell? And does the oddly silenced hospital air is troubled when my cry rants into it when I realise I have been announced a blind without any hope of recovery? Yes I do. Because judging from the fluttering of wings on the nearby tree, and resting of a soft hand on my shoulders, I had again screamed out in exasperation. Another thing which I realised was the station must be empty, devoid even of the station master, since no one else had been roused enough to get up and help me.
‘Shyam… Oh Shyam!’ she sighed into my ears, cradling my head into her bosom. I cried uncontrollably, sniffing and snotting like a kid in his mother’s arms. I felt lost, even when I had no reason to feel so, when I had the most treasurable treasure in the world. I felt incomplete even when I was crying in my lovers arms, even when I was under the warm and cosy comfort of the blanket of love. To tell the truth, I was not crying out of anxiety. It was the understanding of the loss in the battle which made me behave like a puny. They were tears of anguish which trickled down my cheeks. It was hopelessness.
When there is darkness, absolute and muffled darkness around a person, it is then he can feel the need for light. And when the darkness is the call of doom; irresolute and unchangeable; it is then the person feels the loss of life. I had lost my life then, there in my lovers caring and compassionate arms. Her sweet words of consolation making me realise their futility, making me realise the absence of life light joy fun and happiness. I lost a battle in a field of comfort and got slayed by my benefactor.
I felt for her face, trying to memorise it the way I remembered; the indent of her nose, the long eyelashes, the high cheekbones, the neat brow line, the soft curl of hair falling on her ears, the smoothness of her skin, the suppleness of her lips, the lusciousness of her pout, the edges of her smile, the dimple on her left cheek, the birthmark on her back… I tried to see everything with my hands, feel the love radiate through my fingers, feel the passion of my love through the touch. I smiled for the last time, giving up in my battle. The white flag was unfurled.
She took my face into her cupped arms, and the waft of her aroma entered my nose. My knees went weak again, as I felt the burden on my heart relaxing. Then she brought her lips to touch mine. And then the world got lost as I got united with my benefactor/slayer. I felt the heat pulsing through each pore of my body, felt the wetness of her lips, the shyness of her tongue, the impatience of her lips as they slipped over mine; trying to overcome each other, but overcoming the world… For once, and the last time I was devoid of anything. It was just she and me and overlapping lips fighting the world under the pretext of one another. And the rest was a zilch.
After several millenniums solace, I broke away and smiled. And smiled some more. The fatigue was slowly coming back, but something still kept me guarded. There was some light still. Or some trace of it. Like a remnant drop of elixir in the goblet of eternity. But then, just like the door shutting out the single slit of evanescence bursting in the darkness, everything turned pitch black and dark again. Darkness was victorious once more.
‘Come inside Shyam. We’ll fight this. We shall overcome everything. I love you. And you love me. We will waddle our way through.’ She said. I listened with irony bearing down on my heart again.
How sad... How very sad!
My native town was bang in the centre of the country at
‘Of course my love. I know you will be there for me. I’ll come… soon.’ I said.
She lapped it up, all that pretence and holding of grit and nerves. I barely could hold back my tears, but I had to, it was me and not she who was blind. I can still imagine her smiling in agreement, her face smeared with collective tears both from her seeing, and my blind eyes. I can imagine her coming near my face for the last time and kiss me silently first on the cheek, then lightly on my lips and after rubbing her nose against mine turning behind and leaving nothing but bitter memories and her sweet fragrance in the air.
I turned in the darkness to face god knows what. Now picture this. A boy is deeply in love with the girl who loves him equally in return. Fate plays a cruel game with them when the boy is rendered blind for the rest of his life. Both are destroyed and devastated but both react differently to the situation. One is still hopeful, still believing, still optimistic. I don’t think there is any further need to elaborate the others condition. On insistence of the one, the other and the one are about to be married. The other suddenly comes up with an idea more than a month after the accident and a week before their engagement. He books a ticket for an up-down trip of his native place for both of them. One happily agrees to come, getting an opportunity to spend some time with the other. In midst of the journey other gets down on the station he knows is a long stop. The one follows him and they share their last good moment together. Other promises the one to come back. But other had different plans right from the time he booked tickets. He does not climb the train even when it hoots loudly. He lets it pass by and stays alone on the platform, distancing the one from the other. All smiles and grimaces he hears the bogies pass as the train carries away one from the other. And then the other stays… … … …
You might feel I am a very stupid and pessimistic person. But I am in love. And my love saw what my lover with eyes could not see. My love saw the incompletion which would have created a huge void between me and her. And thus my love decided it was better that we don’t stay with each other.
I am not weak. I am fearful. Not for myself. But what I would have done to her!