Wednesday, 11 March 2020

OS part 2 : Remembering, reflecting and waiting...

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow...

The first thing he did as soon as his flight touched down on Indian soil was to call hospital and find out where his girlfriend was. Since there was still couple of hours till dawn, he wanted to check if she was on night duty as that information was going to decide the plan for his entire day. He felt disappointment wash over him when the duty nurse told him that Riddhima was not expected to be in hospital for another five hours. His mood picked up considerably remembering the fact that he was actually a day early and he could surprise her in person. He remembered the last moments that he had spent with her on a cool monsoon day, the day before his travel. He felt a smile touch his face and easy warmth traveled all around him.

She was such a study in heartbreak. He had managed to break her heart and hadn't even realized that she had placed her heart in his palms when he told her about his upcoming leave of absence. Her movements were halted when she had seen his face. His face raw with emotion had a storm brewing in his eyes; his skin had looked paler under the lights of the pathology lab. She didn't miss the slight tremors of his fingers when he tightly clutched the edge of a nearby table. As soon as the words left his mouth she had felt stillness in the air and noise around them had reduced to loud beating of her heart, now becoming a roar in her ears. His whole world had reduced to that one moment where there were only him, her and their respective heartbreaks. Her eyes had lost their prior worrying stance to become blank; their color was reduced from clear night sky to the color of shattered glass; empty and transparent. Her cheeks had lost their pinkish color mirroring his pale skin. Her breathing was sharp and she had looked as if someone was strangling her. There were no tears, no cry of emotion nor any angry rants about him leaving her. She had sat down on the floor, no longer trusting her shaking calves to bear her weight and simply cradled her now splitting head in her gloved palms.

That image of her was burnt in his mind and had made infinite re-occurrences in the past few days. It was not as if he was going away for ever. It was only a matter of weeks that he would be away from the hospital, from this town, from this country, from her. But for two people who saw each other every day bar few Sundays here and there, who relied on each other's comfort and physical warmth on a lousy day, even a few weeks of staying apart was a huge deal; especially with the jobs that they had. He contemplated on visiting her first before he went back to his apartment. He squashed that feeling as it was too early in the morning to disturb her. As the cab sped through the city that was just waking up, his thoughts drifted back to his partner and on that day when he gave her the news.

When she looked up from her sitting position on the floor, he had seen an errant tear escaping the depths of her eyes, traversing through her cheek in a desperate rivulet of regret and finally falling unceremoniously on the floor. He had collapsed next to her on the floor and had touched that now drying tear drop. The wetness of that lone tear on his forefinger had burned his finger and had somehow managed to clamp his throat. He had pulled her to him and she had rested her ear right above his heart taking comfort in its rhythmic beating. He knew that she was scared of the day when she would do a similar gesture and hear nothing but silence. He had tightened his hold on her and she had sunk further into him. They had not cried on that day. They had simply mourned for the loss of mutual companionship. They had mourned for the time they won't get to spent their break time sharing coffee and a sandwich, they had mourned for midnight phone calls and odd gifts that would be missed dearly and they had mourned for the times that they were going to spend missing each others' laughs.

His reverie was broken when the cab driver announced that they had reached the place. His caretaker gave him a warm greeting and mentioned that Riddhima had dropped by once. He was surprised with this bit of information. She rarely dropped by his place, almost never but she had visited him when he was not there. He decided to get some sleep before he could go back to hospital. Just as his head was about to hit the pillow, he saw a faint trace of lipstick on clean white pillow cover. He immediately understood the reason for her visit. She had always sought his solace, his words and his comfort when life at hospital had overwhelmed her. In his physical absence, she had sought him in one place where she knew his presence would be felt: his room. The intimacy of the act overwhelmed him. He could smell a lingering scent of her left on his pillows soothing him, beckoning him over. When he pulled covers over him, he felt like he was connecting with his girlfriend all over again just by the traces of her presence that she had left behind. He was yearning to meet her, but not entirely missing her as he enjoyed her invisible presence in his room. There was warmth all around him and he fell into an easy sleep, lost in dreaming about forest smelling perfume, shiny pink lipstick an extra-ordinary woman; his memories of monsoon.

He found out at nurses' station that she was working in pathology lab, again. He was amused at the irony of the situation. He saw her standing in a corner of the lab, her eyes fixed on a thick stack of reports, her mouth muttering odd findings, her gloved hands noting down anything that her brain deemed important. He slowly entered the lab and allowed himself to watch her from afar. After a few moments, as if realizing that something was different in the ambiance, her eyes traveled around the lab to finally settle on him. For him, it felt as if she was suddenly woken from a catatonic state. She cried out his name in joy and he found himself grinning at her. She dropped the pen and papers that she had held so dearly only moments ago to hold on to the table to support her. He could see that her entire demeanor had changed in split second she was a sight of true happiness. As she ran to settle in his arms, he decided that the memory of that monsoon evening was now erased to make way for a new one - her current state of happiness. He could hear her gushing warm pleasantries into his neck, her gloved hand cool and tickling the base of his neck and her body humming to a tune unknown to him. He inhaled a faint smell of perfume, smell of chemicals and a unique smell of her in his embrace. The happiness of the present washed away the melancholy of the past, making way for the future that they both dreamed of. He knew that in future, this day would come again and at that time they will have to go through the entire cycle again and perhaps next time it would hurt more than it had hurt this time, but till then, they had each other to hold on to.


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