Thursday, February 27, 2020

2717 : One last time


The doctor had given him not more than a couple of days. He had known for a good 28 years that he was edging towards his death. The timing was always uncertain, and the doctor had forewarned him, that when the end came along - it would be painful.

A close encounter with death had transformed him early on (more on that later). A cultivated effort to hide the wedge stuck in his insides....a persona that hid his dissonance. A dissonance that comes from being acutely aware of his own broken compass.

And a health that slacks and wanes. More so, waxes and wanes.

She came to meet him. She looked ravishingly beautiful - long hair, stunning jewelry, peach-colored lips further accentuated by her lipstick. He noticed like he always did.

She hugged him, pecked him gently on his left cheek. He noticed :-). She laughed and said "Ouch, I can see a pink smear on your cheek. Please....Abhi Ghar na Jaana..."....referring to the classic Pankaj Udhas song, that they both adored.

She laughed the childlike banter that only she could, only she would. She seemed genuinely happy to see him. They chatted for what must have been an hour. They reminisced of the good times and the worst of times.

The one time when he had tried to feed her birthday but instead smashed it (inadvertently) all over her face. She had gotten angry, she felt it was a deliberate violation, and he genuinely commiserated that he had made an error. That memory crossed his mind and he smiled. So trivial it all seemed now. He gathered courage and told her a "sorry" for that day. She laughed - a smile of affection and said, "you shouldn't be", "I only freaked because I had another party to go to....and I could not do that with an oily face". After a long pause, during which she kneaded his palms, she said, "Believe me, every birthday since then I have hoped that you shall feed me cake, you never did. You never did take that liberty again, and I shall live to regret it. Will you promise to share cake with me this upcoming birthday?". He did not answer but smiled and clasped her hand back.

As she was about to leave, she said, "I am out to Bangalore for the next 5 days. On my way back, I will come straight from the airport here.....to you", "and yes, I shall get Mysore Pak, the one from Anand,....yes I know...the less sweet one.....the one you seem to so much adore."

She pecked him again, this time on his right cheek and his forehead. He sat up, gave her a big bear hug. As he saw her re-tracing her steps out of the room, something in him felt like fading out of existence. Like a pulsar flickering in its last gasp.

He knew and he sighed.
With her back to him, as she stepped out of the door, she did not turn back to gave him a goodbye glance. If only he could see her, he would see that she was weeping. Her eyes smudged with the lampblack, her lipstick like a blur. Once outside the door, she started loudly bawling. Giant heaves of pain. She knew something too.

The universe was witness to what each of them intimately knew. The unsaid would not matter anymore.

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