Sunday, February 13, 2011

add some sugar...

“Here you go Mrs. Banerjee” said the airlines girl giving her the boarding pass. The lady grabbed it and then tried to stuff some papers back into her side bag. Then hastily in a rather sorry note to the person standing next, left the queue. She was still trying to cram her belongings, while silently cursing the bag when she heard someone say a “Hi” to her. Her hands suddenly stopped, as she looked up at the person who had just greeted her. ”Rohan!!” she exclaimed. A grin back and then it was all silent again for some time. “How are you, where are you and what are you doing here?” she volleyed him with her questions. “Hey!! Cool it” Rohan replied “This time you certainly did remember me”. They laughed on that and went up to a row of empty seats and started to leer. Both were still carrying the amazed look on their faces’ and were rather silent.

Rohan finally broke the ice. “So Mrs. Banerjee” he paused to add a smirk, “how are you and what have you been doing all these years?” Sneha still was a bit rapt. Actually, their story goes back long. Rohan and Sneha had stayed in the same locality in Kolkata and had always met weirdly. Rohan’s friend Pradip was honey-eyed about Sneha’s best friend Shreya. So, they had once met in the grand old romancing period of Kolkata, the durga pujas. It was those 4 days of the year when the teenagers in Kolkata not only had new and bright clothes to flaunt their looks but also had the liberty to be out on their own and try and make their unfulfilled wishes of the year come true. Most young guys in Kolkata must have had their first puff of the cigarette or a first sip of beer during one of these puja days while most girls would have discussed their crushes with their girlfriends during those long hushed up adda sessions. There was no reason for them to have remembered each other after about 10 years, when they had met again in an office in Rajarhat, New Kolkata where somehow both of them were led by fate. Rohan though did retain Sneha in his memory. They started to travel together and soon had a good camaraderie blossoming. The 10 years in between had both good and bad experiences for them. Rohan had a flunked year and a 5 year broken relationship in his pool whereas Sneha had accounted for a traumatic 3 years breakup and an unfortunate cut-off failure for her tech Masters.

Sneha was preparing for her CAT which would get her a ticket to be out of the city that haunted her in all respects. She never realized but her relationship had actually made her do things differently. She chose to be less confident and less responsible towards herself and she quite liked it. It was an easy choice for her as the guy she chose to be with, was more than perfect for her parent’s wishes. To see her parents’ content, her elation was doubled and for the same reason she felt doubly hurt when her parents too were duped. Now she wanted to join a reputed B-School and be out of the hullabaloo of an impending arranged marriage and also wanted to make herself affluent. Now she again wanted a top floor studio apartment in a high-rise just for herself with a hanging swing to laze on. Now she wanted freedom from relationships and tried to possess her own wishes, her own dreams. Life was leading her all these years maybe now she wanted to lead a life. And Rohan wanted her to dream on; he wanted her to smile on. His memories and anguish were washed away to have come across Sneha. Her belief, her resilience, her aura and authority to live life made him sit up and take notice of his past. He knew that his mistake was to allow himself face the forthcoming storm. He was aware of the danger and he chose to endure that twinge, making him more vulnerable to the one he had once committed his being. He now knew that he was never wrong and somehow now had all the time in the world to talk to himself and reconcile with his existence. And it was all because of that soul who had shared her experience and dreams with him. But he was not being very loyal to his thoughts. Having met and befriended Sneha he started longing for her presence. Knowing her was not enough for him anymore. Her plans which would take her away from him started to bother him for no good of his. He suddenly started to posses a dual personality of a comical and chirpy guy when with others and a rather mute and absorbed one when with Sneha. This did bother her and she tried to comfort him in all possible way but he just wasn’t receptive to it. They still were good friends and the weirdness in his behavior though had somewhat implications to their confrontations, they both hung in. Then came January, after 10 months of attachment it was S. P. Jain Institute of Management Studies next for Sneha for a PGDBM. She was very happy to have secured a berth there. Her strenuous efforts had paid a rich dividend and life for her was about to change soon. Rohan too was very happy not only for her but for himself as well, for in her dreams and their fulfillment he realized the moral fiber and vitality to pull himself through. Looking for the rainbow in every coming storm he let her fly like an angel heaven had sent to him.

Sneha completed her MBA in 2yrs time and joined a reputed financial organization. While in SPJ she had met and befriended Nikhil Bannerjee. They were good friends in college and man and wife after it. Rohan in the meanwhile stayed back in Kolkata working for the same company and harboring his plans to launch his web product. Both knew that they couldn’t keep in touch with the distance so they didn’t even try much. They were friends because they met every day. They were friends because they were with each other 12 hrs every day. They were friends because they didn’t want to trade the time that they shared together for anything; they were friends because they both had allowed themselves to be important to each other for no reason whatsoever. And once they were parted their friendship was like the small chapter of a novel read with a lot of interest and forgotten soon after. Though Sneha always spoke of no one being indispensable in life she too knew that she wouldn’t have met another Rohan again. For Rohan, Sneha always remained indispensable. Today after 10 years from then Sneha and Rohan met again at the Kolkata domestic airport where Rohan was flying to Boston via Delhi for a meet to co-brand his web-product and Sneha was flying back to Delhi after paying her parents a visit. “Can we have some coffee?” he asked. “Yes sure. There’s time for the flight”. While in the cafĂ© they discussed about their families and work. Sneha had just left her job and was giving herself a break to attend to her 6 yr old daughter. She had worked her way up the ladder with her efficiency and hard slog all these years. Rohan was very pleased and fulfilled to know about her. Sneha suddenly asked “Did you not marry?”; “No” he said and grinned back. “Why?” she promptly added. Rohan was suddenly reminded of the days when these firm “Why”s of Snehas’ would really put him in a spot of bother. He never was equipped enough to answer them and yet he kept bugging her to the point where she would have to ask “Why”. “Didn’t get the time to get married” he replied. “What rubbish!” she was dissatisfied with his answer. “Well, don’t worry, Ill marry soon, there still is time” he smiled back. She brought her wrinkling brows together and nodded her head forcibly trying to encourage his poor joke. They kept on chatting about their lives’ and finally as they rose to walk towards the terminal Sneha suddenly beamed back at him and said “Do I pull out my purse or do you still have a habit of winning over the waiters and cabbies?” They both had a good laugh over it and headed towards their plane.

It was winter in Kolkata, but the attire that the city people took to would definitely have put any native Scandinavian to shame. But both Sneha and Rohan were never troubled much by the cold except when it was time to get out of the bed in the morning, the usual thing with sluggish bongs. Once in the plane Rohan managed to convince the person sitting next to Sneha’s seat to exchange with his. As they plane took off Sneha had her fingers plugged into her ears and eyelids tightly shut in an unsuccessful attempt to brush off the noise. Rohan smirked to himself as he was again reminded of a rather annoyed Sneha who used to curse the flashes of lightning which used to bring with itself the bothering thunder sounds.

They started to talk again and as always Sneha was the one who kept on blabbing with an occasional complain of Rohan being rather absurdly quiet. Little did she know that it was these moments of boisterous peace that gave him the spirit of life some 10 years ago. He was bathing in the same essence of subsistence that got in him the belief to survive after the battering of emotions. He never had a stronger need or desire in his life than to have been with her and see her speak, smile, walk and even keep silent at times. The flight was over and the same old fear and anguish of losing her gripped him all over again. Sneha could sense that same old Rohan whom she couldn’t have helped 10 years ago, come back to life. She felt guilty and for a moment thought that they shouldn’t have met this day. Refurbishing memories and reliving some moments it was so strange for her. 10 years ago maybe it was her memories and thoughts for a certain someone that withheld her from taking that extra step towards Rohan and relieving him of an apprehension. And today it’s the memories and moments shared with Rohan which were never more than instantaneous delight and inconsequential future that was asking her a question, the same question she had quizzed Rohan with, so many times before, “Why?” This time though there was a difference. Every time before she had known answers to her ever-enquiring questions but now she was clueless and seemed blank up there. Soon, they were emplaced to say goodbye once again. “So” started Rohan, “You I guess will have to go this way” he said pointing towards the exit. “And I’ll go this way towards the international terminal.” “Yes” said Sneha and wished him luck for his meeting. He too wished her the best with her family and life. “Dream on to do in pursuit of your dream” he said as they walked their different ways after silently bidding farewell with a smile. They didn’t care to exchange numbers or email ids for they knew it was the non existence of distance that had made them bond and it was the same distance that gave them the assurance of well being of one another and made them lose touch.

They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, a day to appreciate them, a month to like them; but then an entire life to forget them. But, sometimes god is unkind to start this process all over again. The dunes are changed by the wind but the desert never changes and that’s the way it will be for these friends. As Rohan walked away quietly he whispered to himself “If I am a part of your dream any night, you'll again come back one day to give me one more moment.” Smiling back to himself he again whispered, “Oh! But you don’t remember dreams.”