Sunday, May 31, 2015

2198 : Missing

As I waited at the Grand Central, I was reminded of the conversation 12 years ago - I remembered me telling her that we shall be slaves to each other, for ever. She had laughed and said yes, she would very much want that too.

On that day, many moons ago, we had both undertaken a train journey together. Somewhere along the journey she had been tired and she had dozed off, letting her entire body weight rest on mine. The reflex in her had woken her up multiple times, as she had struggled with the idea of sleeping off on a still-a-stranger's body.

I had enveloped her in my arms and let her rest...let her feel warm and protected, but clearly while it was working some magic, it was definitely not enough to scare her demons away.

Today, we were meeting after almost 4 years. The idea was to undertake a journey to Boston via Penn station. The initial meeting point was agreed to be Grand Central.

As I waited for her, I could still feel the mushiness that she inspired in me. I loved her company, I had simply loved to speak to her. The honesty we had shared had been disarming. I have to admit, this all sounds very strange to me today, when I speak of it today in the past tense.

It bothered me that, we both had seen something magical and yet we had allowed that simple greatness to pass us by. We were both afraid to live our own lives, afraid of what the world might judge us by, afraid of disappointing each other so completely, that we almost were afraid to be together. We were afraid of many things, and our own fears had defeated our goodness.

And yet, today there was hope. It was she who had suggested the Boston journey. She had business to do there, and she was wondering if I could give her 2 days of my life. I had jokingly replied, I would give her 2 days, if she was willing to kill me at the end of it....and she had said, she would ponder on that idea. If she felt she still loved me enough at the end of the trip, then she might pull a seppuku on me - she had said in a shrill voice. The bloody vixen in her was still alive.

A few cold moments later, I walked into the terminal and decided to grab a quick coffee. I needed the coffee to warm my blood, and clam my nerves. I hurriedly stood in the line at Joe's for the warm black liquid, I was also nervous that we should not miss each other. We had phones, but still I did not want to make her wait. 4 years is a long time to keep a dear friend waiting.

Coffee taken, I rushed out onto Lex to the entrance again. The coffee did it initial magic. Never before had a sip of coffee felt better and more soothing. My rational brain was telling to take it slow, this was not a lover, just a dear friend...and this was just a 2 day trip to Boston, not parasailing the world in 6 months.

I finally saw her walking towards me. She walked briskly....I instinctively parked the coffee on a ledge and by then she was onto me. She gave me a hug, the kind that inspires a million lifetimes....and in the midst of that bear hug, I let out a wasp and said, "still bad hair ha?"...and she immediately pinched me on the back.

Like two lost souls in a fish bowl - floyd style - we both took each others hands - I picked up my coffee again, and we started off towards Penn. As we sat in the cab, she flashed two tickets and said - "ta ta ta...ready to go?". I nodded and smiled. She put it in my jacket pocket and said "you will take care of this better. Like always, I will lose this.".

We spoke and we fought over the little nothings, as if we had just met yesterday. We did not let the 4 years show to either of us. We were connected and we did not want that bloody chimera to crack.

In the next 10 minutes, we had already laughed a hundred deaths away....and the journey was just starting.

Once onto the Amtrak, we comfortably settled in. I was happy, far too happy to admit.....far too happy to not recognize it too. This is how life should have been, I was telling myself incessantly. As I was thinking, my eyes were dozing off, and I could feel her palms snake into mine, and give a warm tug of clasp.

I smiled and laughing said, "still do that kya?". In response I got one good nudge on my knee and it elicited a bloody "owh" from me....

I must have slept off. I remember that a few hours later, I was being woken up by an usher, who was checking the tickets. I fumbled into my jacket pockets and came up with the slip. As I was doing that I noticed, the seat next to me was empty. She was not there, neither were her bags. My bag lay under the seat. As I handed over the ticket to the usher, I muttered,"Ticket for two, wonder where my friend is...she was sitting next to me".

"Sir, this ticket is from 12 years ago. It is for two, that I can see. But this is not a valid ticket anymore. Are you sure you dont have a ticket for today?".

I apologized and explained my complete surprise at this anachronistic turn of events. The usher did not care much, but seemed very worried about my mental state. We both got down at Boston, where I paid a fine and she then gingerly asked me if I needed help. When I refused she let me go.

I went to the nearest coffee shop and sat down to drink some more of the brown poison. Was I really going mad ? As I started sipping my coffee, a strand of hair seemed to have gotten stuck on my lips. As I pulled it out, it was a thin long wiry strand of bad hair...and there was only one place it could have come from.

I wistfully smiled. This is what missing probably felt like.



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