It’s a busy day here at CP like always and I am not ashamed or hesitant to admit that crossing the road during the peak hours of Delhi traffic has always scared me to my pit. It always takes a lot of courage to do that. anyway i reached the other side of the road and started scanning the books on the book stalls on the pavement. I ventured ahead to peer among the rows of books. My eyes went left to right in the top row and then left it mid-way and then came to the bottom most rows and started hunting for the books of my choice in a nearly random fashion. I have never been a very patient person by nature. So, I hurried to the shop keeper and asked if he could help me in finding the books. He nodded and turned around quickly and within a couple of seconds I saw him waving both the books at my face as if teasing me for my impatient monkey- mind. I collected the book and paid him quickly and started walking again, leaving him with a light headed smile. I had known this boy at the shop for more than a month now, thanks to my weekly visits. When I went to his shop for the first time he had assumed that I was looking for some easy- read, sort of peppy novel on adolescent love stories and had pointed his finger towards that column. Only after few minutes when he saw my disappointed face searching frantically among the piles of books lying there he took pity on me.
I slipped both the books in my side bag and started crossing the road on my left. I had to visit the office on the opposite side of the road. While I was crossing again, I heard a familiar voice reaching me from quite a distance. The words had caught my attention more than the voice. I missed the first part though but it ended with an exclamation- “dying in your love, while I strived to live…lying here amidst the torrent, now waiting to die today.”
It would not be prudent to turn back and try to listen more carefully, while crossing the road, but at the same time I did not want to lose the voice. Once I had crossed the road I turned back immediately, but could not find a corresponding face… a face, I could ascribe to the voice. It must have been one of my hallucinations or just a fanciful thought. But, I felt a little restlessness to hear the same voice again. For the last time I looked around to find the source of that voice and then suddenly I found myself smiling at the thought that even if I had heard it right, and it was for real, what else would it fetch me except satisfying my curiosity. I moved ahead thinking that I must have mistaken it for someone else’s voice for after all it had been more than half a decade when I had heard it last time.
But, human mind has been the most complicated machinery till date. While it easily forgets the lessons learnt yesterday it tends to recall the minutest details from the long lost yesterdays of life on slight provocations. And before I could realize I was already transported from the inner circle of CP to the inner memories of bygone years only to be disturbed again by someone’s “Hey!” And once again I began thinking about Louis Althusser’s concept of Interpellation where an individual becomes a subject even before it is born. It was an intriguing idea but when I had read it for the first time, I had found it funny because of the example that the famous Marxist thinker had quoted to explain it. I found my lips stretched, smiling at these memories as I walked across the lane with my head bent, watching my slippers and my steps when suddenly something fell in front of me like an inanimate lump pulled heavily by the earth. It was only after a fraction of seconds that I could gather myself and my brain came out of that preliminary shock when I figured out that it was a person squatting who was smiling at me presently. I closed my eyes and opened it again to ensure that I wasn’t just day dreaming.
He was there, sitting right in front of me and grinning at me…it was Raag. It should be he, who must have appeared stupid, sitting at the middle of a pavement but to my eyes it appeared that the way I was staring at him, it was more stupid. And before I could think more, I realized that my smile had already been dead, falling short to initiate the exchanging of pleasantries. Raag got up and moved towards me, took my hand and shook it warmly. I forced a smile which again went dead as if it was afflicted by a severe drought. I would have made a public display of my nervousness had I not resisted my silence and raise my voice and my eye-brow and pushed myself in a questioning mode. But before speech could sprout I was brutally interrupted by his lines, “dying in your love, while I strived to live…lying here amidst the torrent, now waiting to die today.” And before I could realize, words spilled out and I found myself cracking my customary joke after listening to his compositions, “will I have to take the pain to Google it?”
He just smiled and asked, “Would you like to sit somewhere, my princess?” While I was still repenting on that unguarded question that had unwittingly crossed my lips, I was struck by his way of addressing me as “my princess.” for those who don’t know let me tell you that Raag generally used to address me thus when he was in an uncommonly happy mood. back then, it felt so nice to be called thus, but now it was a brutal reminder of a scarred past.
But here, once again I lost no time and pat came my reply, “I guess we have grown out of those days Raag…those days when we parleyed fiercely because of our immature behavior…those days must not be revisited again.”
“Hey, wait girl! I came to see you. I came for all those dreams unfulfilled but promised, all those thoughts woven but left unfinished…
“Oh! So in that case boy, I guess it’s once again, another of those futile efforts of yours. We have had all that we could afford to and I guess I am done with you.”
“Hey look first of all I am no more just an immature boy but a responsible man indeed. You can trust me”
Really? And how do I measure that gentle- man?”
“Look, you just called me a gentle-man, which means that you are already convinced that I am one.”
Oh shit, I had lost the argument in trying to act a little smart. But I had to save my ground so I spoke again. “Listen dear, I think you should do away with these unnecessary efforts to act smart in front of me, I have known you too well to understand your gimmicks…” but before i could complete he sprang into action. He said mimicking me,
“…and you don’t need an extended life to understand me for you have seen me in utter nakedness… though you need to admit that your claim was only metaphorical Jay…ha ha ha… now will you say that my laughter is still devilish… Your pet dialogues, my lady.”
“Yes my pet dialogues, you still care to remember them, that is the impact, its beauty- still unblemished and undistorted- you never dared to fiddle with them.” I tried to behave as strongly as I could.
“Didn’t really get you my queen.”
I had just said something which did sound beautiful but the listener could not understand. It appeared as if I had just made a fool out of myself. He said again,
“The lesser I understand you, the more pleasant it sounds. The moment I am able to decipher, it is reduced to cacophony unbound. “
“HUH!! The lesser I knew you, the better I thought I had known. As the truth was unveiled, I begged for some more time to mourn the loss and moan.”
“Jane de na yar, chal hata. Ye bata how are you?”(let it go buddy! tell me how are you?)
“Not dying anytime soon. How about you?”
He quipped wittily, “Intelligent stroke you sadist!”
and then he started again in his customary way of expressing in verses. This was an old game that we played when the grass was greener. now it had reduced to a battle in words more or less. he said,
“Tune abhi mera asli nasha chakha kahan hai?
Mere dard ki gehraiyon ko abhi saha kahan hai?
Pathar bhi tutkar duhai mangenge mere khayalon ki
…abhi mujhse judke bhi tu juda kahan hai”
(you haven’t tasted my essence till now,
you haven’t felt the depth of my pain
even the stones will break and cry for my desires
…though you are connected but you haven’t attached yourself to me yet.)
That was just so true of us. We claimed to have known each other, but the way we drifted apart we abused our own relation. there was will to understand but no time to stand and resolve. Neverthless, I did what I was supposed to do now. I said,
“Circumscribed by my prejudices,
I wished, it (our love) may not wither and die.
I wanted it to breathe and survive,
To live and grow with time,
How crazy that thought itself was,
stupid and childish…
But since you smothered my genial spirit
Mired in celebration.
it’s learning to be happy again,
in an unfamiliar dimension.”
“Please be mine!” Raag begged.
But, I was resolute. “The ownership, I beg to state is non-transferable.” I retorted. I myself was a little surprised at my verbosity and such stark exhibition of cruelty and presence of mind. but then I knew it was necessary. We had tried to resolve our differences but had failed utterly. We always started to reach the same place again where we ended up hurting ourselves so that we don’t hurt each other.
“It’s the bloody third time” he retaliated.
“And I would not like to wish you a better luck next time.”
“You know what an egoist you are Jay. It’s just a yes, damn it! Have you never learnt to say yes?”
“Dare you not shout at me Raag. The equations have still not changed dear.”
“O god! What’s wrong with you, my love?”
“Dying for your love, while I strived to live…lying here amidst the torrent, now waiting to die finally. But unfortunately your turn comes first. Inform me before you die. Good bye!”
And I left as I said this repeating to myself in a hushed tone something that I always cared to add at the end of such arguments but kept it aside for myself this time- my love was not petty though, but I never loved you enough I know.
I remember, once Raag had said that relationships when broken are sometimes like broken glass. it’s better to leave them like that then to try to join them again and hurt yourself. It was strange how two people who knew nothing but love were bound to be strangers again.