~ 2 ~
“Once upon a time…” she wrote, and then scratched it out. This wasn’t a fairy tale.
It’s strange that I should be named as I am. My memory is strong and though I wish to, I’m not able to forget some things. What you know about me is but the tip of the iceberg. What you don’t know could fill a book. I know not where to begin, and if I begin, I know not where it will end. But, I have to begin somewhere, so I think I’ll begin at the time something ended.
Smriti took a steadying breath, and let herself be lost in the memory again.
It had been a bittersweet day when the four years of my engineering life finally came to an end. The last exam had been written. The convocation ceremony had concluded, and I was given the degree certificate showing I had passed with distinction. I remember standing outside the department notice board with my best friend, posing for pictures with big smiles on both our faces. The best days of our lives had been spent in those halls, with each other, cheering each other and boosting each other up when the chips were down. We were twenty two years old, both placed in the same MNC, both eager to join and put the best foot forward in a career we knew we deserved.
“The talk will soon turn to you-know-what,” he told me, laughing.
“Shut up,” I had replied, faking anger. His laughter was infectious though. I couldn’t keep up the pretense for long, and had joined his laughter, giving him a friendly punch on the arm.
“Let’s not think of anything other than our first day together in training.”
Holding his hand, I had led him toward the canteen. “We won’t get a chance again to have Mani’s delicious dahi vadas. Let’s go have some now.”
As we had entered the canteen, we saw our parents there. They had been acquainted for an hour perhaps, but they were talking as if they were best friends, just like the two of us. As we sat down, Mani, the canteen cook, had hurried toward us with two plates of his famous dahi vadas.
“I miss two you naale,” he told us in broken English and Kannada mixed together. We didn’t know what to say. Even our teachers hadn’t told tthat they’ll miss us.
“And we shall miss you and your vadas, Mani,” we told him in Kannada, so he’d know what we were saying.
We could overhear our parents talking.
“Next will be her marriage, of course,” my mother was saying. “We have started to look for prospective grooms already. She is our responsibility after all. Maybe later this year, we will finalize a boy. Marriage will be in our home town. But you will come?”
I couldn’t believe it. When I turned to him, he shrugged, as if to say, “Told you so.”
How life would change so quickly.
The grandfather clock’s announcement of the time brought Smriti back to reality. She had written for an hour, and she could see the marks where she had scratched away and rewritten what she wanted to. Strangely, she felt like a burden had lifted from her shoulders. She kept the notebook under her pillow, and looked at the bedside table. Three photos were there. The first one was their marriage photo, and the second, a recent photo of her son. The third was one of her best friend.
And Smriti knew there was much left to be written tomorrow…
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 2nd August 2016)