~ 3 ~
The grandfather clock had just struck ten when Smriti sat down to write. Outside, the stars shone in the night sky, not a cloud in sight. And yet, she remembered the clouds well.
“When something is absent, we remember it more vividly than when it was present,” she wondered. And the thought triggered yet another. Taking the book out from under the pillow, she began to write.
Strange, how the absence of a person can bring back those memories where the person is omnipresent. And contrary to what many say, these memories do not rush in and rush out either. I know. I’ve felt them closely. The person I never hoped to miss was the one that I ended up missing in my life.
The training period didn’t go as expected. The MNC kept most of the girls it had recruited in Bangalore itself, while the guys had been sent to the training facility in Kolkata. Yet, we didn’t drift apart. We’d Skype often, talk to each other almost every night, wonder if they’d place us in the same city at least after training. We continued to be inseparable.
The big blow to the friendship came soon after, and though I pretended that it was unexpected, it was not. After all, he had told that months back. My parents, true to their word, found a match for me by the end of the year. They showed me a picture of the guy, who worked in the same MNC as well, but at Kolkata. By that time, though, the alliance had been fixed between my parents and his. Five days after I saw the photo, I was engaged. It was a small ceremony at a nearby hotel, with only his close family and my parents and younger sister attending the function. Ten days after that, I was married. Twenty two years old, a fragile girl not yet sure of this life and afraid to stumble, and yet, there I was beginning a new journey.
The only silver lining I saw to the new life was that I’d be in Kolkata. My husband’s recommendation had been enough for the MNC to appoint me to the Kolkata branch. I’d be able to see my best friend again. His guide there had been happy with his performance, and had appointed him to the branch a few days before me. And we picked up where we left off. He was my joy in the City of Joy, my strength in the fragile lives we seemed to lead. My husband had his long working hours and meetings, and didn’t really bother to help me find my feet.
And then, it ended. As abruptly as that sentence, he was gone. A weekend biking trip, a screech of wheels, a lot of lost blood… that was all I remembered his hostel roommate and our colleague telling me over the phone. I didn’t need to hear more. I knew then as I know now, that I couldn’t have taken that blow well. I remember the tears flowing freely on to the silk saree I had been wearing on the day I took that call. And I remember the terseness with which I was told to stop.
When she put the pen down, Smriti realized that she was shivering. Looking down at the notebook, she saw that the handwriting was barely legible toward the end, and a couple of teardrops had wet the ink as well. It had been many years after, but that phone call still echoed in her ears. She couldn’t forget him, for she had a constant reminder of him in her life.
The day she had had a baby boy, she wanted only one name for him… Ninad.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason, 3rd August 2016)