I was sitting, thinking, didn’t know what to tell her. No clear thoughts, to put it other way, I would try to create an environment inside my head where I could be and sort it out as craftily as possible. But the random memories provided a great deal of hindrance. Memories; some sweet, some sour, some good, some bad. They are all over in our heads. Living without them is impossible and living with them, damn, a hell of a pain in ass.
The place was regular, we often met there. There was nothing special about it, of course, the prices on its menu weren’t so heavy and its remote location meant less people, less crowd and less noise. There was a couple just in front of me, eating their food and chatting. I wonder, when people talk, they talk of different things, may be books, music, politics or any individuals they know about. But they themselves seldom come in their own talks, as if they don’t want to get into themselves, they are afraid or may be they know themselves very little than they do others. I wasn’t particularly concerned what the two were talking about, but they made me feel guilty, perhaps a little sad too, trying to shake me, drift me from the course I was going to take. But I was deep rooted, totally focused on the task I had to perform.
I called a waiter and signalled him for a cigarette. She loathed this habit of mine. Last time she saw me smoking, she didn’t receive my calls for three days. If she caught me again, it wouldn’t mean a thing; it was a matter of minutes for everything to come to an end. People were hooting outside, the beating of the drums and the sound from the cymbals were coming in regular intervals. Again, it was some Jatra. I never understood the purpose or the meaning that laid buried deep in each one of them. The masked men dancing in a very eccentric way, and their masks resembling the demons often depicted in the ancient literatures. Sometimes, I would fancy the ideas, what these dancing demons really mean? Our ego? – The ugly, dark and heinous part of ours which always makes us feel that we are the centre, the centre of everything. And what about the thing, the divine thing residing on the chariot, worshipped by all and being pulled amid the masked dancers. Once again I was carried away by the thoughts being unable to concentrate on the thing that I was meant to. I pushed the cigarette, half burnt, against the ceramic ash-tray until it ran out of smoke.
It was almost twenty minutes that I was waiting for her to arrive. I hadn’t expected that she would agree to meet so easily, not after the bitter moments we shared in our last meeting. Relationship, we strive for it so desperately and what we do later, we let it go. It has always been difficult to begin but more difficult to keep it going. Past few months there had been some kind of uneasiness between us. When or how did it start, I hadn’t any record of it but it had been growing rapidly, moving towards the edge, towards its tipping point. There was no question of staying inside a sinking ship. I had to move out of it, and as quickly as I could. But the difficult part was to put it to her. It was odd, really odd. From the day we started seeing each other, I never had thought there would come a day when I would be thinking how to do it. It was definitely going to hurt her. And in the first place she wouldn’t have expected it to come. But it didn’t matter. The only way was to call it off, to draw a line, to end it all.
The wait was over, she was there moving towards me but a tension began to build up. She looked beautiful, more lovely, or had she turned to the last piece of a cake which is always tasty. I gathered all my previous thoughts, trying to give them a firm shape, so that I would sound clear and definite. A momentary smile that was all we shared and it was shortly followed by a long silence, for a while we were speechless. She then looked at me and put her warm hand on top of mine, her eyes filled with tears. Probably I should rethink the whole idea, give ourselves some more time; a feeling rolled inside me. “I am sorry.” She said. It was not her fault, I thought. But she said again, “I am sorry Bivek, I am really sorry. I should have told you before, I am seeing somebody. We work together…” Her voice wasn’t reaching my ears, all I could hear was the drums, the cymbals and the loud dins. Then they began to appear, the demons, the masked demons. I passed through them and made my way towards the chariot. I approached near and peeked inside. Suddenly I realized I was no more in the centre, I never was. It was just my delusions and they were fading away, disappearing.
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