Picture by Arushi Rawat
I remember thinking how painfully beautiful the sky looked, the pale blue stretching below the white of the clouds. Straddling five books under my arm, I managed to finally find an empty half of a bench. Everyone seemed to have left their office premises to find their way to the park, or around it. It was just that kind of a day, ideal for a walk, with someone.
I set my books down, and glanced over at the other side, occupied by a guy. A small laptop bag by his side, he looked as if he had either made a dash right out of his house or was looking to escape reality, eyes wide and dishevelled hair. He was furiously writing in a diary, without ever stopping to pause or breathe. I remember it was so intriguing to watch, like a melody being given life.
What are you writing about, I finally managed to gather courage after a whole sixty seconds and asked him. He looked up, gave me a confused look and broke into a small smile. He replied, About life, about rain and about how fascinating sunsets are, if that makes any sense. So you like reading Dan Brown?
Glancing at the first title on my pile of books, I put out one hand on the bunch instinctively, Yes, he is one of my favorites, among many others. Do you like to read too?
Guilty, he replied and went on scribbling in the diary, and me reading. I remember he had the deepest shade of brown in his eyes.
After a three-second pause, I hear him say, Do you think we write to escape our surroundings? To try and envision ourselves in a different ending of our lives than we are living in right now? I didn't know
what to say to him really, that yes, I write too, to escape those parts of my life I hated, to overcome the choices I'd made, to try and breathe in this enclosing space around me. I turn towards him, but even before I could say anything, he said, It's okay, don't answer. It was too random anyway. And look at the time, I should be heading back, unless I want to answer my bosses.
Yeah, me too, I have to make a run to the library and then back to office.
Unexpectedly, we started walking in the same direction, and looked at each other with a smile, half confused, half awkward, and continued walking side by side, only to burst into full-blown laughter a minute later.
You do know that it was that guileless smile of yours that made me fall for you, right? The irregular beeps of the hospital machines drew me back to reality.
I look at him and entwine my fingers with his, And for me, it was the crazy way you say such things, I smile and look away.
I know it was almost three years back, but I remember that day, when we first met, the sky, that bench in the park, when you compared me writing to melodies, and then you say I am the one who is, he said. The hospital bed made him look weak, made him look like he was not the strong, stable person come to depend on for all these months.
I knew I should never have told you that, dangling that one thing on me, I turn a shade a red.
It had been a week since his accident, the doctors said the direct impact on the brain was causing his memory to weaken. He was already starting to forget where he kept his things in the room, it was only a matter of time before he would start forgetting people, forget me.
But I also remember a promise that you made a year after that day to me, how you would never leave me alone, never break my trust and that you always be there to sit on the other side of that bench with me. I will not let you forget. I promise you that.
He gave me a wane smile, the kind when you give when only your heart believes, in its most desperate attempts to forget reality and just hope.