Life in metropolitan like Delhi comes at its own price. The biggest and most irritating of them being congestion and pollution. Now I love rain but the problem with rain is that it amplifies both this issues hundred fold. It clogs all the sewage in our little locality. The stings of diesel fumes, the stench of rot, garbage and feces amplifies when it rains. I’m not going to blame monsoon for that. Why should I blame rain for basic human inability to stay clean? Sewage water roams free on our streets. It smells like rotten eggs and maybe like death. That’s an interesting thought, would death really smell like sewage? I guess, that’s the closest idiom for death I can come with. Death smells like sewage.
It just irritates me. Maybe it irritates other too. I know I’m a journalist. I hope I could tell you what the youth of India wants, hell, I really do but I’ll be damned if I suggest even one single thing right now. I don’t even know what I want from my life, I don’t know any magical formula that will help me figure out the meaning of life. I struggle just like everyone else to live in this eternal lie, searching for the meaning of existence.
Labels. You will find them everywhere and apparently for everything. Color. Belief. Ideals. Do I really want to say anything about labels? I really want to, but even I’m not sure if I’m ready to see the skewed concept of right and wrong I subconsciously harbour. Wouldn’t it be simple if everything was indeed in black and white? Why did it had to be in million shades of gray?
It was three thirty when I decided to postpone my remaining visits and just go home. Once again I was at the mercy of my beloved metro.
My silent friend, did I tell you Sandhya likes to write poetry? Poetry, few convoluted words, few words that speak a lot. Sandhya had mastered the art, atleast by my standards she had. This is the first one she ever read to me, it went something like this,
“So many times, we wait,
So many memories we relive.
And so we wait.
And just like that we are wasted,
Just like tears in rain.”
Did I really loved Sandhya?
Radhika and me, we never discussed what would happen if we broke up, the only thing we ever discussed on that direction was which one of us will die first and what would the living one will do. How old we would be?
All I knew is that with Sandhya, it always hurt. With Radhika it was always pleasant. With Sandhya it was complicated, confusing, and it never seemed to make any sense. With Radhika, it was always simple and it was just that. A simple love. With Sandhya I always tried too much, With Radhika, I was always me. Isn’t that the definition of soulmate? The one with whom we align perfectly, the person with whom everything makes sense. I don’t know anymore, you tell me which one was love.
Throughout the day, I was too involved in my head to even notice the vibrations of my phone. When I checked my phone, there was already a text message from Sandhya, “You have one new message. 53 minutes ago.” I had honestly never felt more panicked in my life, Sandhya never texted. That was just not in her nature. She preferred to talk. She had just too many cluttered thoughts. Texting just seemed like a burden to her. I guess this text was inevitable. How long could I’ve managed to ignore her feelings?
It read, “You’re disgusted by me too, aren’t you? You’re judging me just like all of them.”
Would I really judge Sandhya, what right I had over her life to judge her choices, her beliefs, and her scars? Least judgemental. I never understood how Radhika did that.
I just didn’t had the guts to send a reply to that. I don’t know why.
“I never should have told you anything, atleast you wouldn’t have been disgusted by me. Atleast you’ll still be my friend.”
And just like that, I was reliving the morning Sandhya cried in my arms.
It’s like a ritual to me. A coffee at eleven. I was just going for a cup of coffee when I noticed Sandhya sitting on the stairs, alone, staring through the window. I just looked at her sitting by the window, all alone on a staircase with walls painted an earthy shade of white. I possibly couldn’t understand what she liked about sitting there. The view wasn’t very aesthetic either – some trees, few were green, few in different stage of abscission. An old abandoned building whose walls had blackened from the smog from all those times when something burned in that lot.
“So are you gonna jump?” I said, trying in vain to soothe the internal drama she was most likely fighting.
“What, who’s there?” She spoke, suddenly broken out of her trance.
“Coffee?” she asked, how I would like to believe Sandhya didn’t knew me. But if I believe that, I will be horribly wrong. She had me figured out, line to line, page to page of an over read book.
“Yeah, you wanna come?” A coffee. Lot of shit happens over a cup of coffee. We strolled through the stairs, each one of us lost in our thoughts, our own turmoil, I guess. You know that feeling when you’ve been sad for so long that when something bad happens you don’t cry you just sit there and feel numb. I always felt Sandhya’s mind worked like that. I was to be proven correct in next twenty minutes. Only if I had known that for sure.
Once we were in the café sipping our coffee in long slow sips was that Sandhya spoke.
”Ripples, everything that we do creates a ripple in time line.”
“What?” I asked.
“I said, every action, every word, every breath, it all creates a ripple in time line,” Sandhya said, speaking in lower pitch than her usual self.
“You talk some weird stuff sometimes, do you know that?”
“Yeah, I do. But you listen to it nonetheless, I guess that’s why I don’t feel scared, talking weird shit around you,” Sandhya replied, giving extra emphasis on the words, “Weird shit.”
“Why are you blushing?”
“I don’t blush.” She said. Her eyes full of questions and surprise.
“You’re a girl Sandhya, you just need proper compliments and you’ll blush a shade of red darker than roses.” I said, in a calm humorous voice.
“Just shut up.” She said, this time clearly blushing.
“See, you’re smiling.”
“And why is it so important for you to make me smile?”
“I don’t know, I guess, I just like bringing a smile to the face of the people I really care about.” I know. Judge me all you want. I’m judging myself too. I continued, “You Know, it’s not like it is the end of the world, there are…” I really don’t know why I said that. Maybe I just wanted to know the reason for her emotional blackout, hmm, that sounds like a nice word, emotional blackout.
“You know what, let me stop you right there, because you don’t know what it’s like.”
“Then make me understand.” I said, well, shouted almost.
“Sometimes I simply wish my eyes were bleeding, atleast I would be in enough pain to ignore everything. Slowly, I die a little every day, Atul.”
“Would you like to have something else? Coffee? Tea? Water? Or maybe some common sense?” I asked with a grin as wide as you can possibly imagine. “What is this whole fascination of yours with death? Huh?”
“I guess, I’m a little bit broken, huh.”
“We all are broken, Sandhya. The only real question is how broken we actually are.”
We stayed silent for a while after that. Maybe the realization was too much for both of us. We all have that basic human instincts, fear, doubting ourselves, it’s our inner struggle to fight and overcome those basic flaws and be the person we want to be, we choose to be. I guess, we both were fighting ourselves in that moment. Whenever it concerned Sandhya, I had been lost in my life more times than I can count. Blurring lines of right and wrong.
“Tell me your story?” I asked, sipping my coffee, an abrupt question out of nowhere.
“What?” she said, her face suddenly full of sparkle at my curiosity about her life.
“I don’t have an interesting one, I think.”
“Everyone has a story my friend, we just need the ears to appreciate it.”
“You don’t want to listen to it Atul, it’s an ugly one.”
“Pretty sure, you just said you don’t have one.”
“Rusted words. I like the sound of that. It gives a very archaic feeling,” I said.
“I never did anything that was expected of me and I’m so fucking happy because of that. I mean, honestly, I cannot stress that enough. But my story is an ugly one.” She said, inhaling a deep long breath.
“We all are ugly my friend. And we all have an ugly story.”