“Nilima! You forgot your fruit bag!” screamed my local storekeeper Mr. Chand. I had just left the local mart after my customary shopping of groceries and other supplies. This weekly errand at Chand uncle’s shop was not a painstaking task but rather delightful. Shopping in a mall had become a luxury, so even these short trips to my local store satisfied me. The high pressure work and erratic hours at my ad agency gave me little time to splurge on myself. Shopping at the this mart, which displayed new saleable items every time, for the toiletries, kitchenware, food items and other home articles was a gratifying experience. I extended my hand to take the bag of fruits, smiled and thanked Chand Uncle. Over the years in this new city, there were few people I trusted in my life. Uncle Chand was one of them. His homely smile, humble personality and his warmth reminded me of my late great-grandfather. The hustle-bustle of Bombay (I prefer to call Bombay than Mumbai since the former name symbolizes the true spirit of the city!) had engulfed me for quite some time now… six years, four months and 5 days to be precise…and I still label it as my new city.
This was the place I realised my dream, met the man of my dreams and have a lovely daughter.
Not sooner than I left the store, I bumped into a man. I almost tripped, and was surprised seeing the familiarity of the brown eyes, caramel skin, and the ‘Sorry’! It took me three second to register who I just encountered. I maundered “Varun?”! Varun! Varun Kapoor was my friend in college. Well, more than a friend. Let me assure you it’s not exactly what one would think. In college, I was an enthusiastic girl with a zest that would raise the energy level of the other person. I was garrulous but my chirpiness did not offend people. I was diligent who wanted to carve out a successful professional life for myself. Even though I was congenial, had a Facebook page of over a thousand friends, I had never been in a relationship, and neither did I intend to. Don’t be judgemental but I was this simple girl who dreamt about the perfect guy. I was conventional this way! Most of my close friends had proposed to me (Guy friends, o’course!) and yet somehow that connection, that chemistry wasn’t ever there. With Varun, things were a little different. It was my final year of graduation and I entered my class a minute late than the usual but the seats were occupied till the last row. I followed my gaze to a place at the corner end of the class where I could find an empty seat. That was the day I first met Varun. We had attended so many classes before but I never before knew about his existence. It was one of those dull lectures that made even the most attentive sleepy. He was busy playing tic-tac with his friend, while I was busy jotting down points in a frantic manner even though I soon began losing interest. It was a bit awkward and strange when I think of it now that I was feeling very shy sitting next to him as if I were a little girl sitting next to her crush. I sprung two words out of nowhere, “Mind-numbing” which surprised Varun.
In the remaining class, we hardly spoke but later found ourselves chatting on Facebook. We discussed about how strange it was that most people brand their photo albums on Facebook as “Random”, about diverse emoticons, movies and music. All this wasn’t out of the blue for me but astonishing was his calls from the day we befriended each other on the popular social networking site. He managed to get my number from one of our mutual friends and he regularly started calling me, for long durations at odd hours. A question frequently haunted me. Why was he calling me every day? Even direct confrontation regarding the matter gave me no proper response. Gradually, the frequency of phone calls increased, the daily dose of SMSes reached a new pinnacle. We became fond of each other, it wasn’t like love but it was also not like “just friends”. I knew the feeling of Love somehow, I had always imagined it to be a certain way and this seemed similar with regards to the level of communication but something felt amiss. It was trust. I felt I trusted him but was always hesitant with the very personal matters of my life which I always believed I would share with someone I loved. It was as if I was justifying my lack of trust in him by equating it to being paranoid about my career and formulating methods of distancing him from me. The little time we spent together was special; enjoying little things in life until one day, everything was ruined. A few “truths” about him came to the forefront which earlier he had distorted. I felt betrayed, agonised and shattered. The thought that I judged someone so grossly made me sick in the stomach. The relation went downhill from there. I tried clarifying the issues, requesting him to be forthcoming with whatever was the truth, but it somehow didn’t work. I severed all ties with him. He tried calling me up and SMSing, but by then I was far too hurt. I tried to forget that episode, concentrate on my university exams and my professional life ahead. Ignoring him was one of the hardest things I had to do.
I came to Bombay; I achieved all that I had dreamt of. Unexpectedly today, I bumped into a man who I have missed so many times in the past but never spoken to after that dreadful day. I felt a pang of hollowness. He recognised me in an instant, smiled and hugged me in that spur of the moment. He blabbered something about his life after graduation, how thrilled he was to meet me and our destined collision thousand miles from our native land. I was so dumbstruck that five minutes seemed longer. He bid me goodbye after scribbling the venue of a cafe on his card with date and time written on it. I stood there for a minute watching his silhouette disappear. Later that night, I was particularly very quiet. The entire episode made me reminisce about the past, our past. I was in a quandary about the rendezvous. I decided I would go to rest my inquisitiveness with answers regarding his reasons of being in Bombay and about his family. I was feeling like a nervous wreck while dressing up. I dressed rather well for the occasion without completely comprehending why I was so excited. The cafe was a cosy, dainty place known by a handful but served great steamy coffee. As I was about to cross the road, I saw him in a distance waving frantically at me. He headed towards me, gaining speed…and Bang! All of a sudden, he was flying up the air. He was hit by a bus. I felt I was in a tizzy, I ran towards him, found him in a pool of blood. His face all scarlet, his hands bruised and his legs disfigured. It was an unpleasant sight for anyone, let alone someone close. I shrieked at the sight.
“Nilima, are you okay?” “Did you see a nightmare, baby?” called my husband sleeping next to me. I woke up startled; looked around, realised it was just a dream! An appalling one!