It was our last day of the seminar and I had to arrange all my papers before final submission. My heart was heavy. These days were dreamlike with Akash. Again I would leave him and again I would learn to live without him. This thought of separation was heart-wrenching. A tall shadow peeped beside me. I turned and found him. My heart lighted in sad pleasure. He was staring at me. I wished to hug him and cry again.
“Aatri can you manage to leave early?”
“Yeah. I’ve already sorted out my work. I’ll submit them and be free.”
“But why are you asking? Any plan?”
“Not so special. We can enjoy a long stroll then. I want to spend some time with you before we leave.”
“How many times have we been left each other?”
“Perhaps for life. It would not matter. Life is not all settled and easy. So just furnish the present, don’t bother for the next”
“Yeah, how smart and easy to say so.”
“I’ll wait near the main gate.”
After two hours I came out. I met Soma and promised to join my group in the hotel. Soma just grinned.
It was a plan for a long stroll but he was there with his bike. I did not say anything. Somehow I wanted to be with him and that’s enough.
But what we needed was a helmet for me. The traffic was very strict and there was a chance of getting into a problem. So at first, we had to search for two wheeler shop, selling helmets. Eventually, we got one. But Akash behaved oddly over the custody of the helmet after it would serve its purpose. He knew I could not carry a helmet on my long journey. And he was tensed if someone found a street helmet in his wardrobe. I felt hurt and shocked a bit at his grievance. A small helmet was a big concern for him over my presence. But I was not in the mood to get into a brawl with him at this departing hour. So I said nothing. But the thorn was there to prick me. Might be I was ready for more thorns till it bleed so hard and there remained nothing to bleed anymore.
We rode for two hours. I asked Akash nothing about where he was taking me. I cringed his shoulders, leaning my head on him. We reached a place at the fringe of the city, a countrified surrounding, so calm and peaceful. Akash parked near an old temple.
“Akash, where is it?”
He just took my hand and stepped into an old sordid place surrounded by creepers, and trees. We found a pond and sat on the broken steps. The place had some mysticism that made my heart calm.
“I used to come here sometimes. I liked the serenity of the place. There are also many antic sculptures, inside the temple. We will visit later if we get a chance.”
Akash took my little hands in his broad palm. It was heavenly. I didn’t know why, but I felt so assured in his presence as if there was nothing in this world to bother me when he was with me. My heart filled with many words. But I found no words to say. Ripe banyan fruits were pattering all around the steps.
The Crescent moon stepped behind a dark cloud.
“Akash, whatever happens, can we keep in touch?”
“Hmm. We do”.
Akash touched my head with his lips. Something zinged within me. I rested my head on his shoulder and my hand wrapped his. My heart was full of love for him. Time went on hand in hand. When we came out it was already evening. The whole sky was veiled in a furious cloud ready to overpour.
“Akash it will rain soon.”
“What’s the matter? Do you not like rain?”
“I like. I like it too much.” I gargled like a little girl. “Do you remember that day when we first met, it was raining, I found you amidst rain; you are my rain lover.”
The rain started when we reached the parking zone. None were there as it was a deserted area, and the sudden rain stripped all the possibilities of anyone’s presence.
I was shivering in cold and excitement. Akash held my hand and took me under a shed to wait. We stood before the rainy night, with resounding silence. But there was no improvement in the weather. The rain was pouring down incessantly.
“It would not stop today I think. It will be better to leave the place. It is not safe to stay here in this weather.”
So we came out from the shed and reached for the bike. I was about to ride back when suddenly Akash turned.
“Come in front of me”. He demanded huskily.
Guessing some problem I came forward and looked questioningly into his eyes.
I was shocked and in surprise.
“I just say you to kiss me.”
I came close to him and touched his stubbly cheeks with my palms. I stood still dipping my elated eyes on him, hesitating. He placed his hand on my eyes and I felt his demanding wet lips of him on mine.
Akash left me a stoppage earlier.
“Why cannot you go with me to the hotel and drop me there; I am wet and shivering?” I asked, surprised.
“It is already late and I used to come often with my parents there, as it is my uncle’s friend’s hotel. So someone may notice me.”
“What is the problem if someone notices you with me?” The words were hanging on my lips but I was not in the mood of arguing. So I took an auto though I felt slighted at heart at his changed demeanour. When I reached my room all had packed their luggage already. When I switched on my cell phone I found five miscalls two from Soma and three from Mamoni. I felt a hidden pleasure in making her worried for her daughter, perhaps for the first time. But I was also anxious for her. I called her immediately. Everything was ok there. So I took my food and then hurriedly pack my luggage. Tomorrow we would leave Chitora.
I left a message for him and went to sleep.
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.