Thursday, December 17, 2009
Waning Moon (Part 1)
“Mrs. Annie Thomas”
“Mr Akshay Bhatia”
Akshay felt a tinge of nostalgia when he heard the name Annie with his. It had been quite some time since that; 8 years to be exact, and a few hours probably. He was never sure about the time, but he never forgot that day.
Back in college Akshay-Annie was always spoken in same breath, they were inseparable. They used to live together, they both had the same friends, they liked the same things, and even the clothes they had started to resemble each other.
He always wanted to write a song about them but he never got to it. Every time he took up his beloved guitar and started to write something he always got lost, he always wanted to use the words her and the moon in the song. Some people saw a rabbit in the moon, some people saw old woman, he saw her. Though never at loss of words in his real life, he always fell short of expressions when he thought about her love. There was no way he could describe that in his songs.
Annie always used to comment whenever she saw him lost like that with his guitar “I think you love that guitar more than me”.
He always used to reply”Oh yes”. And they both used to giggle like children.
“Strange, isn’t it?” he thought, he now found that giggling in young couples so childish. Sitting in a pinstripe suit with glasses and a leather bag he looked so far removed from it. Like it was some other life.
He looked around to find anything to read in the waiting lounge of Mumbai Airport. This was the best time to catch up on some business articles. At 4 am in the cold November morning there was nobody to call him, no intruding messages on the blackberry, nobody to meet but himself.
He found himself more at peace in this airport lounge than in the fancy holiday resorts where they used to hold the conventions. Those were an exercise in futility for him; there was no point of these conventions but to network. People used to get drunk on free booze and the fact that they were away from their wives always used to egg them on to ‘just one more drink’. The fact that he wasn’t married, wasn’t going to and wasn’t interested in meeting people in his trade made it more like a punishment for him. He did not even go for his IIM-Bangalore alumni meets in Bombay, his sitting in one corner, alone with his ‘scotch on the rocks’ made him look like an alcoholic. “I am drinker with a singing problem” he used to quip whenever somebody commented on his heavy drinking in college days. The alcohol lubricated the jammed windows in his mind and he could go to places in his head he otherwise couldn’t have. He wondered why he was remembering his graduation days again today. He had successfully blocked them out for the past 8 years. Maybe it was that name.
The airline had paged for the business class for the morning flight to Melbourne. And then left him waiting, the flight wasn’t for another one hour. He had come a bit too early, but then he didn’t want to be late. He was always before time in all his appointments now. He had paid a very heavy price for being late in one thing in his life. Plus he liked the dawn, a dark night coming to end and the bright new sun rising out of the ashes. The imagery somehow appealed to the poet inside him that he had tried to strangle.
They had really very well done the new Airport. It was clean, arranged, and very well managed. At par with any other airport, he thought. But now he missed the ‘Indianess’ of it all. The chaos, the rush, people buzzing, India the way he remembered. It was raining and really chilly outside, but the business class lounge was comfortable, warm and dreary. He was looking around for the magazine rack when the something shiny caught his eye. It was the letter ‘A’ hanging from a silver bracelet along with a crescent and a heart. He had seen a similar bracelet once.
It was the time they had gone to Pondhicherry. Annie had really liked it when she had seen it. She didn’t say anything but her eyes did. He always read her eyes and that made him know her; and that made him love her. She wasn’t only all that what she always showed in front of other people, she was more; and she was less.
He asked for the price, “a thousand rupees” was the reply. He made a quick calculation in his head. His new ‘Sustain Pedal’ will have to wait another month, but he had to buy this for her. She had walked a bit ahead of the shop. He bought the bracelet and casually walked ahead of her, suddenly dangling the bracelet in front of her eyes.
“You bought this!” she exclaimed hugging him. "Idiot! This was so expensive.. And I really didn’t want it, I was just checking it out.."
“Ya ya I know” he said putting his finger on her lips to silence her.
“Thank you! I am going to this FOREVER” she said hugging him again.
“Forever” he gave a mocking smile to himself, “What an inept word” and started walking towards the magazine rack. He picked this month’s Forbes and started walking back when he heard a familiar voice call “Akshay”. He turned and his stomach plummeted as he saw the face he used to see in the moon. There she was, dressed in a white kurta and jeans, big dark glasses hiding her pretty eyes but still looking beautiful as ever. The danglers were the same, the ‘A’, the heart and the moon, but the bracelet was different, much more expensive. She had really traded up. But there was something about her eyes.
“Wow, what a surprise. Here of all the places!”
“Hi” he said, trying to muster a casual smile
“Hi, how are you? God, it’s been ages since I last you” she said getting up from the couch.
Akshay wished to recount the exact time. 8 years ..... but better sense prevailed over him. “I’m good” he said “And you? “
“Oh great as ever. I really couldn’t recognize you in the suit and the short hair. What’s up, what are you doing these days?” she chirped, as she lunged forward to hug him.
“Nothing much, I am working in a company called E&Y as a consultant. Was going to Melbourne, we have an office there” he said clearing his throat, as he gently shook her hand taking a step back.
“Oh yes yes I know of the name. There are a big client of my husband’s. My husband works for Mindtree they provide software for your company” she added seeing the puzzled look on his face.
“Oh” and added “Good” almost as an afterthought. He added two plus two in his head. Mindtree had a major office in Singapore and his flight had a stopover at Singapore. Maybe they were going in the same flight.
“So you going to Singapore?" He asked.
“Yes me and my husband live there, since the last 4 years” There was again that tinge of sadness in her eyes.
He remembered the last time he had seen this emptiness in her eyes. And his mind wandered back to that time, 8 years and a few hours ago.....
(to be continued...)
P.S. - I split the post in two because I thought people like me would be too lazy to read such a long post.
Coming Soon - Waning Moon (Part 2)