Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Four days to New Year

It is almost an hour now and I am still staring at the screen in front of me which has an opened MS Outlook in it, yearning to type in a few words. It was not so long that I heard from one of my friends that Neena is going to get married tomorrow. When we met the last time, I had decided not to attend such a function of hers for any reasons whatsoever. Nevertheless, I had this continuing thought in my mind to send her at least an email that I ended up with this freaking mail window staring back at me. After all we were together for a year and we enjoyed a great time being together though we broke up almost two years back.

Four more days to the New Year and my inbox was already snowed under New Year greetings from my friends. Purns, she worked with me and was kind of a mentor to me, sends emails regularly; better call it forwards. I hardly replied to her and sometimes didn’t even open those forwards. I was not like this before. But like my other friends Purns also knew that I was busy here in London looking after a particular account of my company and I usually didn’t get time to reply to the emails from my friends. But due to some unknown instinct, I opened the latest email from her. New Year resolutions, it read. What does Purns had to advice me on a New Year? I wondered because I knew Purns knows that advices usually face a rebuff from me.

Seven things you should do on a New Year! That’s its heading. Holy Crap! I hate such forwards. But still, it’s a New Year. I gave a skim read to that forward. A particular line in it caught my attention. It’s not because that line was so great. It’s because that line had something to do with what I have been thinking for the past one hour. It read “Call someone whom you didn’t talk to for a long time”. And the first person that came to my mind was her, Neena. Was that a spur; a stimulus to call her on her marriage!

I still remember the day on which I met Neena for the first time. It was the day on which I got a confirmation letter from my company saying that my one year probationary period has come to an end and now I am a wholly owned fraction of the company. You can’t forget dates like that. They become a part of your life due to their sheer importance. I couldn’t forget my first meeting with Neena due to the coincidence of our tryst with that date. The one year rotational policy of my company marked the end of my tenure in my first project and re-implanted me into another project on the same day. That’s where I met her where we happened to get close.

Well, time has its own way to change things. Things happened in succession and it changed our relationship so drastically that it took a turn from a point where it was so difficult for us to not see each other and to not talk with each other to a point where thinking about each other was the most painful thing in our lives. The umpteen missed calls that traveled to and from our cell phones, which reminded us that we thought of each other whenever we got that, eventually stopped! And then it came to a formal end, at the jogger’s park in Vashi, on the old wooden bench by the side of the track. We went there past office hours and we both were in a hurry to somehow end it and go to our flats. I left the place, didn’t turn back, got into a metro which took me to the station near my flat. I didn’t know how she felt that time. I didn’t feel sad because I was in a haze. I didn’t realize what was happening to me, to her, to us. I never went to that park after that.

Two years can change many things. The gigantic green tree near the bus stand died off leaving a big blue hole in its place. All of my friends left to different places, more scattered than before; across the globe. My office changed from a congested cubicle in Thane to this cabin in the 45th floor of Skyline Plaza, London. And here I am, thinking about my first love on the previous day of her marriage, about which I came to know only an hour back.

So I am going to call her today. Yes I think I should call her. After all, once I loved her more than anyone else in this world and her smallest worries were my largest concerns. I closed the mail window and took my cell phone and went outside to call her. I still store all the telephone numbers associated with her. Her own, her residence number, her dads’ and her moms’. I wanted to delete it all from my phone to stop myself from thinking about her but somehow I kept it till now. Did I still love her? Can I expect a miracle when I call her? That she will come back to me. What the fuck! What all am I thinking? It’s her marriage tomorrow.

A gentle breeze caressed the balcony while I stood near the parapet with my cell phone. I pressed the number key 3 for quite sometime. Shit! Though years passed, my thumb still remembers the shortcut I made to her number! The phone on the other end kept on ringing for some time before it was taken, as was the norm with her and then I heard a voice.


“Hello, this is Hari here. Am I talking to Neena?” I replied while I was trying to recognize her voice after a long time.

After a brief silence, she replied. “Hari… Yes it is me!”

“How are you, Neena?”

“I am fine, how are you?”

“I am fine too. It’s after a long time that we are talking to each other”


“What is his name?”



“So Hari, have you married?”

“No I haven’t”. My mind took me back time, to the table at the corner in our office canteen where Neena was asking me this.

“What will you do if we can’t get married to each other and I got married to someone else?”

“Hmm… difficult question; I’ll leave the country and won’t come back to this soil then” my reply was as careless as it could be.

“Oh I’m sorry.” Her reply brought me back to the present.

“Sorry? Why? I am outside the country now” I replied all of a sudden.

She was silent. Was she remembering our conversation at the canteen?



“I called you to wish you a happy married life. I came to know that tomorrow is your marriage”

“Thank you, Hari. But my marriage happened three weeks back”

“What” I was in a shock.

“But still, the wishes hold” I didn’t realize what I was saying. I was in a haze. The same haze I was in, two years back at the park in Vashi.

“Ok then, Bye”

“Bye”. And she kept the phone down.

And that’s it. There was no office or balcony around but this demented flat in the Mumbai suburbs. I finished my story which my friend, my editor, Rohit has been asking me for more than a week to be published in his evening tabloid. Tomorrow it will go to the press and will come out as those murky lifeless printed alphabets which lack the power to convey feelings. After all who wants to read it with that passion? The four pegs of Bacardi are still active in my stomach. And its heat added with my emotions put me in to a bizarre state where there was only me. And at a distance I saw a disappearing shadow.