Sunday, September 23, 2012


Shubho stood looking at the mirror; confused, apprehensive and excited. He was so nervous; almost over the edge with it. Was the off white shirt good enough, he thought? Antara liked shirts, especially the suave ones but that was ten years back; what if she didn’t like it anymore. For a brief moment, he looked at himself. For the first time in years he missed himself, somewhere down the line he had stopped being the Shubho that Antara had fallen in love with. He sat down on the sofa & started recollecting of the days gone by. The wrinkles were prominent, her face showed the signs of aging. It was a long time ago, since they had met in a busy metro station for a passing moment. From a distance it seemed, she was no longer the girl who was vibrant and always happy. At the same time, the ten long years had taken a toll on him as well; he hardly could be himself or even if he did it was fake and not uninhibited. All he did now was work, eat and sleep. He opened up his old personal drawer which still had those old letters, gifts & pictures of them together. Despite feeling infuriated & having an irrepressible urge to burn them all down at times, Shubho just couldn’t do away with those. His eyes settled on an old picture of them that had the beach in the backdrop. They had been to Shankarpur – one of their most memorable trips. In the picture they looked happy but that was years ago. That was when Shubho & Antara loved each other truly, madly, deeply. Shubho suddenly felt tears in his eyes. It wasn’t the first time. Since that fateful evening when she had walked out of his life, he had cried himself silently on numerous occasions. He felt imprisoned in the house where everything reminded him of those days of love, commitment and passion. The grey colored cupboard in his bedroom, still had one of her T-shirts in one of the wooden shelves. He just couldn’t get himself to get rid of that. Shubho remembered how they had exchanged tees before she left for her studies. Right next to it lay the brown envelope. It contained what she had written for him before she left home. Some old moments, instantly flashed - On a number of occasions Shubho would sneak up to her while she would be busy getting dressed. He would hug her and caress her as if to promise a life of happiness and togetherness. He would stare into her beautiful kajal laced eyes & she would feel shy & move away. But it had been a decade since that had happened. He had a quick look on his watch – it was 6.30 in the evening. It was already dark outside. In an hour Shubho would be at the same bus stop where they had first set eyes on each other. Shubho clearly recollects. She was wearing a yellow kurta & jeans and standing right in front of the western union money transfer branch at Rashbehari. Hello Beautiful! I’m Shubho. Did I make you wait long? - Yes that was what he had said on that evening after they had gotten introduced to each other on the web. Antara had to leave for his parents. They just seemed not to accept her at all costs. Shubho had left home instantly & somehow managed to survive through that day every second of the past ten years. She should have stayed back or was she right to leave him; the answer evades him every time. She hated him for not standing up for them; for what they had. Sometimes it seems futile to stop loving & missing her. Sometimes, he despised himself for not being able to let go. He tucked his shirt neatly, wore his best perfume, picked his car keys and left towards their rendezvous point. They had spoken on chat after years & decided to meet one last time. As he continued driving through the city streets, he quickly remembered what he had missed. Yellow Roses! Those were her favorite. Fortunately, he could locate a florist & picked up a bouquet. He was in such a mood, that he didn’t even bargain with the shopkeeper. The words - keep the change seemed to come out automatically. The shopkeeper smiled as Shubho stepped out. As he neared the destination, his heart beat grew stronger and faster. He felt thirsty and his feet grew numb as he saw the bus-stop from a distance. The same western union money transfer branch hoarding seemed to greet him. The moment of truth was now near. He parked his car and impatiently waited for the signal to turn red for him to cross. As the signal turned red, he adjusted his specks and started to walk. There was a bus just infront of the stop. He kept walking; the view of the stop was thwarted by the bus. As he reached close enough the bus slowly started moving. His heart sank as he could see the bus-stop was completely vacant. Maybe she wouldn’t turn up he thought. Maybe, she would have a different life now. Maybe he was simply silly to live each day of the past ten years in anticipation of this defining moment. He looked towards the metro exit gate which was partially hidden by an auto in the front. There was a lady with a little boy, perhaps six to seven years in age standing at a distance. As he looked carefully, the lady looked familiar. She looked beautiful with a cotton yellow saree and that customary kajal on her eyes. The boy was cute with a chocolate in his hand. It didn’t take him long to figure that it was Tora – as he would fondly call her. She was looking at him too and their eyes met for the first time in years. ‘How are you Tora?’ he asked. ‘Not bad, but I missed you.’ she replied calmingly. ‘I still love you and perhaps someday in a different world I will prove that to you Tora’ he looked apologetic. ‘Oh Shubho, I know. I have known it all along. Sometimes there is more to love than being together’ she said. As they kept looking at each other intensely, the little boy suddenly called out to Antara. ‘Aunty lets go home’. It was as if they were in a trance which was broken by the child’s voice. ‘Oh, I’m sorry meet Rohan. He is my life now’. She introduced him to the little boy. ‘How are you Rohan Babu? Here is something for you’. Shubho gave him the crackle that he had got for her. Antara smiled. ‘And here is something for you’ said Shubho to Antara as he walked up to her and handed her the bouquet of roses. Antara took it and their hands touched. They felt the same emotions jolt their souls; that of love, sorrow and passion. ‘I guess I need to leave’ she said looking up towards him and then turned away. Shubho stood there as Antara & Rohan walked towards home. She opened the piece of paper stapled to the bouquet and it read, ‘I’ll never say our love is imperfect, For I still love you, In some sense we are still entwined together. Yes life has been unfair and we did what we thought was right at that moment, I know you are lonely and if anything that I feel guilty for is that I left you alone, But know this I am alone too for Shubho needs Antara. But my love I know someday we will be together, one day beyond this world’ As the car picked up speed on the Byepass, Shubho had her in his thoughts. Perhaps, they would be together again someday in a different timeline. He knew one thing for sure and it was that his love for her was so strong that letting go was neither an option then nor it is now.

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