When I met you again…….
Published by Sunitha Bhaskar
Copyright 2017 Sunitha Bhaskar
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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“Yesterday night I got an unexpected phone call”. My friend told me when we met in the next morning. I developed the idea of this story ‘When I met you again ….’ from that talk. I hope, the readers will find the story interesting.
Today there is a meeting at 10 am and I started a little early so as to reach the office by 9.45 am. I just drove into the main road; “Oh, no. how can there be such a huge traffic jam here?” I was expecting a traffic block 10-15 minutes later where the work of ‘metro’ is in progress. These days, that construction work is leading to a delay of even to 15-20 minutes.
The traffic is moving at snail’s pacing. The honking of vehicles has become so irritating. “When you know that, blowing the horn is of no help, why can’t you show some patience?” I thought as usual. The only respite during the huge traffic jam is the good songs being played from the ‘fm’ channel.
I looked at my watch. It is 9.15 am, already lost 10 minutes without any movement in the traffic. I looked at the side mirror; a huge traffic is waiting behind. I looked through the driver’s mirror, just to see the expressions of other drivers in waiting. The guy in the car just behind me appeared not in a hurry. Soon I felt a sense of familiarity. I looked through the mirror once again. “I know him very well, but who is he, how I know him?” I was trying to recognise him.
The traffic started moving slowly. I was trying to recollect his name. ‘‘Was he there in my previous office?” “ No”. “Then in college?” “no”. “Or I met him during some interview or while travelling?” I was confused. “‘That may not be the case as his face is very familiar”. I once again looked through the mirror. His car was there. Two traffic signals were not working and that had created the block. Slowly the traffic gained momentum. In order clear the block the traffic police had diverted the vehicles to the service road. I continued in the main road, as I had to take a right turn from the next traffic signal. I just glanced again through the mirror. “Yes, the car was still behind me”. Soon it clicked me “Yes it is Arun.” I wished his car to come close to my car so that, I can clearly see his face.
The traffic light was ‘green’ and I took the right turn. I looked at the mirror. His car was not there. I was sure that, it was Arun. But I felt disappointed as I missed an opportunity to meet him first time after 3 years. Soon, I became happy as a thought came to me that, we would be meeting soon.
I reached the office exactly at 10.00 am, and went straight to the Committee room for the meeting.
The first thing that I did after lunch was browsing the facebook for ‘Arun’. The search result showed so many; but none looked like the ‘Arun’ I met today. While driving back home also, I was looking for him. Every day morning I started with the hope that, today we may meet. But nothing happened.
“Was that Arun?” I started doubting. “Yes, that was him only”. The next moment I was sure. “If I meet him again, whether he will be recognising me?” “Hope he will remember me.” I was confused with all these thoughts. Days passed. I diidn’t see him again. I felt like losing the hope.
Again I started thinking of him, when Swati called me. She said, she is in town and will be here for a month. She was my neighbour and we studied together from school till graduation. We decided to meet on next Saturday. I wished I could meet him also like this.
Swati has joined an IT firm in Bangalore and has come here for some training. We chatted a lot over coffee. Soon I thought of asking her about Arun. “Do you remember one Arun who was in our school and college, two years senior to us? ”
“That tall guy who was in the volley ball team in school?” She asked. “Yes”, I replied. “What happened to him? She asked. “Yeh, nothing. I met him once here”. I said. “What is he doing?” that was her next question. “I don’t know.” I said. “Then what did you talk?” She laughed loudly. “We didn’t talk at all” I said. I narrated the incident. From Swati’s words I guessed that, she was not having any idea about his whereabouts.
That day I had plans to take a metro, as I have some other assignment. I was waiting in the platform. One train has just gone and the next one will be arriving in 10 minutes.
I took a widow seat. Soon I saw Arun coming down the escalator. I was extremely happy and thought that, definitely he will enter this compartment, as this one is the nearest. I looked towards the door. Passengers were coming in but he was not among them. “Did he take another compartment? Is he waiting for the next train?” I felt so sad that we just missed again.
The whole day I was remembering him. “Why you are so much thinking about him? He may not even remember you.” My mind was questioning me. “That can be true, but if I tell him, he will remember me”. I tried to comfort myself.
I was coming from the library, when Arun called me from behind. That was the first and last occasion when we had talked.
We used to see each other sometime in the campus, but that was only an exchange of a smile.
“Our classes are over. Exams will start in a month.” Arun said. “I am planning to go for a course of journalism and mass communication”. He continued. He was talking a lot as if we used to interact very often. “Let us have a coffee,” he said while entering the canteen. All these time, I was simply listening and following him.
We took a corner table. While occupying the seats, he said, “You are not like this, I presume.” “Like what?” I asked. “Thank God, she has a voice.” By saying this, he laughed.
He ordered for two coffee and some snacks.
“You must be thinking that, why I am talking to you so much, when we are meeting for the first time.” He asked the question as if he was reading my mind. “No, No…it is not like that…we used to meet in the campus.” I said. “Ok, then tell me when we met for the first time” he asked. “During the school trip… it was you who dropped me at my place, as my parents couldn’t come to pick me up. My mother had fallen ill all of a sudden and my father was out of station.” I said, with the joy of student giving the correct answer in a surprise test.
“Yes, I remember that, we had reached the school after the trip a little early. My parents had come. It was then that, Maya Ma’am got a call from your mother. Keeping the phone call on hold, she asked ‘whether anybody is taking that route of yours’ and my mother quickly asked, ‘We are going that way, what is the matter?’ Then she spoke to your mother and thus we went together”. He narrated that incident.
“But that was not the first time, when I met you”, he paused looking at me. “Then…” I tried to recollect any other incident, but couldn’t.
“That day, I saw you with a friend in the playground….you were crying, remember now?” he asked.
“Oh it was you who had taken me to the principal…I hadn’t noticed you then”, I said.
“I saw you crying and I felt that your friend couldn’t console you, and it was then that I decided to approach you”. He said, I asked you many times for the reason…..but in vain. Then I asked your friend and she told me only this much “some problem in her family and she wants to go home”. It was then that I took you to the Principal’s room”. He narrated it as if it happened yesterday.
“May I ask you now, why you were crying then…” he asked. “A girl from another class had come and informed me that, she saw my father meeting with an accident in the morning, while she was waiting for the school bus. His scooter was hit by a car. I was tensed a lot…”, I said. “I hope he was not injured much…” he asked. “Fractured his leg”. I said.
“But then you waited for all these years to find out the reason…” I was not ready to give up this time.
“Who told that, I had come to your class on the next day, peeped through the window and saw you interacting with your friends in a normal way, and I went back….”He smiled as if he had shared a big secret.
We walked towards the bus stop. I had already missed my routine bus. “This is my phone number”, he wrote his number on a piece of paper and gave to me. Neither he asked for my number nor did I give. He waited there till my bus came.
Throughout the journey, I wondered, why he talked to me so much. As soon as I reached my home, I took out that paper and stapled it in my diary. Though, I used to remember him occasionally, I never called him.
“I have to contact him…I wish to see him…he will definitely remember me….But how?” I was very eager to meet him. “The only way to contact him is getting his number….but I don’t know whether my old diary is still in my cupboard at home”, I was worried. Finally, I decided to give a try. Every day, I used to call my mother at night, but today I called her from the office. As usual, we exchanged a few words, and then I asked her to search for the diary and to inform me the number. She called me in the evening and gave me the number. As she had kept all my books as it was, without much difficulty, she located the diary.
It was 8.30 pm. I decided to call him. “Hello” A lady answered. “Arun’s mother”, “yes, may I know who is speaking?” She asked. “Auntie, I don’t know you remember me, I was his junior, Reshmi,; you had dropped me at home once, when we returned from the school trip”. I said.
“I remember you”, she replied. “Auntie, can I talk to Arun?” I couldn’t hear her reply. “Is he at home?” I asked. “No.” She replied. “Oh, this number with you now”. I asked. “Yes”, she replied. “Can you give me his number?” I didn’t get a reply to that question. “Or else please tell him to call me when he returns. Ok Auntie, bye”. I kept the phone.
After some time, may be half an hour or so, I got the call. I quickly picked up the phone and answered, “ Hello, Arun”. “No, Reshmi, this is Auntie”. “Oh, he is not back yet. Auntie, I had met him twice recently.” “You met him recently?” “In fact today also I saw him, but we couldn’t talk.” I said. “That may not be Arun.” She said. “No, Auntie, I saw him clearly, that too twice.” “Tell me Auntie when he will be back home?” When I didn’t get a reply I continued, “He gets late?” A long silence was the answer. “Auntie, are you able to hear me? hello” “Yes,…..but no…”. I felt as if she is struggling to speak. “Auntie are you alright?” Her silence added to my worry. I called her loudly. After some time she started speaking, “I don’t know how to tell you….We lost him one month back in an accident”. She then briefly narrated that fateful incident. I was shocked. I lost my words. Somehow I said ‘bye’ to her and disconnected the call.
“Then who was he, whom I met? I don’t think that was a mere illusion”, I wasn’t ready to accept that Arun is no more, above all, it was unbelievable that, it wasn’t Arun, whom I met these days.
I was quite disturbed….I was awoke in the whole night.
I washed my face, splashed water on my eyes again and again to hide the swollen eyes. Mechanically, I got ready for the office. I didn’t feel like cooking breakfast and lunch and left the home. While driving to office again I started hoping to see him….soon I tried to convince myself that, we won’t be meeting again.
After reaching office, I took out the phone, redialled the last call. “I don’t know, what to tell you..Auntie”. With great difficulty, I started to talk. “Reshmi, I was also thinking to call you, I knew that, it was shocking for you to hear about him”. She said. “But Auntie, I am sure, that was Arun whom I saw….” For a moment, we both didn’t speak. “Auntie, perhaps he had come to tell me that, he is leaving…as he had done in the last time….but, this time he had left forever…”
Wiping my tears, I disconnected the call.