Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Stranger in Black...

As he walked towards his favorite pathway, Alan could not help but notice the heavy lump at the bottom of his heart. He could see the distant, cheerful silhouettes of his friends, at their animated best, walking towards the exit gate without him and every joyous gesture they made only added weight to his already-heavy heart. He turned at the junction near the Guest House facing the pathway and hoped the sneers, the laughs and the images would fade away- out of sight.. out of mind! But he knew he was hoping against hope... atleast with the latter!

Having walked a little more than 10 feet, he parked himself on the bench closest to the junction. The sun had not set yet, however, the clouds had covered it letting its radiance turn the sky, bloody orange and the tiny birds flying down to their nests in diamond-shaped patterns set the tone for a beautiful evening that awaited Alan. He looked around for familiar faces. A group of first year students were playing cricket in the gully beside the tarred pathway. A little further ahead, he spotted the regulars at various benches parked on either side of the pathway- the second year couple who could not keep their hands off each other, an elderly married couple who belonged to the same place as Alan and a group of old men who religiously met daily for 3 hours in the evening and flaunted their life and work experiences and discussed the pathetic plight of Indian and world politics and how everyone around could do little to improve the situation. Alan chuckled at them and continued to scan the surroundings. It wasn't a bit different from the usual and soon he was engrossed in his own thoughts.

The week that passed had brought with it a deja vu like never before. Growing distances in friendships were definitely not a novelty to Alan! However it was the last thing he contemplated in the final semester of his engineering studies. Madhu knew about his history of relations but still chose to ignore him and let the distances build. The reason was not something Alan could fathom and the more he thought of it, the harder he found to resist the tears.

Alan tried to break away from his thoughts, but in vain. His thoughts were broken (if they were) by occasional hi's from a few familiar joggers passing by or by the awkward glances of pity thrown on the lonely soul by a few groups of students who walked down the pathway.

"Maybe frienship is, afterall, a myth" he thought to himself! Or was he not good enough to be befriended? He could not conclude... An array of thoughts crossed his mind and before he could realize, a drop of tear flew down his left cheek. He quickly scanned the place for any kind of attention being thrown on him and having confirmed that he was unguarded, he wiped the tear away. He longed for a friendly pat... for a reassuring smile... He hoped that someone would appear out of thin air and crack a joke on him, like the usual... But none of them were meant to happen!

He looked at his watch. It was around 6 45pm. The picturesque view of the setting sun diverted his attention for sometime and as soon as he reached out for his mobile to take a pic, it started ringing. He recognized the caller as Sam, his only acquaintance he could remotely call as a friend in the campus. He decided not to pick up the call and let the phone ring...though he was amazed at his own ambivalent behavior. In pain, Alan hid his face into his palms. A moment or two passed by.

"Do you mind if i join you?" Alan looked up ... He saw a pretty girl, dressed in black, looking expectantly at him for a reply! "Of course not.. please... go ahead" He readjusted himself to make enough space for the girl. Alan's heart did skip a beat when she flashed a million dollar, dimpled smile at him. She thanked him and sat beside him with crossed legs and her hands covering her knees in a crossed fashion.

Alan looked around. He saw a few empty benches on the other side of the pathway. He could not figure out why a girl, as pretty as her, would come, sit with him when there were empty benches on the other side. He was definitely not breathtakingly handsome for someone to hit on him. Neither was he a popular figure among the student folks in the college for he did not quite possess any recognizable talent. Maybe she saw him shed a tear...He was confused...However, he felt nice about it!

Maybe the silence was getting eerie... " So do u study here?" she asked in a compassionate tone. It took Alan a moment to process her question and replied.. "hmmm yeah... I am a 4th year student here... What about you? I don't think I have seen you before in the college... " She hesitated a little to reply... "hmmm ... Actually, I don't study here.. I came over to visit my ..hmm... friend"
" Ooh... who? "
" His name is Rahul.. He is in the first year... "
" Oh I don't think I know him.. I haven't really had ways of getting to know them, the freshers... so why are you not with him... hmmm i mean.. as in... errr... where is he? " Alan hated himself for having phrased the question the way he did...

"He has these football practices... He is very particular about them... never misses a single one .. i guess not even when his girl friend is here, all the way from Delhi, just to meet him! " she sighed. There was an awkward moment of silence between them, only to be broken by her.

"This place is so beautiful... I wish I could come here everyday and just watch the sun, set" she said in a high-pitched tone!

"Oh totally... Its probably the most beautiful place in campus... I come here daily at around this time... The sunset is a marvel to watch from here... I kind of feel one with the nature when I am here.. hehe"

"So do you wanna go for a walk?" she offered... " Oh i wouldn't mind that" He smiled and agreed. They got up and walked towards the institute buildings. Alan was not sure if he had made the right decision in agreeing for the walk since if it was a pair on a walk... it ought to be a couple.. It was almost like a rule in the campus.. and he did not feel quite right about it... But he decided to go ahead, anyways

Alan noticed that darkness had begun to fall around. He looked at her... She looked more beautiful in the dim lights of the street light.... They gave her face, a certain glow, which moved Alan. The curls of her hair having mild battles with the soft breeze... the cherry red lips.. the dimpled smile.. the neatly drawn kajal on her eye lashes... Alan could not decide... what he was falling more for...

"Hello...kaha kho gaye ho janaab?" she waved her hands in front of his face and gave him an "I- know-what- u-r-thinking " look adorned by her dimpled smile...Alan passed a sheepish smile and to cover up... he quickly asked "so u are from delhi huh?" she nodded. " I am doing my bachelors in economics there in St.Stephens... " "wow.. thats impressive... I study Comp Sci here..." "Computer Science" he expanded seeing the blank expression on her face..

"oh so u r one of those geeks" she remarked...

"oh definitely not... i mean i sure am smart... but i am not one of those who u would see with books 24x7"
"hmm.. hey why don't u show me around the campus... Though I came in the morning, Rahul was busy with his classes and now the football matches... so I never really got to explore the campus"

"ooh thats sad... don't worry..I ll take you around!"

"I know it is sad but there are somethings u cant change...It hurts.. doesnt it? when your loved ones cannot spare time for u and u feel u r getting distanced from them" Those words shook me a bit. It was as if a sharp pointed arrow had just hit me below my heart and the pain was invincible. I could not help but relate her with me and the situations we were in... "Did i bother u? I am sorry I got a bit emotional... " she said

" Oh No.. never mind.. we all go through such phases... we all come out of it.. it is not a big deal!but you know whats funny enough.. even when u think u r losing your loved ones.. there is always someone else.. maybe a foe.. maybe an acquaintance or maybe even a stranger out there who is willing to hear u out and help u through it"Alan said and smiled reassuringly...

Maybe it was the smile or maybe the allusion he made, her spirits were lifted and both of them set out to explore the campus... He took her through the institute to the major hang out spots and the sports field where they spotted Rahul playing in all vigor and passion. They went through all the dark nooks, corners and roads of the campus and Alan always had one or the other story to tell about them. Alan could make out that she was very much fascinated by his anecdotes and he could not conceal his astonishment on how well they had hit off that he actually ended up mentioning it when they stopped at the cafe for a cup of coffee and a couple of muffins. She nodded, smiled and thanked him for the beautiful evening. Alan wished the evening never ended.He looked at his watch. It was around nine. He was not hungry. That evening, the hunger was of different sorts and it sure was satisfied by this pretty girl with her comforting words and friendly gestures... he felt like he connected with her more than anything else in the world... They had talked about probably everything under the sun... from movies to books to fashion to college to relations... and he discovered that they shared more or less similar tastes and views about everything... It felt good to feel accepted... for a change...

"Hey i am not really tired and i don't think i am hungry either... why dont we continue walking.. only if u r ready for it" Alan was not sure if he was tired or not... but he dint want IT to end... he smiled and they took off through the road that led to the girls hostel where she stayed... As they approached the hostel,maybe a couple of minutes later, he saw Rahul and a couple of his friends waiting at its entrance, possibly for her... Alan's heart shrunk... ofcourse he knew it could not go on forever... but he did not think it would end soon... Rahul opened his arms and took her into them and kissed her on her forehead and then introduced her to his friends...

"I am sorry, baby, I left you alone and went out to play.. but u do realise how important it is right.. the football tournament is less than a month away"
"Ofcourse I do" she replied... Alan did not feel she did."and yeah..I was not alone... He was there with me... He is a 4th year... Do you know him? He kept me in good company.. and we kind of had good fun"
"Oh thats nice to know u were not bored... hey i don't think i know u... I am Rahul " He forwarded his hands... Alan shook hands with him and said "Alan! nice to meet you... "

"Okay then.." Rahul said with an air of superiority... " I guess we ll go for a walk now" and smiled at her....well that meant Alan had to bid farewell... He really did not want to.. but he realized he had no choice...His "goodbye" went unheard when she interrupted and said "Rahul I am not really sure if I am feeling well... I am kind of tired and I want to rest... I hope u won't mind if I go to my room and take rest.." Rahul was taken aback and so was Alan... "Hadn't she just insisted on walking more cus she wasn't tired... ha whatever..." Alan thought to himself "Oh its perfectly fine baby.. go on we'll meet tomorrow" Rahul replied and gave her a good night kiss and left for his hostel... and Alan left for his hostel in the opposite direction ....

He had taken only a few steps that he felt a need to take a final glance at that pretty girl in black... and he turned back...She was still standing there... She dint look any less beautiful from far than from near... The curves were flawless.. As he was about to turn and continue... she raised her hands and waved a farewell goodbye at him from the distance... he waved back at her and walked ahead... A few steps later... before he was to take a turn at the junction.. he involuntarily turned back again... She was still there... He captured the short with his mind's eye and turned and walked towards his hostel....

It is interesting in life, how you befriend someone and you expect from the befriended, love and care, only to be left disappointed... but fate, as it always does, plays the aankh-micholi with u and brings with it strangest of strangers who offer you company and compassion like never before,leaving behind an eternal impression on you... For Alan, it was The Stranger In Black...

13 comments:

Tanaya said...

awesome post!! quite a vivid description... i felt i was actually there watching!! good work! blog more often!

Vidya said...

WTF u deleted comment :X
spoiltsport!

smilingassassin said...

this is a new post in the new format.. i deleted the entire previous post... anyways it was a comment on how to format.. nothing related to the blog rt? there is no proof that u read it .. so its ok i guess :P

U.Sidharth Bhat said...

All because Alan didn't have 'a' football practice to go to..

P.S. This is actually a serious comment..

tata birla said...

Back with a bang !

Pardon my profound ignorance, but who is alan ? :P

Vaishnavi said...

Fiction? I do find some obvious references to someone I know. Well nice one anyway. For a change, I didn't find it long at all. It kept me interested till the end. So cheers! Write more stories :D

smilingassassin said...

@ yogi...alan cud be anyone... in the journey of life, we all r sometimes left alone only to be soothed by a stranger's presence... :)

@vaish... i dont think i know who u r referring to... if it is the obvious.. then u r rong... :)

NAL'I'n'I' said...

Nice one... I felt I was experiencing it with Alan (who is he though??)

It is quite weird... you meet someone- a stranger, you exchange pleasantries- an acquaintance, you talk and share- a friend. As we move from one stage to another our expectations from the other person and the relationship start increasing. The list of things we take for granted grows longer. Pain and disappointment are just eventualities. This pain makes friends out of people in the first two categories. And so goes on the cycle...

misterbutler said...

awesome post achu! i wasnt sure whether der was a lil bit of tears in my eyes by d time i finished readin...
alan wil b alrite... atleast dis incident helped him realize dat der r ppl hu cud njoy his company.. its nt far frm he realizin der r many lik dat among whom he knows, let alone his friends.
hope dis is nt ur annual blog for 2009.. keep ritin!!

gowri said...

Awesome post , good read.
I feel, maybe we all expect strangers in black to make us feel better , like we expect rajini to end corruption hehe.
If we jus look around we can see strangers in blue and red and green , surely the color of a true friend is present in one of them. Must take the time to see
@ u.si - nice 1

nutty said...

I think Alan was doing some serious batting practice.... :P ... nice post ashwin.....the post maybe 'fictitious'....but Alan seems familiar somehow..... :P

smilingassassin said...

i am really sad by the obvisou references u made in ur mind wen u read the article.. the theme was supposed to be the crux! not the character and again, it was not the obvious, it was based on someone i know! :P

Nandu said...

depressing.. :((
veryy well written though..