Archive for April, 2008

The next day was Sunday. A beautiful, cold Sunday , to which Dan woke up on a winter morning. A cold puff of air , came in through the crack in the window, instantly chilling him, painfully making him aware of his harsh existence. But then, there was a freshness in the air, which he could smell. As the sun rays streamed into his room, from the same crack, he could see the particles in the air dancing about in a new light. For a few minutes, Dan just lay back in his bed, mesmerized by those particles, transfixed. It was a dance of joy, almost as if those insignificant particles were thanking the sun, for bringing them out of their dark existence. And then there was a smile on Dan’s face as he got up. What was gone, was gone. He knew his future.

That evening , it was a birthday. Not his, but of one of his most dearest friends in college. Chuck, had been a very good friend here in college, ever since he had come to know him. They were not exactly “perfectly-matched” when it came to their ways of thinking, but they liked to hang out with each other. A deep, highly-driven desire to live each moment of their life to its fullest, was the only thing that bound them, and it was one of the most strongest of bonds that bound their friendship together. Today was Chuck’s birthday.

So, they went to this not-very-well-known restaurant by the river-side, famous more for its excellent view, than for its food. For Dan, it was the name itself that fascinated him – Dolphin. For others, it was an excellent party spot, quiet and serene. It was a roof-top restaurant by the river, that provided a breathtaking view of everything within a 10 km radius. And it was beautiful from up there. That evening, it was almost 9 pm when they got there and as Dan stood by the edge of the roof, he could sense that calm. He could sense the cold air, hitting his face. Below him, the river water ran amidst a silence, broken only by the water striking the stones by the side. Except that, everything was quiet. And he just stood there for eternity, trying to clear his mind. Then Chuck, came from behind and offered him a cigarette.

The next few hours passed in merry-making. Th usual food, the usual talk about everything and nothing, the usual birthday toast and the usual round of drinks. Everything seemed to be “usual”. Sometimes back, all these outings had a charm in them, something special. Now for Dan, they were just usual, just another birthday, just another party.

So, as everybody , sipped the sparkling red wine, from their wineglasses, Dan withdrew, and went across to the edge again. Below him, the water still ran quietly, in the same direction , with the same force. The entire area was lit brilliantly by the tall lights. But the light just shone on the surface of the water, not penetrating it. That darkness of the water, was impenetrable.

There by the side of the river, some distance away from him, he could see a couple, no more than his own age, enjoying the night, by the river. The girl was chasing a group of goose, trying to catch one of them, as they ran away from her. She wanted to get a picture of her with those goose maybe, for he could see the camera in her boy-friend’s hand. The boy too was trying to get one of those goose, but was less energetic. Then there was sudden flash in the darkness. The girl had finally held one of the goose, and while the others of the group flocked at her feet, the boy had managed to capture the scene finally. It brought a smile on Dan’s face. He could almost see himself and Lily, in place of them. Two years ago, when they were still just kids, it was the same river, it was just another night like this, and it was the same group of geese. And it was Lily , who had wanted a picture of hers with those animals, and it was he who had to do this task. She had two more friends with her that day, and it was a wild goose chase. Now that he remembered that event, he thought, it had actually been fun. he had never thought , that such a trivial incident would be so fresh in his mind, two years later. It was as if the whole incident had been replayed before him, by two new characters. Dan just smiled there, lost in his thoughts.

Chuck and the others, had finished with their round of drinks and were calling him for another round. It was already 11 pm, so they could only had a quick sip, and were off to their places. On their way back, Dan caught a glimpse of those geese, now left alone. The couple was nowhere to be seen. But, everything that had happened two years back, when Lily had come here for a few days, now seemed to rewind in his mind.



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It was his third year into his 4-year graduation course. He was an engineering student, who at a certain point in his early life, had secured admission into one of the most prestigious universities of the country, by virtue of what some had said luck, others hard work. He didn’t however think much of his discipline or his qualification. His interests lay somewhere else.

Lily, too was an engineering student of the same discipline , in another prestigious university of the state. But apart from the fact, that her college was nearest to his own, other coincidences didn’t really matter much to Dan.

Tonight , as he lay on his bed, trying to close his eyes, all he could remember were those exam nights, when he had duties to perform. How had it started after all, he thought now. And then he remembered it. Basically, it was during one of those one-hour-or-more long phone talks, when after one full hour had elapsed already in small talk and nonsense, that Lily had come up with this out of the blue idea.

Her exams were coming up, and she needed to study, what with professors expecting so much from poor souls. But after a long tiring day of classes, it was tough to study late at nights, especially since she was used to sleeping at 10 pm. And then she had asked him to check her out at midnight, if she was sleeping. Not much of a problem, Dan had thought then, for he hardly slept before 3 am. He just never found enough time for himself, what with endless late-night parties and other random activities.

So, this makeshift arrangement had continued for a few days. He had always wondered, how she was always awake at midnight to receive his call when she was used to falling off by 10. But then, improvisations followed. And soon the midnight call, had transformed into hourly calls after midnight, till she dozed off by say 2 or 3. It had never gone beyond that however. And this arrangement had continued for full one month. So much so, that sometimes, it was Lily who called back, if he was ever later by even 5 minutes. It had been fun however. It was like someone utilizing the time that he had been wasting.

And then, Dan’s own exams had come up. It was the fifth semester of college, which meant the exams were on cold, chilly, December-winter mornings. And when he partied or say studied late into the night, he had never been able to get up the next morning in time for come-what-may. But this time, he too had his own plan, something which included Lily. He now had a smile on his face as he thought about those days.

Basically, it was , Lily’s turn to return the honors, by waking him up, in time for his exams. So at 7 am every morning, for full 3 weeks of exams, Lily had woken him up from his slumber, kicked him on the phone itself, and sent him rushing to the exam center, with some last minute words like best-o-luck or you-are-an-idiot-of-the-infinite-order. Now that he thought about all those days, he realized , it had a two-fold advantage. He was able to give his exams almost on time. But most importantly, it was just so heart-warming to start a day with her voice , on a cold winter morning. Sometimes, when he was actually accidentally awake the whole night, he had still feigned sleep at 7 am, just to hear her voice on the other end of the phone.

Exams had been the biggest disaster since 9-11. But he still felt good. He knew, that if she remained there for him, as she was then, he would never lose. He would never stay behind. He would never be discouraged. He would never be down. And now, into his last year of graduation, she wasn’t there for him and it was for the first time in 4 years now, that he had actually been behind guys, who never even thought of coming up to him, leave aside overtaking him. And it was not only a matter of academics, it was the same with his life as well.

And as he thought ,about his life now, the smile disappeared. Those were good days, days when it seemed that nothing could ever go wrong, nothing bad could ever happen. But things did go wrong. Things did change. And he didn’t like it. He wasn’t happy. He just couldn’t be. The late night parties were still there, but he never had the heart to enjoy them now. Those random activities were still there, but he never enjoyed them now.

Only sleep seemed a good option as of now, to him. So he just closed his eyes, turned over his side and feigned sleep once again.


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