PLAYING THE BROKEN HARP
Relationships: Heartbreak Lane: Bhabana Pathak studies the emotions of a young lady who is undergoing a traumatic experience…
I wake up. Two messages blinking in my cell. Reading them, I carefully chose my words, typing a reply.
I look out of my window and see the rising sun. Somehow I am reminded of a line by Dumbledore, “Oh to be young and to feel love’s keen sting”. I smile in melancholy. I am pulled back to the present by the familiar wails of a neighbor’s kid. It’s like clockwork. Every day at the same time he would wail and I am forced to give up my last minute hassle with sleep. The wall clock warns me that if I do not rise and shine, I am bound to be thrashed in the first class itself.
I was late for my classes. Struggling hardly through the overcrowded bus, I manage to claim a seat.
A window seat.
A fat lady sits by me. I feel myself squeezed between the side of the bus and her tummy and slowly the conductor arrives, “Maina, kotjaaba?”
I am surprised for a brief moment and then fumble into my bag for money. “Guwahati Club”, I sharply reply. I am furious. Who am I? The universal Maina!
I look into nothingness and am reminded of her words. She seemed to be in pain. Maybe I will understand but that will not be enough to soothe the turmoil in her heart. I have practically grown up along her side, matured together. I saw her transforming from an introvert to a love struck teenager.
I have seen her laugh. I have seen her grumpy. But to hear her cry and mouth unclear words between sobs- was unfamiliar territory.
I do not understand the depth of relationships due to my own misgivings. I do not understand how two people, after being so thick, cease to feel the extent of hurt, they are causing to the other. I have memories swirling in my mind of them together…carefree laughter and evening strolls. And how difficult it had been back then for us to meet without him tagging along.
They were like cup and saucer.
I wonder, if I am troubled by them, what state would she be in?
I am engrossed in my lectures. By 1.30 I went down and called her. She was on her way. I meet her down the over bridge. She tells me that she wants to someplace to sit. I suggest we eat something. I take her to a small restaurant you get the best chow mein in Guwahati. I gesturedto the waiter for the usual and he brought our food with a smile.
“Do you know him?” she asks me quizzically. I laugh, “Well I get to eat the cheapest chow mein here. Regular customer you see. He ought to know me”. She forces spoonful and I notice her teary eyes. I knew she wasn’t up to eating anymore. I do not push her. I let her be whatever she wanted that day.
She insisted on going to Dighalipukhuri. I passed by that pond for two years yet never entered its infamous premises.
“If my father sees me sitting here, I am sure as hell dead’, I comment warningly. “You have a jumper with a hood! You won’t be dead so easily”, she teased me. Pun was intended.
Nevertheless she needed to be heard. And water bodies are calm. I needed to soothe her. Reinvigorate her.
I have always held a fascination for water bodies. I listened as my eyes followed the ripples in the pond. She took long pauses between her words. I could feel her pain but the breeze brought calmness around. I didn’t say much. I couldn’t. She needed to let out her words. The mind must get rid of troubled thoughts for if harbored, they cause harm. To both the owner of the thoughts and the one thought about. It was a cleansing ritual.
It happened to be a chilly afternoon. She told me that she was getting cold; the flag flutteringvigorously above the High Court indicated that the wind was getting stronger. While returning I asked her if she would be ok. She wanted to commute alone. I argued but in vain. I knew the reason but didn’t say anything further. Commuting had never been a lone job for her; she had been dependent on him for so long. I let her be. Another aspect of the ritual- to let go of old habits. I silently laughed at myself. Was I turning into a Shaman to follow such rituals?
As I began retreating my way back I kept thinking. How long does love last? Or it’s the beckoning of a charmed affair that perishes with time?
I notice two men hurling at each other. A familiar lunatic in the streets of Ganeshguri (sometimes I wonder where does she collect different clothes after every few days) and a horde of beggars by the temple. I get up in a waiting rickshaw and as I look at the drowning sun, some thoughts float in my mind –“There are many battles to be fought- many hurdles in the way. The future is uncertain. Yes, it hurts to have your heart broken. But then isn’t it part of the bargain when we fall in love? We rise again. All is not yet lost.”
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