The Starless Night

August 1, 2011 Off By Manjil P. Saikia

Just like the good old days when I was unconditionally happy, that day too I was reading a book. I turned to a page which had a picture of the moon against a black night sky without any hint of a star. The sight amazed me. Not because I thought it was odd, but because I remembered the last time I had seen such a sight was from the roof of the University Cafeteria. I was not alone then, I was with someone. Someone who wanted to rule the world. Someone who wanted to dance to every tune of music. Someone who was not sure if I was worth the effort or not.

I tossed away the book; I didn’t have the heart to read it any longer. There was a brilliant movie playing in the nearby theatre, and in the spur of the moment I decided to walk across the street and see if any tickets were available. Luckily enough, there were a few tickets available, and I took two of them for a show in the evening. I didn’t think who to give the other ticket to. I had no friends here, no enemies either. Like most of my adult life, I was all alone. Still, I hoped to catch someone or the other for the movie.

I was late to arrive at the theatre, and saw that the door was already closed. Just as I was about to knock, I could make out a faint figure in the hallway sitting cross legged in one of the many chairs there. I don’t know what made me to do it, but I decided to walk up to the person, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a beautiful lady. I could see her tears, but didn’t ask her the reason for them. I silently offered her a ticket. Surprisingly enough she accepted my invitation, and we walked in together to the screen.

The movie lasted an atrocious 98 minutes. I don’t know what was ‘brilliant’ about the movie, but the lady with me seemed to enjoy it, and could not stop talking about it as we made our way out. We walked for a few minutes on the streets. Till then I had not had a good view of her as my vision was failing rapidly and it took good lighting to get a hang of things. Unfortunately a movie theatre didn’t provide that. Out of courtesy I offered her dinner, and she graciously accepted. We walked into a Tibetian restaurant at the end of the street.

I took a good look at her when we were comfortably seated. She seemed familiar to me. Then I noticed that her voice reminded me of someone. I asked what her name was and what she was doing there alone. She was apprehensive at first, but maybe later realized that I meant no harm. She began her story.

She was working as a medicinal biologist in a pharmaceutical company, and today was her mother’s death anniversary. She told that she had very few friends and so she wandered alone to the movie. She couldn’t find a ticket and so was sitting in the hallway thinking about her mother when I arrived there. I could feel the pain in her voice, and decided against asking anything about her mother. But she didn’t stop there, she told that her mother was dead for about 20 years now, and that she couldn’t even remember her. But she loved her a lot. Maybe she guessed that I was feeling uncomfortable and so she changed the topic.

She asked me who I was and why I was alone. I narrated a part of my story to her. I told her about the only woman I ever loved, how she left me for someone else, and how I spent many years of my life in misery. I told her that I had not seen her for more than two decades, and didn’t even know where she lived. The girl took pity on me and asked the name of the woman I loved. When I replied, she just smiled and said, “Oh, so it was you whom my mother loved all her life.”


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