THREE DAYS FROM NOW
The dormitory clearly proved to be considerably empty .The feelings got worst at night times. Still, a couple of waiting nights more before they were back. The dorm, voraciously filled on the regular routine days with the constant thick humidity inside even on winter days (lord knows why) was all filled up with empty beds and stretched blankets which hadn’t been wrinkled for the past six nights. Even the humidity was gone (even it seemed to be on the break!). Akshay could still smell the sweat except for the media whose presence was surprisingly faint. For the first time in his life Akshay really understood what loneliness actually signified. The rippling, cooling sound of the lake (exactly 165.46 yards – they had measured on one of those spring afternoons when you don’t feel like doing anything at all ; they still did though!) was instinctively the only real sensation that could be felt apart from the virtual ones of his presently absent roommates.
Winter in San Francisco is the often evanescent short time you would hope for before the summer came back. Lying underneath two blankets and dressed up in two sweaters, Akshay was lying on bed. His two arms stretched out only to meet at the back of his head which provided an extra comfortment in addition to the pillow. He had certainly ventured back to the time when he and Mellisa shared the same backyard during the playing hours back in Florida. He was 7 then and she was 6 and they nicely set up the tent (it was sticky hot inside, adding to the ants crawling through the grass and up your feet maybe, stinging sometimes. It hurts, doesn’t it?). The tent was always stuffed with the “extraordinary” accessories they preferred to say (for it was a new word, “extraordinary” changed occasionally though!) which compiled everything from a rubber band to …. um, maybe a spider man comics to aeroplanes (flying , flying , going down). They used to sit inside the tent, drops of sweat gathering on their foreheads, laughing and playing. At the end of the day, Mellisa would go and ask a new word to mama daily.
‘Mama, what’s the word of the day?’
‘The word of the day is ’ and she would take a pause and rub her nose with Mellisa’s. Then she
‘Elucidate; it means to briefly explain something’. ‘E-L-U-C-I-D-A-T-E, is it mama’?
‘It is, my love’.
‘Elucidate; to briefly explain something’.
‘That’s correct. Now what does mama get for this’?
And as the sentence would end, she would close her eyes and a seraphic kiss would land on her cheek, and as her eyes opened, there was nothing except for the shadows of the front door hinges.
Akshay would ask: ‘So what is it then’?
‘Elucidate; that is to briefly explain something’ replied Mellisa.
‘Kay then’ and Akshay would be off taking with him his stuff and switching off the battery light bulb inside the tent. Mellisa would be off to and as Akshay stepped out of her yard and made his way back to his, he would shout, ‘Elucidate’.
Mellisa would shout back ‘To briefly explain something’. And soon they closed doors. The day was off.
Akshay remembered another incident when they went to the Central Park together, a few blocks away. It was the forever favourite spot of theirs with the blissful greenery and the peaceful atmosphere. The only time Akshay had ever tried to climb a tree was back then. He was 10, he guessed. The attempt ended up in shit with a broken arm. He was quite confident with his ascent only to be ever betrayed by the top loose branch which actually portrayed itself as a strong one. He felt forever grateful to Mellisa for that day. Had she not been there, Akshay guessed he would be forever lying there, covered with neophytes and grasses. It was Melissa who got him up and almost carried him home. He was suddenly embarrassed about how rarely he did ever think of her really, almost blurring their images which now proved to be artifacts.
The year Akshay turned 12 that was in 1987 a lot of things altered. Moving from Florida to Austin was the biggest change, a change he would keep on regretting. They kept in touch though, he and
Mellisa, for the sake of the moments they once shared. The day he left Florida, passed on with their continuous weeping and sobbing. Since then on, neighbourhoods have kept on altering. 5 years. 5 cities. Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Louisiana and now San Francisco. The day before he left for Austin, he and Mellisa made a vow, a forever promise to keep in touch and hold this bond of friendship.
“Today we Mellisa Redlane and Akshay Tripathi, make this vow to forever be friends and to always be in touch. We’ll be there for each other, no matter what.” No matter what. The words rang like
a distant telephone call to his ears now. And perhaps did he go to attend the call, did his eyes slowly close, oblivious to the mustering reality which he didn’t come back upon. Not upon that night.
22 YEARS LATER
A man looking up to his mid forties but actually in the end thirties nearly fell from the chair as he saw the score on google. Again. One more time. Once again? How was it even possible? GERMANY 1 – 0 ARGENTINA. It was their third time. No, no ….. fourth, yes, yes, the fourth time. He almost thrashed the coffee cup to the floor and felt like screaming only to return to his normal scenario hiding his face with one hand, as all the staff looked at him with sheer perplexity. Returning back to the number of orders supplied on the monitor screen, he saw a football, and felt like puncturing it ( only if it was there ) but controlled his rage and let out a deep breath, after sipping a drop of the leftover coffee and set back to work, his mind still full of questions. ‘How did this happen?’ ‘And that too in extra time?’ ‘How did Messi play?’ ‘How did they (Germany) play?’ ‘And how did that Gotze or whatever (whose name he had never heard of) come up with the goal? People don’t ask so many questions even on a person’s death. Well he did. Akshay slapped himself to make himself calm and focused. Mr. Lemman, who sat at the desk, adjacent to him, looked at him with curved eyebrows, his puzzlement clearly visible in his eyes. Akshay gave a quick, reluctant smile and turned back. It’s been years now he has been working for Amazon before his previous work at a start-up company.
6:30 PM. Time to go home. Seattle, at this time of the hour was more or less crowded due to the returning office crowds. Strolling through them (a sheep within a flock; that’s what he felt like) he crossed the zebra crossings and subways only to pass the Space Needle and The Museum of Pop Culture. The weather at that hour had been overwhelmingly better than the past four days, which was exceedingly rainy. Even the mobile network was horrific and apparently no calls or messages were received in the past four and a half days. And this almost landed him onto trouble when he hadn’t
known about a forthcoming team meeting only to be informed to him by Jason, who personally came to his house to convey the news. As Akshay entered his apartment on the sixth floor (the building was 27 storeyed), he swooped the keys out, from under the ‘welcome’ doormat, opened the door, closed it and turned on the lights, an email tinkled on his brand new iphone 6.
Delighted after hearing this sound after four days, he hurriedly took out the phone which said ‘You have an email from [email protected]’ His face showed all the curves of uncertainty as he hesitantly clicked on the mail. It opened.
How are you? I guess you must be wandering who I am. It’s been 22 years, right? Or maybe 23. Remember me? Mellisa Redlane from Florida. Your old school neighbour? I was so lucky to find you in the city. You must be pretty shocked as to from where I got your email ID (and also your number). If only you remember who I am.
“It’s been 22 years right? Or maybe 23.” Akshay did remember. There wasn’t any mistake. Not today. Not now. The email continued….
I had been browsing through the phone book trying to find out a friend’s number, did your name trigger an impulse through the emotions. That was two months ago. Then began the search. The endless curiosity wrapped up in a combination of uncertainty whether it was truly yourself ( I had always had the doubt) really stung me very hard. Frankly speaking, it’s been so long, it doesn’t even seem like real now. Those times we shared. Trying to work out, I got the luck of my life as Andrew Mason, your office turned out to be my Facebook Friend. Andrew and me were in the same high school. This ubiquitous splendid link paved the way. I searched out for you in Facebook and had my doubts removed. That was yesterday. Those eyes, how can I forget them? I had no doubt as I saw them. Whatever, you’re maybe thinking why I didn’t call. You’re in Seattle, so you probably know, the network was out. I am planning to meet you soon (so many stories to be told and heard). Real soon. I found out from Andrew your address and your working hours. It seems like you come back at around 7:00 right? (if your office ends at 6:30 as stated by Andrew). As for me, I plan to meet you three days from now. At your place. At 7:30 in the evening. I may want to take risks, if the network doesn’t come back. If it does, though, I’ll be waiting for a reply (eagerly). Take care.
Your’s truly, Mellisa
As Akshay went about to an illuminating, rapid journey to the past, it felt a lot more than the sounds below and on. A timeline of photographs paved the way. The tick tocking of the clock seemed to be at par with the scenic setbacks.
The journey agreed to a full stop, zooming out to the reality as ………..
There was a hesitant sound (he could tell) of the lingering calling bell.