I had started off late that morning and was in great dread of scolding.Ah, not because I had to reach early but because I had not completed the tasks given to me by my group mates. OK, let me start from the very beginning. The incident I am talking about occurred while I was pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma course in Advertising and Public Relations from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. A majority of people like to use the abbreviation and call it IIMC, but I’ve always used the institute’s name in its entirety rather than using an abbreviation.
I boarded the Metro rapid transit simply because it happens to be much faster than the buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). No, I have no intentions whatsoever of tarnishing the DTC’s reputation. I am saying this just because of the fact that it happens to be the truth. It took me an hour to reach Hauz Khas from Rajouri Garden. My college happens to be located near the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s East Gate in Hauz Khas. It was 8:50 am by my watch and I had reached my college just in the nick of time. I wasn’t sweating at all perhaps because it was a chilly December morning. It was a cold day. The sky, in its entirety, was covered with clouds. Everything that came across the eye had a dull gray tinge attached to it.
Everything was quite still and solemn. I ran my eyes around the campus and then made my way to my classroom. My classroom was there on the 2nd floor. I took the stairs and made my way to the classroom. Usually, there used to be quite a lot of hustle and bustle in and outside the classroom but surprisingly, that day everything was as cosy and calm as a lazy Sunday morning. The entire room was filled with the smell (or the so-called fragrance) of the room cleaner No one was there to be seen in that room except me of course. An empty classroom greeted me as I, amid silence and solemnity, entered into the classroom.
The hour hand of the clock pointed at 9 and the minute hand had reached 12. The arms of the clock were making an angle of 90 degrees. It was 9 AM. The entire classroom was engulfed in a blanket of silence. A sense of stillness and motionlessness had covered almost everything in that room. I was sitting right there on the first seat. There was a computer lying there on the table in front of me. The computer was not getting started and a set of jumbled wires failed all my attempts to switch it on.
Finally, after several hits and misses, I was able to switch it on but, as luck would have it, the wifi wasn’t working.It is here that a thought just flew through my mind. The institute’s infrastructure was completely synonymous to me, completely useless (just kidding:). I barged out of the room and made my way to the canteen in order to have a hearty cup of coffee.Down there, in the canteen, the smell of cooking oil could be felt. Samosas and bread pakoras were being prepared. The sweet smell of Gram flour or Besan had completely hypnotized me. I made my way to the counter and ordered a cup of coffee. My eyes lit up when I saw coffee being poured from the kettle into the paper cup.
I sat down and started staring at the cup. I badly needed coffee. Black, just like my soul. The yawns kept on coming. I wanted to sleep, not because I was tired, but because of the fact that my life had the tendency to fall apart if I remained awake. Well, I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. I, in all fairness, would like to believe that their brains must be cleaner. I’m not a very good sleeper, but I’m trying to put in a few extra hours every day in order to get better. Well, that’s the kind of hard worker I am.
Had anyone seen me having coffee, he would have certainly compared me to a man who was trying to savor the taste of coffee, but I was, in fact, savoring, or rather trying to savor the whole morning, trying to catch it, pin it down and keep it safe before all those precious moments became yet another memory.
And then through my mind, without reason or understanding, flashed some sepia-tinted memories. I started glancing at some of the moments in my past and I could see them growing so vividly that all the intervening years seemed so brief and unreal. My thoughts started overpowering me. My mind began running riot. As I sat there in the canteen, my wits and senses were in a state of turmoil.
Out of the ruins of my godforsaken brain, emerged a face. I remember that face. It was the face of a girl, the girl I had met during the days of graduation. Her face symbolized a different sort of charm, a sort of melancholic charm to be precise. She was beautiful. To be very honest, she wasn’t beautiful in the classical way for she didn’t possess golden flowing curls and nor did she possess the skin made of ivory. She was short, nearly five feet four inches tall.(she was shorter than me :)). She looked like any other girl of her age, but she was quite stunning in her ordinariness. Everybody, including me, wanted to be with her. Boys desired her and the girls courted her friendship.
I too, like everybody else, desired her companionship and company. She kept her promises and that is exactly what I liked about her. One fine evening, while having one of those leisurely conversations on Facebook, I asked her to accompany me to the nearby coffee shop ( for a date supposedly) and she jokingly replied, “Yes, why not?” I loved her company and her presence. I wanted to drown in her eyes. It wasn’t that I was chasing her all the time, but it was something about her which drew me closer to her, inch by inch.
Diving down into the memories of my past reminded me of the promise she had made. It was at this very moment that I went to the counter and ordered another cup of coffee (I hadn’t finished the first one). I lifted both cups simultaneously as the glimpses of her face kept flashing before my eyes.
She had promised to have a cup of coffee with me, but she must have forgotten about her promise perhaps because she used to remain occupied with friends. She must have forgotten about me because I was nothing more than a friend.
There was something about her that disappointed me. Although she had never-ever taken me for granted, whenever I used to stare at her with my heavy eyes, she used to question me instantly.
Semesters kept on passing but our coffee date could never materialize. I strongly believe that it could never materialize just because I did not believe in bunking classes. She, on the contrary, loved spending her day out of doors.
Both of us used to complement each other (Well, that is what I’d like to believe).Okay, let me explain it this way. When we prepare a cup of coffee, the first thing we need is coffee powder, which, without milk and sugar holds no value. In the simplest of words, both of us were like the ingredients used for making a cup of coffee. I was the dark-brownish coffee powder and she was like milk and sugar. When milk, sugar and coffee powder are mixed together, these three ingredients give birth to a delicious, strong and a hearty cup of coffee, but coffee powder, without milk and sugar, has no value.
Coming back to both those cups of coffee that happened to be lying in front of my very eyes. The feeling of warmth began ebbing. Sleep held me tightly in its grip, but I had the power to resist. It feels helpless if you have a cup of coffee in your hand and you start yawning.
The next thing I remember is nothing but her eyes flooding with questions when both of us had finally managed to take out time in order to have coffee. Back in the days of graduation when studying used to be a mere formality for the sake of getting attendance and going to college meant nothing but sitting in the canteen and stuffing your mouth with Maggi, I had somehow managed to take her with me to the college cafeteria and ordered 2 cups of coffee with a couple of chocolates. Ah, coffee and chocolates, both of them were her guilty pleasures.
While I was having coffee with her, I realized that coffee is a lot more than just a drink. It was a way of spending time with her. It was a never-ending moment. The moment coffee fell into my stomach, there was a commotion. Ideas began marching like the battalions of the grand army. To her as well, coffee was way more than just a drink; it was a moment of pleasure. Both of us believed that coffee made us severe, stern and philosophical.
Coming back to the present, my cup of coffee had taken me back in time. It reminded me of the friendship we shared. Her friendship too was pretty much like a hearty cup of coffee: Strong, sweet and energizing. And then, I realized that her friendship was like quicksand, the more I kept on falling into it, the harder it became to get out of it.
There was a thing about our friendship, It couldn’t be described in words. It brought up emotions that ran right from agony to ecstasy. It inspired me to accomplish some of the craziest and the most improbable feats. Her friendship was a formidable force as it made me happier than I had ever been and, at times, it made me sadder than I had ever been. I could pretty much recognize the emotions associated with our friendship, but finding words to describe those emotions was quite a daunting task.
Loving someone ( Couldn’t you guess it?) is quite a dangerous state of affairs to be in. It was pretty clear to me that she didn’t feel the same way as I felt for her, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the fact that as much as I couldn’t force her to love me, I couldn’t force myself to stop loving her either. While we were having coffee that day, we started having a conversation. And this was not the first time we were having such a conversation. We had such conversations almost every day. The conversation is as follows:
She: What’s wrong with you?, You seem to be lost.
Me: I don’t know how to tell you but I like her
She: Then talk to her. You don’t need an invitation to go and talk to her, do you?
Me: I’m a bit incredulous, she would never pay heed to a guy like me
She: Don’t say that!
Me: I just want to tell her how I feel, that’s all I want
She: Then go and tell her, it is as simple as that
Me: She won’t like me. I’m pretty much certain
She: How, on earth, can you be so sure?
Me: I can just tell, it’s an intuition
She: Well, just go and tell her. We’ll see what happens after that
Me: What should I say? I tend to run out of words when I see her :)
She: Well, tell her how much you love her
Me: I’ve already told it to her.
She: What do you mean? (perplexed)
Me: I’m always with her and I tell it to her almost every single day
She: Ah, I can understand how you feel. I’ve had similar sorts of problems. By the way, who wouldn’t love a person like you?
Me: I can’t tell you her name
She: Okay, leave it. Just tell me are you going to talk to her?
Me: Well, I just did :)
The next thing that I remember is gifting her pen, A Platinni rollerball pen. I couldn’t think of a better gift. To be very honest, it was the first and the only instance when I gifted something to a girl. Ah, my cheeks had turned red. I am a bit shy. Girls aren’t the sole custodian of this precious commodity called shyness J. The reason I had gifted her a pen was pretty simple ( that is what I believe). I had absolutely no right to force my love and feelings onto her. I had told her that I loved her, but the rest was completely dependent upon her. The reason I had gifted her a pen was quite simple: I had written her name all over the pages of my book. So, I wanted her to write my name (herself) on the pages of her book, but that is something that couldn’t be forced.
Well, I don’t know whether I should be saying this or not but I felt like a fool when our conversation ended. A couple of years have passed since the day I told her that I love her and what followed the conversation was a box full of silence. It took me months and years to understand that this too, was nothing but a gift. A lot of answers are still awaited.
Okay, So, coming back to both those cups of coffee which were lying motionlessly in front of my eyes. And then, out of nowhere, my smartphone started buzzing which made me realize that the splendour had come to an end and I must go back to reality. I quickly finished both the cups and made my way upstairs, but just before leaving, I turned back in order to have a final and a rather prolonged gaze at both the empty cups which were lying there on the table like tiny effigies of wax.
I could feel a solitary tear running down my eye, onto my cheek. I just wiped it off and smiled. Couldn’t you notice? She was always there with me. I felt like she is holding me tightly and I am holding her tightly. That was something peaceful, completely peaceful. It was like the feeling of sleep with the only difference being the fact that both of us were awake in it together.
And then, one last thought flew through my mind out of nowhere. I just realized that both of us couldn’t be separated. We were pressed against each other. We weren’t bound together by any formal relationship like marriage, but simply by the harmony of our hearts and even death couldn’t undo us. She was watching me, my beloved sunshine, as I made my way into tomorrow. Wondering what sunshine is? Well, that is what I call her affectionately. :)