We attended the same college time and again.
And I’ve seen her too many times. But, not once have I talked to her.
Yet, that day, she kept staring at me, from the time our eyes accidentally met each other.
Well, I must admit!
She looked stunning that day, draped in a pink, white and golden bordered Warli painting sari, for the inter-college competition that our department hosted.
That was the day, when I even noticed that she existed as my second year junior and that was the day, our eyes fell upon each other.
I had promised myself that I’d never fall in love during my college days because relationships often ended up being a mess and I found girlfriends to be too boring. To be frank, I wasn’t in the mood for one. But, some sort of connection lingered between us.
That day, I don’t know if she found me charming, but I found her friends prying at me now and then.
‘Irritating!’ was the word I could come up with.
A bright blue shirt, black pants, neatly combed hair – that was how I saw that tall guy for the first time in my life.. in my college..
He sported the picture of a calm but jovial guy. But, it was his twinkling eyes that enticed me. His smile never faded.
He carried the attitude of listening patiently to anyone, be it a professor or his junior with experience none like him. Among other things that caught my attention was that, he was left-handed.
“Rahul!” – people kept calling him now and then for almost every help they needed!
I began inquiring and was shocked to know that he was my senior, whom I never knew all along and my friends began teasing me with him, when I expressed my interests for him.
Well, I could do nothing about it.
My blush expressed their intentions overall..
But, to make simple things worse, my friends constantly hovered around and had an eye on him. I was pretty sure he smelt something fishy…
A few days later, when I casually sauntered down the stairs (as I was sent out, for being late to the class) I saw her walking towards me. I guessed she too might have arrived late for the first hour and was loitering around like me.
But, it was only when she had crossed past me, that I noticed those few drops of tears that had painted her traumatized face.
Alarmed, I followed her until she reached the canteen, wherein she settled on one of the chairs weeping.
Queasy, I went a step further, pulled out another chair on the opposite side of the table and asked softly, “Any problem?”
Surprised to hear an unknown voice, she looked up, startled.
Her eyes had a shocking expression.
“Are you alright?” I asked her again.
“Acc..Accident.. No! No! Suicide! Suicide!” she blabbered.
I realized that she had witnessed something utterly shocking and that her throat wouldn’t choke the words out.
I saw her water bottle peeping out from her bag that was placed on the table. So, I quickly unzipped her bag, pulled it out, opened its lid and thrust it into her hands.
“Drink this first.”
A few days later, while I was travelling to college in the Ladies compartment by train, I witnessed the most brutal death on Earth.
A middle-class lady, with her baby boy sat opposite me. The boy was laughing merrily while his mother portrayed a sombre face, a few tears kissing her cheeks now and then.
A few moments later, when I plugged in my earphones to listen to my favourite song, the lady along with her son went and stood near the exit. I thought she was gonna alight soon.
That’s when this whole Earth came crashing down.
She held her baby tightly and jumped out of the train. And, as a reflex reaction, I saw through the window, only to be met with the merciless splitting of the boy, under the wheels.
I lost my breath, stumbled and couldn’t even scream. As soon as my destined station arrived, I ran higgledy-piggledy to my college crying hard.
I rushed to the canteen and set my emotions in motion. That’s when I heard him speak to me for the first time.
“Any problem?” he asked.
When I stuttered, he understood that I’d been a witness of something drastic and made me drink water first.
After a few gulps, my tears poured down again and so did my story this time.
Without interrupting, he listened, offering his sympathies in the end.
“Coffee?” he asked once I finished.
I shook my head and he left his chair.
“Whenever I’m sad or happy, coffee is my best company. Try for yourself too,” he said, returning back with two cups of coffee.
He pitched in a merry conversation from then on, to help me forget the death I had witnessed.
“By the way,” he said, “I’m Rahul.”
“I’m..” But before I could complete, he said, “Tara.”
I was taken aback.
“Aren’t you the pink-sari girl who kept staring at me a few days back?” – he winked at me.
I smiled, embarrassingly.
But, before we could speak more, the bell rang and we departed to our respective classes.
That day, when she cried innocently for having witnessed a death, I helped her smile. I comforted her and made her forget the situation for a while. And she enjoyed my company!!
That’s what mattered the most to me!
From then on, I’d wave a hi at her and she’d reciprocate it. Sometimes, she’d leave her friends and approach me for a small chit-chat and on some occasions , I’d accompany her to the railway station. But, it took her a few months to forget the pathetic situation (but, that set us talking, didn’t it?).
A few comfortable instances later (wherein she confessed that she liked me being left-handed) she felt closer to me and opened up one day that she gave up listening to her favourite song, as she was bothered, that it’d remind her of that incident.
“Shall I listen to that song along with you?” I offered one day, when we were seated comfortably in the canteen once again, during our usual coffee chats.
She hesitated.. hesitated even to plug in her earphones.
So, I snatched her smartphone and demanded her earphones. She swallowed once and thrust them, with pain in her eyes.
“Proceed,” I ordered, giving her phone back, placing one earphone in my ear and the other into hers.
She opened her Music App, scrolled a bit and pressed a song.
As, the clinking of a piano filled my ears, she inhaled deeply, set down her coffee on the table and closed her eyes, I could envision that her mind was replaying the suicide incident and saw her hands trembling.
“Tara!” I called out to her.
She didn’t repsond.
I slowly took her hands in mine and held it steadily.
‘Mazhai varum ariguri’ song slowly snuggled into my ears and I enjoyed the romantic situation, it matched perfectly for us. (The sign of rain..)
But, all she needed now was support and not romance. So, throughout the song, all I did was hold her hands while her eyes remained closed.
When the song finished playing, she looked me into the eyes, first thing when she opened hers and smiled, with a quavering “Thank you!”
I let go off her hands.
When he offered to listen to my favourite song together, my heart fluttered a bit.
After much reluctance from my side and compulsion from his side, I relented eventually.
He sensed my hands trembling and called out my name. But I didn’t respond as I badly wanted him to comfort me, So, I remained mute.
Soon enough, his hands wrapped mine and his firm hold helped me bring back my inner strength.
That second, he complimented my life. I was bold and I felt that I even had the courage to convey my love to my parents when the time is right. He wasn’t like one of my usual earlier crushes wherein the prospect of admitting the truth to my parents haunted me.
I realized he was ‘the one.’
When the song ended, I conveyed a “Thank you!” from the bottom of my heart, followed by a silent “I love you.”
The story of Rahul and Tara spread like a fire in our college. But, we both had our limits. We neither roamed off campus nor had late night calls. We complied with each others needs as we understood what mature love means.
Months flew on rosy wings and soon enough my farewell party arrived.
That day, she turned a bit melancholic. She tried suppressing her sorrow but her eyes said it all.
“Tara, Does something bother you?”
I knew she wouldn’t speak out. That’s very much her. Her mouth speaks less while her eyes speak volumes.
She nodded, playing with her chain.
Now! Now! When she meddles with her chain, that’s a sure sign that something’s disturbing her.
“I asked you if you’re fine!” I shouted in a menacing tone.
She nodded again, lying.
I quickly turned around and left the party, pretending to be angry.
“Rahul!” she called out.
I kept walking fast.
Whenever something upsets me, I’d always visit a crowded place, in hope that, observing people would take my mind off.
So, I crossed the road and sat at the bus stop. I knew she’d follow me sooner as she knew where I’d be, when I get furious.
But this time, she didn’t appear soon.
A good half hour later she exited the college with her friends and went to the nearby tea stall.
I fumed, realizing that she needed refreshments while I was angry on her. That moment, I wished I had remained single after all. What an idiot I’ve been!
I turned my gaze away from her.
A few angry moments later, a lady who was sitting beside me screamed aloud.
Dismayed, I looked at her and she pointed at something on the road. Reality hit me when I saw to where she was pointing.
Tara lay unconscious in the middle of the road, with a shattered coffee glass nearby her. My eyes sighted blood everywhere.
I took to my heels but stumbled and hit the road. A motorbike’s wheel ran over my left hand and I yelled in pain.
People who were crowded around Tara, began to flock towards me. But, I stood up on my own, pushed past them and fell near Tara.
There she lay, lifeless!
Tears clogged my throat.
“Ambulanceee!” I yelled in vain.
I knew everything was over!
She didn’t breathe, move or even struggle a bit.
I didn’t mind the pain searing in my left hand.
Help arrived soon though!
My left hand was declared inefficient anymore. And as to her..
I heard myself cry, “She’s no more!”
I heard through her friends that with the intention to pacify me with a coffee, she had crossed the road with it. But, she had missed out on an approaching car that had hit her.
She darlingly loved my left hand and took it along with her when she left me..
My merry twinkling eyes that she loved, assumed the pain that her eyes bore at one time now.
When she had witnessed a live-death, I was there to comfort her.
Now, who is there to comfort me?