"Don't you have a home to go to?"
I dont recollect me leaving the bar. It was dark and the streets were deserted. This was the "not so respectable" part of the town. The town was new for me but it felt strangely familier. I vagely remember admiring my complete lack of fear as I walked down the road. Blank.
I woke up suddenly, terrified and sweating. It was 6:00am Sunday. It was a dream. I was terribly late for something, everybody was scolding me for being late. And I..I was running hopelessly to catch something. I knew I wont get there, but I couldn't see it leave either.
I like it when I wake up before dawn and still stay in bed. Its like everybody thinks you are asleep but you are awake and quietly thinking about stuff. basically you can daydream without feeling guilty about it.
Something abt last night was making me uneasy. I was having my beer chating with the bartender. It was late and they were closing.....
"we r always the last to leave buddy!! cheers!!! " somebody behind me said this and i raised my glass on reflex. The bartender saw me keep the glass down without the customary sip.
bartender: new to town?
bartender: where u from?
I dont know if it was the beer or the question...but it suddenly threw me back...a long time back
"To friendship...and all the hot chicks in the world". It was a familier place. all of us were huddled together on a small table. cozy. There was noise, and laughter, actually a lot of it. I dont remember the occasion but back then, we didn't need one to get together. Everywhere I went there were people I knew, friends. It was a small town and I had lived there for 25 years. ...
The alarm went off and jolted me out of my memory ride. hmm i hate it when that happens..
I woke reluctantly and got dressed.
Ah, where was coffee, and milk and some bagels too. This is why i love a hotel more than a house. Hotels take care of you no matter what, but a house demands that you take care of it first....how unfair is that!!
I brewed a nice hot cup for myself and pulled a chair to face the patio. light breeze and some tall palms swaying lazyly.....a beautiful day indeed. I have always hated my ability to find something wrong even in perfect situations. Right now the slow swaying of those trees was making me uneasy. What was it reminding me of?? Why cant we just look at a object and admire its present?
Damn!! those trees did look familier. I am very sure I have never been here before.
someone knocked on the door. I opened the door wide without even bothering to ask.
S: I'm Sorry. Am I interupting you?
M: Oh no not at all.
S: I believe this is yours... (my wallet...in her hand)
M: is there money in it?
S: well there was...
M: (smile) i will take it anyway...please come in
S: I'm glad you found your way back from the lounge yesterday
M: i usually do....coffee?
S: sure. you were pretty messed up last night.
M: well excessive intake of alcohol tends to have that effect on people.
S: some how I dont think it was the alcohol.
I stopped and looked at her...
M: what do u mean?
S: I am sorry but i overheard ur conversation with jimmy.
S: the bartender, he is a friend of mine.
M: oh ok. dont know what happened last night. guess i was tired.
S: you know, something you said last night, i cant get it out of my head
M: really? what did i say?
S: u said u cant remember your hometown anymore...
I felt a sudden pang in my heart. why did this have to come up.
M: i said that? it seems i said a lot of things i shouldn't have.
S: how long have you been traveling like this?
M: hmm i dont know. for ever it seems...
S: u always travel alone?
S: im sorry, did i put you in a bad mood? i really didn't mean to.
M: not ur fault
S: anyways i should get going now. njoy ur day and see u around.
she smiled and rose to leave.
M: please dont go.
It was such a reflex reaction that it caught myself off guard. I quickly recovered
M: I mean i am a better cook than u would guess. Let me fix u some breakfast.
S: is this provided that I dont ask any more questions?
M: haha...No. on the contrary i want you to ask questions. (I gluped down my coffee and headed for the kitchen) Its been a long time I have talked with somebody abt myself.
she walked up to the patio
S: I grew up right across the road. Been here all my life.
M: looks like a beautiful place to grow up.
S: indeed it is. and to stay on too.
S: so u like travelling?
M: i used to. i loved travelling. The mere thought of being in a completely new place made me pack my bags and get going. Unknown roads, unknown people, unknown shops and unknown surprises. That is what i lived for.
S: sounds like a very interesting life to me..
M: yup. it sure was.
S: hey! why do u keep using the past tense. u are still alive. arnt u?
i looked up and stared at her with the scarist and the coldest look i could manage
M: actually. i died a few years ago.
she clenched the sofa covers like a falling man will hold on to a rope. I could see her shudder and go pale with sheer fright.
i looked at her reaction and couldn't control myself. I burst out laughing.
M: i was so kidding.
S: god damn u stranger!! god damn u. scared the shit out of me u spook!!
M: i am very very sorry. really am. guess i have a ghastly sense of humor.
S: u bet
M: breakfast is ready.
She sat down at the table and I served.
M: hope u r not a vegetarian
S: im not and u r avoiding my question.
M: excuse me?
S: why do u keep refering to these things in the past tense. dont u like it anymore.
M: yes. i dont.
I sat down besides her.
M: I dont know what happened but somewhere along i lost that zeal, the urge or maybe the energy to do new things explore new places. And that is when I realised something which is far more scary than my jokes.
S: that u have nowhere to go back?
M: yes. that I cant stop moving now. I have nothing, nothing that will hold me down to one place. It feels like the earth has lost its gravity.
S: Well Newton might say that we stay at one place 'cause of the earth's gravity, but my grand mother had a rival theory. She used to say its the bond between people that keeps us down on this earth, newton didn't know shit. And somehow I believe her. Break that bond and u float around like u are doing right now.
I cant say that i cried. But the simple truth of her words starteled me. It was not that I didn't know this. But there are some things which you dont accept, till some else tells you the same thing but with genuine conviction and honesty.
S: yesterday you were talking about a bunch of close friends and how you had good times with them. what happened?
M: yes i have some memories of those times. but they are so distant it almost seems like a dream now. All i remember is that one by one we all seperated. There was no fight, not even a quarrel. i guess everybody got so engrossed in their own lives that we simply forgot abt each other. I wouldn't have believed that such a thing could happen if it hadnt happened to myself. "out of sight, out of mind" is a more deadly truth than we give it credit for.
S: how was the town? do u remember anything atall?
M: it was a small town. trees, lazy roads. people roaming about on the streets. everybody knows everybody. i think it was much like this town. i lived there for 25 years but never since..
S: was there nothing that made u not leave that town?? nothing atall?
M: hmm...what can possibly stop a young man of 25? fame and money, or........a girl he falls for.
M: well...he was not interested in the first two and the third, was not interested in him. (smile)
S: so u just left? and never turned back?
M: yes. that is exactly what i did.
S: my goodness!! men are such babies. this is so unbelievable. she says no and u just run way crying?
M: hey!! i didn't run...I "walked away", there is a difference. and i have never cried in my entire life.
S: you know what? the only thing that i admire in all this is ur ability to stick to ur decisions.
M: thank you
S: ur welcome. so you never found anybody after that? not even a friend? it seems u have been to litrally every city in the world.
M: never did. not a single friend. Later on i developed a fear of getting involved. Not just people, I couldn't stay in one place for more than a month 'cause i feared i would like it there. And finally when I overcame this fear it was already too late. I was so used to living with myself that I just kept doing it. Time slowly got rid of the fear and worries but it got rid of my memories, my past too.
S: hmm.....so much for ur life's story.
M: ya. so much. so what do u think abt it?
S: well i wud say little red riding hood was smarter than u
M: i know. i kinda missed the 'droping the bread crums' part. Now there is no going back.
S: oh the bread crums remind me, breakfast was delicious.
M: thank u. its been my pleasure
S: i am sorry i have to go now but you seem to have got into a better mood already.
M: thanks to you
S: that would be my pleasure (smile)
I walked her to the door.
S: well then, lets hope we will find each other the next time you r in this town.
I couldn't see her leave. Was she the one I was trying to stop in my dream this morning? I had known her for the last 30 mins, but she seemed eerily familier. I didn't want to be late this time.
M: I am not coming back.
M: that is because i am not leaving
M: i am done travelling. I know I cant go back but nobody says I cant start afresh. I have one chance to undo my mistakes. I want to settle down. stay here for the rest of my life. with u..
she took a step back. didn't look me in the eye. concerned and careful, she said
S: i really wish i could say yes stranger, but i cant do that. i am married. im really sorry, hope u understand
i could not move. i dont think i could breathe either. everything just stopped.
dont know how much time went by but the next thing i remember was that she was laughing like crazy and saying
S: now who has a ghastlier sense of humor?
that was the scariest joke i have ever heard....