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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Memory


The same spot. The usual table. She sat at the coffee house with a gloomy look.

Nothing in particular bothered her, and yet everything seemed to be jumping on to the wrong track.



It was raining outside.
She looked out of the window, tracing the trail of a raindrop. It followed a strange pattern, that raindrop. No path in particular, yet destined to fall on the ground.
She connected with that drop.
Connected with how the raindrop, like herself, fought the battle of being important versus been left as insignificant..
She turned her gaze to her table, staring aimlessly at it, glancing at the same small doodles that had been present on it, before she had become a regular customer.
She scanned through them, not impressed by any. She stared at the table with such intensity, as if expecting answers to her problems from the table itself.
That's when she saw it.
A new one. A tiny, fresh doodle.
Beautifully written, with a bold blue pen. The words seem to follow the rules of cursive writing and yet the whole sentence seemed to be mocking her.

"When you feel low, I'll give you a hug"
A tiny cartoon stared back at her, wording it's action.

Her emotions blinding her, she scribbled something furiously, right below that doodle and got up and left, a sense of disgust, anger and hopelessness overcoming her.




This isn't how she'd always been. She was usually one of the most cheerful people to be around, always a bundle of joy, bringing smiles to people's faces by her sheer presence. Even in the most adverse situations, she would look up, smile and keep on walking, as if unfazed by the hardships faced by other mortals.
She worked two jobs, had a loving family back in her hometown and a pet dog, Timothy, who she adored more than her life. She was the kind of girl one could expect to see dancing gleefully in the rain in the middle of the night.


But that was before. Only a memory now.


She'd first seen him at the park.
She used to go to the park every evening, right when she changed shifts, to go over from her first job to her second. She'd go and sit on the bench, her favorite bench, the one along the track that ran through the park. She'd sit there, everyday and observe the hundreds of people that passed her. Some were lost in their own worlds, completely oblivious to her presence, others had come to recognize her, they would even greet her warmly and talk to her for a bit. She would sit and observe all these people, sit and take in all the tiny details. The old couple from down the street, who came every day at five, walking hand in hand, as they looked each other in the eyes and smiled, reminded of their exuberant youthfulness that now remained only within their hearts. The little boy from the big mansion uptown who came and sat with her and had her read a story to him every other day. The homeless man from the streets who shared a sandwich with her everyday, probably the only proper meal he got to enjoy throughout the day. The retired colonel who lived in the little grey house behind the park, who sat with her and told her war stories, not of blood and gore and gruesome killings, but of love and friendship and hope, as they did the daily crossword together.

There were countless others, who came to the park. Some saw her, others did not. She saw them all.
She smiled at every single one of them.


That was before. Only a memory.


It had been a Friday evening. The end of a long, tiring week. To most people in the city, it meant a weekend of fun, relaxation and partying to look forward to, but not to her. She had her studies to catch up with. One couldn't become a lawyer without putting some serious hard work into it.
She faced the park entrance. Something felt different.
It was her instincts speaking again. She had learnt a long time ago to trust her instincts, they had seldom been proven wrong.
She walked in anyways, to her bench, her favorite bench and sat down. The old couple passed right by her. The wife seemed to be having a little trouble walking, she noticed. Her husband had a concerned look on his face as he helped her maintain her balance and she couldn't help but notice the hint of sadness that had crept into their eyes.

She pulled out the paper bag with the sandwiches from her purse and almost immediately, as if on cue, Matt showed up. They sat and ate the sandwiches, not looking at each other, not saying a word, simply content to enjoy the pleasures nature had gifted them with that they took in with all the senses. He got up and left with a silent thank you, not said out aloud, but reflected in his eyes.

She had a long weekend ahead of her, she thought to herself, wondering how she was going to finish the course she'd set aside for these two days and find enough time to pick up new curtains for her apartment.

That's when she saw him.

In an old and worn out, but rather comfortable looking pair of jeans, coupled with a blue sweatshirt, he came shuffling down the path, his face hung low, his eyes lowered, staring at the same spot two feet in front of his legs the entire time. He'd almost walked past her when he suddenly stopped.

He turned around to face her, she wasn't sure whether to be scared or not. Before she could figure out what was happening, he was holding a flower in front of her, seemingly pulled out of thin air.

It was a tiny white lily. She stood there, stunned, at a loss for words. And then he smiled. He had the most infectious smile in the world. She'd never seen a smile like that! It was a smile that could rid you of sadness, turn your misery into joy, make you smile while you were crying, make you feel glad to be alive. That smile could make autumn turn to spring, it could make mountains seem easy to scale, it could melt the coldest of hearts, it could make one fall in love.
Almost as if on its own, her hand stretched out, accepting the flower, her face returning the smile.

And though most people found the story a little too far-fetched and romantic, filled with too much drama, that's how it had been. That's how they'd first met.

They'd met again the next week, and the day after that and the day after that too. Every day, she would wait for him on her favorite bench. At half past five, he would show up, always clutching onto a lily that he presented to her with a flourish and the smile, that smile.


That was before. A memory.


He worked a job at a coffee house downtown, which he took her to one weekend. They had the best chocolate muffins ever, he told her.
She sat at a table overlooking the window, from where she could observe the people who passed her.

There was a crash as the door swung open and a petite young girl ran into the room. Her red eyes made it quite evident she'd been crying.
She was wearing an apron just like his, which indicated she worked here too. He took one look at her and strode right up to the girl.
She was almost whimpering now, apparently about to burst into tears all over again.

He grabbed onto her shoulders, pulled her face up so she was looking at him and said to her in what was a whisper, but seemed to reverberate around the room louder than any other sentence muttered in the vicinity, "Don't cry? Remember what I told you? When you feel low, I'll give you a hug", following this up with a hug that the girl almost sank into.

She'd been seeing all this from her table at the window. She knew what was happening, but she wasn't sure if it wasn't just a dream.

She had fallen in love with him.

He came and sat with her, bringing with him freshly baked muffins, two cups of coffee and his infectious smile. They sat there as they ate and drank. They talked about almost every topic under the sun and laughed together at the most absurd things imaginable.
He showed her the doodles on the tables, drawn by customers as they waited for their muffins to be popped out of the oven. There was one of a dog running around in circles trying to catch its own tail below which the artist had scribbled the word 'Life'. Another one was of a sign which proclaimed 'Studies. Sleep. Life. Choose any two.' She was rather amused how this particular doodle hit so close to home.


Before. A memory.


Why had it been him? It was supposed to be her. She was the one who hadn’t been careful. She was the one who had been at fault. Why had he paid the price?
She was furious at the old man who’d been driving the car, she was enraged at herself, she was mad at her boss for giving her a leave on that day, she was angry at the world for taking away from her the one thing that meant the world to her.

The funeral was a quiet affair, but it was attended by hundreds of people. Not a single one of them was related to him, yet they all spoke of him as if he was one of the closest people in their lives.
She stood by her own, in a dark corner, refusing to accept the fate life had handed out to her.
It wasn’t just, it wasn’t right, it simply wasn’t fair.


Before. Memory.


The same spot. The usual table. She sat at the coffee house with a gloomy look. Nothing in particular bothered her, and yet everything seemed to be jumping on to the wrong track.

It was raining outside.
She looked out of the window, tracing the trail of a raindrop. It followed a strange pattern, that raindrop. No path in particular, yet destined to fall on the ground.
She connected with that drop.
Connected with how the raindrop, like herself, fought the battle of being important versus been left as insignificant..
She turned her gaze to her table, staring aimlessly at it, glancing at the same small doodles that had been present on it, before she had become a regular customer.
She scanned through them, not impressed by any. She stared at the table with such intensity, as if expecting answers to her problems from the table itself.

That's when she saw it.
A new one. A tiny, fresh doodle.
Beautifully written, with a bold blue pen. The words seem to follow the rules of cursive writing and yet the whole sentence seemed to be mocking her.

"When you feel low, I'll give you a hug."
A tiny cartoon stared back at her, wording it's action.

Her emotions blinding her, she scribbled something furiously, right below that doodle and got up and left, a sense of disgust, anger and hopelessness overcoming her.

Etched underneath the doodle, her words shone under the overhead lamp.
“I need a hug, I’m finally coming to you to get one.”


Memory.





Credits: The combined genius of these two, right here.
I'd also appreciate if you could comment with your interpretation of the story itself.


6 comments:

  1. First of all, I'm in love with both of you. When I began reading I was actually thinking, oh my! he knows the thoughts and actions of a girl so precisely.
    This is just plain beautiful.

    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You flatter me too much. That being said, thank you!

      And I guess the credit for being able to understand those thoughts and actions should technically go to Aditi, I've observed most of it in her.

      By the way, I want to know how you interpreted the ending?

      Delete
  2. Well...she went ahead to join him.. Meaning...she died??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The story might be mine, but the interpretation is entirely up to you.

      Delete
  3. Ah! That was amazing! :) You made the story more beautiful by your way of saying it and the ending is so good that it feels like this is the only ending the story could have had! Great job :) You have a new regular follower :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have to get rid of this writer's block and start writing again, it seems!
      Thanks for all the compliments! :D

      Delete