Outside, the violent wind howled and raged, howled and raged. Inside, my violent emotions were doing the same thing. “6 o’ clock, 6 o’ clock”, the alarm clock screamed and screamed. I tried to cover myself up to silence the harsh voice, but soon I gave up. “Time to wake up, I thought, “Time to go for the run”. Forcing my legs to pull my body up; I quickly went into the washroom, changed my clothes and went outside.
The grey, cloudy, mid-January sky did little to raise my spirits. Dawn was breaking, and I could see the faint, distant, red gleam of the morning sun trying to emerge out from the grey clouds that seemed to engulf it. The wind was exceptionally cold today, and I braced myself for the biting cold as I pulled my jumper away and plunged my body into action.
“The Run”, as I liked to call this daily morning ritual of mine, was a leisurely jog of 3 kms followed by a full-fledged sprint for as long as my tired, weak legs would take me. I had started this ritual about 3 months ago, and no matter what day of what month it was, or how adverse the outside climate became; “The Run” always began on time, and always concluded with utmost sincerity.
I started this practice not out of some new fitness regime or a desire to smell the fresh, morning air. I was running our of anger and hatred, and I was running away from her. And in that respect, it was doing a splendid job.
Her memories distracted me, haunted me, tormented me, reminded me. The way she sometimes smiled awkwardly at a bad joke I made; the way she blushed when I commented on her new dress; the way she walked, slightly dragging her feets along while she paced; the way her lips moved when she chatted; the way she called me out, stretching that last syllable; the way she squinted her eyes and adopted the look of a hermit in deep meditation while she worked; the way her nose flared up when she was angry; the way my heart started beating at the pace of a Ferrari even at the slightest mention of her. After everything was done and dusted, my memories of her were all that was left for me.
And I was slowly and steadily running away from them.
A few minutes into the routine my body was already adapting to the cold, even fighting back a little. I kept a steady pace, trying to concentrate on the loud EDM track blaring into my headphones. But the memories ridiculously kept up with my pace.
That day in the cafe, when I first saw her. She was wearing a turquoise blue top and black jeans. There wasn’t anything special about her, nothing that made her stand out from everyone else. But after talking to her for the first time I was deeply and irrevocably in love with her, although I didn’t realise it then. There was something about her, something magnetic, something that kept my eyes fixated on her however hard I tried to avert them. Luck had us working on the same project along with four other people; two complete strangers, who had never seen each other in previous three years of college. But we developed a camaraderie in that first fateful meeting itself.
My body was now sufficiently warmed up, and I decided to up the ante, running just short of a full-fledged sprint. Eminem was pushing me to go the limit, telling me to lose myself in the music, but the memories just refused to let go.
That day when we went to a mutual friend’s party on a farmhouse. She wore a black top that day and looked absolutely stunning. I rode pillion while she drove, constantly chatting for the whole forty minute ride, never shutting up for even a moment. She talked and talked and talked; about her friends, her family, people she hated, people she loved, things that disgusted her, things that intrigued her. And all I could do was listen. I was deeply and irrevocably in love with her, although I didn’t realise it then.
I was running as fast as I could now. Every muscle and sinew in my body were crying out in pain. My lungs were panting like that of an asthma patient, and my heart was beating at a dangerous pace. But I couldn’t stop. Now now, not when all I could think about was her, not when the emotional pain of the past was stronger than the physical pain of the present.
She had a boyfriend. She told me about him the first time we had met, in that cafe. But as I started knowing her better, I also started to develop a genuine feeling of hatred for that guy. No jealousy, no anger, just pure unadulterated anger. I was deeply and irrevocably in love with a person who herself was deeply and irrevocably in love with someone else. And as the days went by, I hated this fact more and more.
The reality of the situation was too much for me to handle, and I needed to escape. And I found it in cannabis and rock music. The reason is simple. When you smoke weed and listen to classic rock, you enter a state of trance. And in this state, you can choose what you want to see, what you want to hear, what you want to think and what you want to give a fuck about. They take away all the worries and problems that are plaguing your life and replace them with the peace, the ultimate truth of all human existence. And if there was one thing I needed most in my life at that time it was peace.
After completely wasting away one of the most important periods of my college life lamenting over someone who was never mine and had no intention of becoming one, I was broken and exhausted. My grades had fallen down, my college life was going nowhere, and I had no desire left in me to follow my dreams.
But when everything seemed to be in a downward spiral, Benares came calling.
It’s hard for the athiest in me to accept it, but a trip to the spiritual capital of the world brought me back to my senses. That first morning, as I sat on a boat in the middle of the holy Ganges, I saw the burning funeral pyres, I heard the gloomy chants, I recognised the pungent smell of burnt flesh in the air, while the morning sun slowly illuminated the vast emptiness that surrounded me on the other side. Nothing can bring about the realisation of having achieved nothing in your life and wasting away what you have than witnessing death at its most naked form, beautiful and ugly at the same time. During the long train ride back home, those burning pyres and funeral chants and the repulsive smell instilled the courage of facing the inevitable in me.
After gaining enough courage not to falter at the last moment, I went out to meet her. Before she could distract me with her talks, I blurted out everything. From my love for her to the fact that it was killing me from inside. And all she said was, “OK”.
It has been four months, and we haven’t spoken to each other since that day. She deliberately neglects me every time we see each other as if I were a stranger. I too have learnt to live with the fact that there are more things in heaven and earth than the companionship of a single person. Today, her memories are just a faint glimmer of the girl I once loved. In fact, I want to forget everything about her. But some part of me wants to keep those memories etched forever. As a wise man once said, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of the things.” I hope to see her again some day, in some new place. I hope that she won’t ignore me then, I hope she’ll talk to me. I hope she’ll see me in a new light, I hope she’ll understand me. I hope against all hopes.
Until that day, I’ll keep running away from the memories.