Sunday, March 11, 2012

No defence against memories

“Quick! Quick! Let me get you dressed! Come here you! Arghh…”. His wife shouted at the kids.

They had come to visit London, with family. Four years of marriage and this was their first trip abroad so the level of excitement was one notch upper than the usual. He had a conference to attend there and thought that a family trip would do some good to the daily argumentative routine. Today was the day for shopping. They were supposed to go to Oxford Street. He just could not resist the thought he was avoiding since the moment he landed at Heathrow- the thought of the girl from his past who he loved dearly. And who loved him back with the same intensity. He finally let the barricades of morality break open, in his head.

He clearly remembered her address- #4, 51 Hill Street, London W1J 6SW (he used her address to tell her all the nearest stores and other details she wanted to know! Not that she could not do it herself but just because he liked doing it for her and she let him do it). He abruptly blurted out, “I got to go”. The wife was busy dressing up the kids and hearing this, she suddenly stopped- “what? Why? Where?” He reassured her, “I will meet you directly at the oxford street, in two hours. There is an urgent meeting at my office before leaving London”. She reluctantly agreed.

He took a cab and gave the driver the address which he had remembered since seven years. Although the cab was supposed to drop him straight at the address, he asked the cab driver to drop him at the green park underground station. He would walk! Getting out of the cab, he saw The Ritz. A faint laughter rose within him. This is what she used to be so excited about! She was such a movie-buff; saw Notting Hill once and wanted to come here with him and stay for a day! He fed the address into his Maps-app and set out. It was supposed to be an eight minute walk. He remembered the names of the streets. Stratton Street; then left to Berkeley square, then straight to Hill Street. She used to prattle the names of these streets whenever she was returning from college. That was time they usually were on phone and he used to be distracted with some little things of his own, yet it came as a surprise when he recognised those streets by name. 

Upon reaching Berkeley square, he glanced around- had something changed? He wouldn’t know. He could smell patisseries and panini though. He couldn’t remember if she had ever described that. Unexpectedly his throat choked- she used to walk by these streets every day! She used to blabber, sometimes describing the beauty and the gloominess at the same time- much like her. He found himself standing below the building labeled 51. How he had wanted to come there while she lived here. How they both had shared dreams of living in that house. How they had imagined making sweet love together in that room whose window, he saw, was open right now. He started to weep silently. 

He collected himself after five minutes and pushed the bell for flat number four. There was no answer. He pressed it again. He believed he would find something in her old house to calm him down. To transport him into the past. Where her scent was the only sweet fragrance he could recognise. He now marveled at her description of this place. He could now understand her mood swings and constant complaints regarding the weather. It really could get gloomy in here! His thoughts were interrupted by a voice from the door-camera. “Who is it?” No, he was NOT prepared for this. He blurted out, "Sorry, wrong floor!" 

He decided that he liked her version of the house better. He had not thought about how alien or familiar the house might seem, from inside. He loved her. He loved her in a way nobody had. She had meant everything to him once. He often used to tell her how beautiful she was. She used to playfully respond that he was biased but that never failed to make her blush. They were so lost when they were talking to each other on phone that they never could keep a track of time. They never got tired of each other’s company, bored of each other’s humour. They pushed each other’s limits and it made them broaden their horizons towards life. Both of them thought that the other one is a better person and the respect and love only grew with time and distance. It was a fairy tale. Until she came back to India, where he was.

He decided to block her from his mind, the disappointing and unhappy memories. She would always be that beautiful girl for him- who didn’t like to be called a little kid, the one who had big eyes, one who would imitate his lame guy friends and make him laugh, one who would fight with him because he could not stay awake to talk her, one who was scared of his mom, and who could never see him upset and be passive about it. If anybody would have asked him, his only regret in life would be not to have expressed his love to her the way she deserved. The things he felt, the beautiful moments he lived everyday never could come out in the form of words. It was never for one moment that his feelings were in any way inferior to hers. The difference lied in the total expression of them.

He decided to walk back. This time through the Park Lane, where she always used to get confused whether to stand and look at the beautiful swans at the Hyde Park or to stare at the swanky cars which passed by. “It really is tough to decide”, the thought amused him!
He was walking to Oxford Street, her favourite hang-out, where now his wife and kids were waiting for him to come.