A very good memory song from an old Bollywood movie – Chhoti Si Baat (1975) is : Na Jaane Kyoon, Hota Hai Yeh Zindagi Ke Saath, Achaanak Yeh Mann Kisi Ke Jaane Ke Baad, Kare Phir Uski Yaad, Chhoti-Chhoti Si Baat (I don’t know why it happens with life that once somebody has gone away from you, your heart starts reminiscing even the most trivial things associated with him / her). The same is the case with me. I could not marry the girl I was madly in love with (and she was more so with me). As destiny decided it, one day we had to bid adieu to each other with tears in our eyes and throbbing in our hearts. However as underscored in the abovementioned song, thereafter I started reminiscing even the smallest things associated with her, all our meetings whether small or lengthy and all the talks that had taken place between us. There are several days of the year when I suddenly recall in the morning itself that so and so incident had taken place on today’s date. 19th October is one such day only.
By that time, we had only become friends and not moved any further in the direction of our relationship. I had come to know that she was going out of station with her brother by the night bus (and had to travel overnight). The same evening, I was scheduled to play a Carrom match in the annual games being organized for the employees of my employer organization. As it was a doubles match, I could not opt out also because that would not have been fair towards my partner in the game. Well, the game was going to start at around 7 p.m. at the venue whereas her bus was going to leave the bus stand at around 8.15 p.m. During the day, we had talked over phone and I had told her that I was scheduled to play the Carrom match in the evening. She gave me her best of luck and told that she would be back within a week and let me know when she was back. Neither she asked me to come to the bus to see her off nor did I make any such promise to her from my side.
In the month of October, the evenings are very pleasant in North India, neither too hot, nor too cold. I reached the venue of the match well before the scheduled time and started praying that the match should not go for too long and deprive me from seeing her off on the bus (under the excuse of seeing her off, actually I wanted to see her, listen to her voice and feel the redolence sprouting from her personality). The match started almost at the scheduled time. My fingers were busy with the striker but my thoughts were running towards herself only with my eyes frequently moving towards the clock. My partner was a very proficient Carrom player who more than made up for my errors and lapses in the game. Eventually we won the match. It was around 7.45 p.m. then. Since I was less interested in winning the match and more interested in reaching that bus as early as possible, I rushed towards the bus stand without losing a single minute once the match was over.
As I reached the bus stand, the relevant bus was standing there and when I moved towards the front side of that in order to enter it if required, I saw herself sitting near a window and peeping outside. That sight was enough to recharge me completely. I reached her and both of us greeted each other. She first asked about the outcome of my Carrom match and when I told her that I had come to her as victorious in that game, her joy had no bounds. It’s a rare occasion indeed for me to find someone happier than me at my success which was not a great one by any means. But when she told me that she was awaiting me only and peeping outside the window to get a sight of myself arriving at there, then the sense of victory that found existence in my heart was even greater than that on account of winning the Carrom match. A question propped up in my heart -‘Does she love me?’ And I got the affirmative answer after exactly three months.
Since her brother had gone to buy tickets from the booking window, she could talk to me without any interruption for the next fifteen minutes till he came back and got introduced to me by herself. Meantime I told her that though I was a movie buff and watched a lot of movies, never in my life had I seen a movie with a girl and then hesitatingly asked her whether she would like to give company to me in watching a movie in theatre. When she readily approved of it, I wished I had wings and could fly in the air. After her brother’s arrival in the bus, we could not talk with that freedom and the direction of our talks turned towards routine ones (she was aiming for doctorate and going out of station to spend some time in the university and seek guidance of her coach in that regard). Finally, when the bus started off from the stand, I saw her off with a smile while standing on the road and got a smile from her in return.
I returned home with the feeling of a thrill or a sensation, feeling as if my victory in the Carrom match was followed by another victory in the game of love. Myself and my partner could not win the tournament though and got knocked out later but that ‘victory’ of myself in the game of love was followed by many more victories in the same and eventually the love blossoming in our hearts got expression. Like many other mornings, afternoons and evenings associated with this relationship; I am never able to forget that evening also whose memory itself takes my gloom away and fills my heart with enthusiasm like a gust of fresh air.