She Was Here , Always…..

 

She  was  here, Always…..

She  was  there  with me  again tonight . Even  from   a distance, I could  see  her  very  clearly. Her  face was gleaming like white marble   in  the  light of  the  full  moon. I could not take my eyes off  her  for  even a moment. As  she  came closer our eyes  met  and  a  sweet  smile  erupted  from  the left corner of her   soft  lips. She always smiled like that. Slowly the smile stretched to the other  side of  her  lips  and then  to her chubby cheeks.  She had  not  changed,  even  after  so many  years. She was tall, slim  and    gifted   with  beautifully crafted  features . This  was  coupled with a fair complexion and a sweet voice .Today again  I was   stupefied  for  almost  five minutes, as always, and    could  not  utter  a word.  I finally   got up  from  the  bench  and  walked  towards  her slowly , as though   still in a stupor of her  beauty.

“How  are  you?” I  said finally coming out of my momentary trance.

“Oh , I am  doing fine, and you?” she asked with a smile.

“Been busy  with my  college studies.” I  said  trying  to be   as truthful  as  ever.

“Not missing me? Or  still feeling  shy to  admit it ?” She asked.

“I  have  been  thinking  of you  off  and  on. What are  you doing by the  way?” I answered.

“I  am  also  in  college” she  said.

Her presence itself  was  so  soothing that I  just  wanted  time  to  stop here  forever. Love  filled  my heart all over again. We  walked  in  silence  for a while. But before I  could make any conversation   she  suddenly turned  around  the corner and   vanished  into  oblivion. I  frantically  looked  for  her  in every  possible direction. There  was  so much  about  which I  wanted  to  talk with her. There  was  so much I wanted  to say. But  she  wasn’t   there in  the  garden anymore.

My  eyes  opened.  I realised  it  was the  same  dream again.  I  was in  my hostel room  and  there was no garden  around.  Raga was  gone once  again. I had  once  again lost  my  chance  to  express my feelings, just  as  I  had  missed it  before  we  parted  after school.  I stayed  in  the  bed for  some  time more,  lost  in  the sweet   memories  of  my school  days .

It had  been almost  three  years  since I  had  left  school  but  the imprint  of Raga  would not fade. My  mind  would  return  back  to  it  every now  and  then. And then for  hours my  mind  would  flutter  in  the  sky  like  a  bird  looking for   its mate. It  was  not   just  a  memory  but  an indelible mark which  I  was  finding difficult  to  erase. I  had  been  the  victim  of  the   first  infatuation of  my  life.    It  had  been  there  for  three years  now. And  no  one  except me knew  about it. It  wasn’t   just a  crush, it  had  taken over my  life.  I  had  heard  so  many  stories  from  my  friends   about  their  first loves , their  first  infatuations  and  how  they had nurtured  its memory   for  a  long  time  or  at  least  till  they   had  their  second  one. My story  was  different; as  there  was  no  space for a  second  love  in  my life. The  best part   of  it all this  was her  continued  appearance in  my  dreams  at  regular intervals.  And the dream repeated itself   whenever  I tried  to  keep  her  out  of  my memory. At  times  I  even  felt  that  her  thoughts  had started  to affect  my   studies seriously. Her thoughts  had  invaded   every  activity of  my life. I could  not  keep  myself away  from  it. I tried lots of  other  diversions to  take  my  mind off  her. But whenever   I   even  partially  succeed, she  would re-appear in my  dreams.

This  was the  the  third  dream  of her after I had  left school.  I  had  lost  touch with almost  all my  classmates.  I did  not  have  her  address  because I  had  never  visualised  the sort of  whirlwind  it would bring into my  life  when I  would go   away  from  her.  After  the  second  dream  I   contacted  some  friends  in the city   but  they  too had  no  clue  about  her. She  had  probably  changed  the  city  due  to her   father’s transfer. One of my friend  gave  me  an   old address he  had  of  hers.  So one day   I wrote  an  innocuous  letter, lest  someone  else  lay his  hand  upon it. And then  I kept  waiting for  a  reply   for months. A  year  passed by  and  I did  not  receive  any communication.

I  had  first seen  Raga  when  she  had  taken  admission  in  class  XI in  our school   and  at  the  very  first  glance I  fell  head  over  heels for her. In  my  eyes  every  part  of  her was  specially  sculpted. Every  word she  uttered  had  a  new  musical  note in  which  I  could  get  inundated and  weave  a  song  around  it. Every  glance  of  her towards  me  was   like  a  big  hug  which I would preserve  for  days,  or  till  I  got  a  second  look. The day  I  did  not  see  her  in  the  class  would become   a  gloomy  day. My permanent seat was   on the desk right  behind  her   so  that  she  was  never away  from  my  gaze.  My  every  action was  to draw  her  attention.  Even my success in  studies  was with the aim  to  impress her. I loved the weekdays and hated  Sundays, for Sundays  took  me  away  from  her.  Whenever  she was  absent  on grounds of  ill health,   I  would  secretly  pray   to God  for  a miracle  to make  her  well  soon.   God mostly listened  to  my prayers  and  she  would  be  back  in class  the very  next  day. She  was  a  very good  orator  on stage   and   whenever  there  was  a  competition in school , she  would  win and I  would  generally  get the  second position. I would  feel  happy   for her.  But once,  in order  to  impress  her , I  prepared so  well  that  I   won  the debate  competition. I thought  she  would  come  over and  congratulate  me as  I  used to  do  whenever she  won . But  she  didn’t. Instead she  ran  towards  the  class  and cried on  her  desk. When  I  saw  her  crying I decided  to  not   to  take  part in any competition thereafter. The school  days  passed by   this  way  but  I never gathered  enough courage   to   convey  my  real  feelings.

About five  years   passed after school  trying to  locate her. The friends I contacted   knew  nothing about  her  present whereabouts.  Instead  they started teasing me.  They  advised  me  to  forget  her  as  she probably  had  moved away.  So I kept  quiet  about  it  and  started  to concentrate upon  my  studies.  Some more time passed this  way , trying to  find clues. But none arrived. I thought I  had  finally been   able  to  push her  out of my mind. But  it  was  not  to  be.

Then  one night  she  suddenly re-appeared  in  my  dream. I was  back in the  garden again and there  she  was,  at  a  distance, in her  usual form.  I was captivated once again  by  her  presence. I  could  feel  myself  going numb. She  seemed  to  be  glowing  as  a goddess of  beauty. I  kept  looking  at  her , totally spellbound for  quite  some time.  Eventually I  got  up  from the  bench   and  moved  towards  her. She  did  not move  away. We  walked  together for a while.

“How are  you , Raga?” I  asked.

“I am  fine . And  you?” she  answered.

“I have  got a  job and it  keeps  me  busy”. I said.

“I  am also working  as  a teacher  in  a  school”. She  replied.

We  were  ambling   in the garden and  there  was  nobody  else around. I was  thinking , should  I tell  her  about my inner  feelings now?  Though  I  had  a  job, it  was   too early  to  marry. What  if  she  takes  offence  to my  advances? Such questions  kept  crisscrossing my mind.

In order  to make  some conversation I simply  asked her, “How are  your  parents and  sisters?”

“They  are  fine” she  said.

“They   want me  to get  married soon”. she added , looking into  my  eyes.

“Is  it?”I blurted out.

There  was  a sudden  knock  at  the  door and  my  eyes opened. I  was dazed  by  this  sudden  tsunami  in  my  dreams. A  tear  rolled  down my eye. Does  she  really  exist   somewhere?  Waiting for  me?  This   question began to  haunt  me. Why could I  not  express  my  feelings  even  today.  What  she  told  me-  was that  a  hint for me to act now?

But where  was she ?

I  got up from  the  bed and moved towards  the  lone  window  of  my  room and  looked  at  the  vermilion  sky  of  dawn. My eyes  closed  . A  soulful prayer  came out   of  my heart.

Please bring  her  to  me , or help me  forget  her. Save  me  from  this  torture. Please, oh God,  have  mercy  on  me.”

As  before, I  was not  myself for many days . I was  in  a  different  world thinking  of  her  all  the  time. My  work  began  to  suffer. I tried  to talk  to  some  friends   about  our classmates in general  but none seemed  to  have  a clue.  Every day  was  becoming difficult.   I  gave  up  after a  month of futile  chase, but continued  to pray  to  God.  Nothing  happened.

Another  year  went by. I  was  prepared  for  the dream to  re-occur.  I  knew  she  would  come . Every night,  before  I  slept  I  thought  of  her, thinking  she  would  come in my dreams  and I would   tell her about  my  feelings  and  inquire  of  her  whereabouts. Some months  passed  by  but  she did  not  appear. Then one  day  I  was  having  an  afternoon nap,  and  I saw  her.

Yes,  she  was  there ,  but  she was standing  far away  from me, at the other  end  of  the  garden. So far away   that I could  barely   see  her  face. But I  could recognise     her even  from  that  distance. I  tried  running  towards  her but then  realised  someone was there  with her. They seemed to  be  in  conversation. When  I  got  near  her he  was  gone.

She  smiled    at  me and  my  heart   melted  once again.

“ I  have  got  married.”  she  said looking  as  bright as  before.

“To whom?” I asked .

There  was  no  answer.

“Does  this mean  you will not come to this  garden ever  again?” I  asked , feeling dejected at  what  I had  seen.

“Do  you want  me  not  to?” She  asked.

“No. I  want you to come. I  feel very  nice meeting  you”. I  said.

“Why? ”  She  smiled as she asked.

What  should  I  say now?  I  thought to  myself- She  is  married  but  to me  she  was still  the  same  Raga , the marble  goddess she  was in school. I  wanted  her  to  be here  with  me  in this  garden for some   time more  .  Yet  I   said  nothing  to  hold  her  back.

“Because  I  used  to  like  you  in school”.  I   managed  to  say.

“And you  mean   you  don’t  now?” She   smiled  and  I   once again  swayed  to  the  bliss of  her beautiful  eyes. I knew she  liked me.  I got  up  to say the  words  I always wanted  to  but saw her move  towards  the shadows  in the distance.

And my eyes opened.

This time  the excruciating  aftermath of  the   dream  lingered much longer  than  usual. I recommenced my search for  her. I  had  to find  her. It  was getting  too much for  me  to  bear.  I took some leave   from work and  reached  my  school. Checked  the  records  but  could not  find  her   address. She was  not  registered  in the  School  Alumni  list  either. By now the  internet  had  also  evolved  but  it  could not  give  me   any clue. I  shot  some blind emails at  anticipated addresses  like ragabiswal@hotmail.com, ragabiswal@yahoo.com  and waited.  All  my  efforts  proved  fruitless. I  was  annoyed  at  the Gods  and  so  I   prayed with angst  and   lamented why I  was  being  put through  this torture. I  also   visited  a  renowned  dream analyst  in  the  city  and after listening  to  my tale  of  love  and  loss   she  opined  that  though  this  was  a  very  strange  case , keeping  all  the  emotional factors away , it’s  was  simply  my  own pent  up  feelings which  I   could  not  convey to  her  at  the  appropriate time. This put an end to my turbulence. I  walked  back home  in silence and  stopped  my  hunt  lest  I  get  declared   a nut.

Whenever  I  dreamt of her   again,   time  stopped for me . Between  the  dreams,  the  time  would  fly   and  I  would wait  for the  next  glimpse  of  her. I  was living from dream to  dream.

Some more  years  passed.  I  got  married . I had  a  beautiful,  caring  wife. My  memories of   Raga were slowly   fading away   but  were not  totally  obliterated yet. I  would  not  think of  her everyday  but  whenever I  visited  some  social  sites  on  the  internet my  hands could  not stop  but  type  her  name in  the  search  box.  It  must have  been almost  fifteen  years  since we  had  parted at  school.   One  day  I  hit upon  an  old family album  and  found  a  class photo and  there she  was – the  marble  beauty,  as  glorious as ever. I  could  not  sleep for several  nights. My  fading  memory rekindled. I  wanted  to meet  her  again. Many a times my  eyes became  moist while  thinking about  her  and  the  dreams  of the past. A single  glimpse  was  all  I   wanted  now. She  also would  have  grown  up  like  me, happily  married somewhere  with beautiful  kids . I knew  all  that. But  all these  arguments  of  my   head   were not  acceptable to  my  heart. I  began  to  stay  aloof and  talk  less  to   my  wife. I  would  spend  my  days  praying to God   or  on  the  internet searching for a clue. Time  had come to  fulfil the desire of my delicate heart.  But  inspite  a  frantic  search  I    again reached  a  dead  end. I  tried  all possible yellow  pages. So  many  name  combinations but  failed. Feeling  that  there  was  no  chance  of finding   her  in  real life I  wished that   even  if  I  saw her  in my  dream once more;  I will say  good bye to her  once and for  all.

As  I  was  nearing  my  fortieth birthday,  my  wife  Simran and  two children  were  preparing  a  big party. But my  mind  was  somewhere else.

And then  one day she  finally came to  the garden.

In all her glamour and simplicity she was  clad in a traditional  saree. She  looked so different  and mature  now, I  was  simply   fascinated to see her. She  was  walking  towards  me  and  I could  not  take my eyes off her. As  she  drew closer  I  was simply  enthralled  by  her  aura. She  will remain stunning forever  I  thought. Today, I was  prepared  to  speak it  all. I  had  even written  and  rehearsed  the sentences. But somehow   they  refused to  come  out  of  my  mouth.

“Raga, where  were you for so many years? I  have  got  married and  have a  beautiful  wife and  lovely   kids now”. I  said , my throat  choking.

“I know  that.  I  was  always there   with  you.” She smiled.

“ Today I want  to confess something.” I  said ,gathering some courage .

“Go  ahead, tell  me.” She  said.

“I  have loved  you   for  so long. I  have  only been   thinking  of  you all  the time. I have  seen  you  in every rose, in every  petal  and  in  everything  of  beautiful. I have  prayed for  you  in  every temple , to  a million deities. Every day  has  started  and  ended  with  thoughts  of  you. No  one can take your place in my mind.   I  can’t live without  you. You  are  my  first   and  last  love of  this  life,  Raga. Come with me  or  take   me  with you  where  ever you go.”  I  said,   looking  into  her  gorgeous  eyes. We  were  both sitting  down  on  the  grass today. And  that made  me  feel  so  very  light  that I told  her  everything  I  had always  wanted  to.

“I  have  always loved you too Raveen, may be  you never  realised that”. She  said, softly  holding  my  hand. It  was  the  first  time we  had  touched each  other I could  feel  the warmth of her  hand , just  like  the  warmth in  her  voice  today.

“Raga,  I can’t  tell you  how  much I    have  missed  you.” Saying  this  I  laid  down on  the  soft  grass  and  closed  my  eyes. She  was  still  holding my  hand.

She  bent  over  me and I   suddenly  felt a  soft  kiss  on my  forehead and then on my cheek.  My  eyes  opened  and I could  see  her before me. I  could  feel  her tenderness. I  could  feel  her soft  hand holding my own. I  could  feel her marble smooth skin.  Yes, it  was  real . It  was  her. My  dream  had  come true . She  had  finally  come  into my  life. I  closed  my  eyes again  and my  arms  went  up and  hugged  her  tightly not  to  let her go away this time.

“Happy  Birthday, darling” Simran   said.

I clenched my  hands  tight.

“Happy  Birthday darling” reverberated  the voice again. It  was  the  same  voice, the same blissful  voice of  my  dreams! Why  had  I  never felt  the  semblance! My prayers  had   been  answered finally.

“Thanks for coming   into  my  life”. I   said

“I was always  here  with  you”  pat came the answer from Simran ………. or ….  Raga .

They were  one  and  the  same. It  was  me  who  had  missed  the  connection.

I had  found  my  first and my  last  love.

 Everyday  was  a  dream,  thereafter!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sonali Dash on February 2, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Truly mesmerising… Was lost in the dreamland..

    Reply

  2. Absolutely mesmerised. Thanks Sonali Swarjeeta Dash for prompting me to read this blogpost. A portion of my memory became live in front of eyes as if I am experiencing like a dé javu.

    Reply

  3. Posted by amit tiwari on July 29, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Heart touching story no nice and after reading that gave me the feeling of my first love… so nice

    Reply

  4. Posted by amittiwari on July 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Relieved my past once again. So nice story. ..

    Reply

  5. Posted by Sapna on January 29, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Well written and a sharp end! 😊

    Reply

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