I didn’t know why I accept Deepak’s request, I should have politely refused saying my job in Chennai was of tight schedule and I had no time. But things get complicated as we grow up, it becomes harder to refuse to siblings especially when it is an elder brother, and when I don't want to cut off the the link. "Relations are like paper as days goes, even a mild touch can break them" that is my papa’s view and mine too. Also, it was a sensible and simple request, go meet Niranjan get something for his one year old child, convey my heartfelt condolences for his wife’s sudden demise, go back to the hotel room, pack and off to Trivandrum, so, my work in Chennai would be completed along with my brother’s wish to soothe his best pal. I accepted.
Niranjan was not just Deepak’s best pal, he was also our family friend, but that was before Niru got Medical seat, and Deepak didn’t, he was cursing the forward caste of ours which is forward name sake only. But I secretly feel that even if he was of different caste, he wouldn’t have secured a seat like Niranjan.
When Niru went to study in Chennai they shifted from Trivandrum to Chennai and thus ended the link between the families, it is always like that when there is only one strong link between the families and when that link itself is formed by kids and when the parents don't care much.
The boys still maintained the friendship but the distance between them was evident in the relation too, yet the news about his family always reached us, I got to know that his sister eloped with someone, I never thought that she had the guts for that. After few years, Niranjan got married, Deepak went for the wedding, but I couldn't, that was the time when Papa was very seriously ill. But then, when I heard that his wife died in a fatal car crash leaving him alone with their six months baby, I was devastated, but still I didn’t go.
Since 6 months have passed and as I am in Chennai now, I decided to call him, on my own account and heading to the pester of Deepu from Dubai, Niranjan said that he would pick me, I didn’t want to bother him, especially at this situation, I got the address and reached the stop, by bus, brushing aside his advice to get a three wheeler, I preferred to walk and I walked past the Ayappan temple and the park, that he mentioned as land marks.
Memories are tricky, they can remain subsided as long as they need but then on slightest provocation they brush off the dust and dance before us, with even the minutest detailing.
My hesitation to meet Niranjan was because of the pain in my heart which was unknown to anyone else, but me, the one sided passion I had towards him, for as long as I can remember, I don’t know when it started, do I sound cliché here?, but that is the truth.
Was it when his hands eased the pain in my knees when we played football, that my face would turn pink, on his each touch? Was it when I sat looking at him, during my math tuition? Or before that.. or after that.. I am not sure, but I felt it strongly, from those tender teen age, then it fell off somewhere as I grew up, I did fall for someone after that, but that never lasted, neither did the next one, and on each of those failures, his thoughts would accompany my passion and my lonely nights. As I walk towards his house I remember my first ever and only kiss with him.
In temple, on the days of ulsavam.. (utsav) we used to sit in the front row, to watch kathakali.. Duryodanavadam.. was my favourite.. the one in which Bheema devours and kills Duryodana and dussasana.. but the red-beard make up of dussasana was grotesque that I would adhere to who is near me, Deepu always pushes me away or scares me, but Niranjan was on my side always, I never feared when I was with him, when the power went off in the midway, I could hear the howling from people protesting the power cut, I sat uptight, the light from the Diya, the makeup, the killing everything made me hold him harder and as his face lowered to assure me, I kissed him, I am still not sure why and where, but I guess it was between his eyes, he remained silent.. but his heart was racing, I was scared, I felt that I have misbehaved and before he could react I went running towards my parents and never met him eye to eye after that. No other passionate kiss was as beautiful as that momentary one, it still lingered in me, along with him and my unsaid feelings.
I have reached the foot of his apartment now, and he was waving from the 2nd floor, with little Lakshmi in his hand, the child clung on to me so very soon and was asleep in my hands, he was surprised, at least the kid knows me. He has matured a lot, his face was more serious, as I tried to correlate the short, thin sharp nosed, straight haired boy, with this man, his eyes studied me too, there was a note of admiration in his eyes, that told me that I have grown gracefully well, at least to his eyes.
I never touched upon his wife, I was not so idiotic to meet him and bluntly state my condolences, we talked about little Lakshmi, his practice, the nanny who comes to take care of the child, me, my life and so on. After lunch, as we sat leisurely in his sofa, I spotted a Kathakalli statue in the corner, my hands played around it, thinking of the stealthy kiss, I looked into his eyes for recognition. He looked at it and said, that was his wife’s favorite. I just watched, he spoke more, he spoke about her, her beauty, her goodness..
Death is the only thing that can make us, talk goodness and only goodness of others, and I saw love pouring not just in his words, but in his eyes too. I didn’t pacify him, I just sat there silent, my silence was not that of a compassionate listener, but he perceived it as compassion and spoke a lot I didn't correct him..
“Do you know Devi, she was.. she was simply amazing, but I on the other hand a complete idiot, never did I tell her how much I loved her, how much I needed her, how much I felt for her, I never told, I was rude, even on that day.. just before the acci dent.. I I scolded her..”
“Niru please.. don’t break down, you have to compose yourself pleaseeee”
“You don’t understand Devi, the depth of my untold love, many a nights after that I sat in the bed room, hugging her pillow drenched with my salty tears, watching the star and I spoke to her, but if only there was one more day, I would have at least told her how much I felt for her.. This feeling.. this feeling of disgust I feel towards myself, for being a dumb.. , when I should have spoken.. this feeling makes me hate myself.. do you know the pain of untold love? I am sorry, how can you.. sorry Devi..”
We both remained silent.. at times silence heals, at times it pains, and it was more than pain to me, it was numbness..
You are right Niranjan.. I don't know how it feels...
P.S: This is purely FICTION!!
Kathakalli – Kerala based classical Indian dance drama
Duryodanavadam - A story depicting the killing of kaurava king Duryodana and Dussasana by Pandava king Bheema