“What do you think of that man in blue? The one who is hiding behind that tree?” he asked me. “He is a drunkard who is returning home. He is trying to hide some part of the money he earned as a daily wage worker before his wife extracts the last penny out of his pocket so that he can buy a can of beer for himself.” He smiled. “Now tell me, what do you think of that woman in blue?” “Hmmm….she is a victim to a disease. She suffers from meinpridomania.” he decided. “What? What is meinpridomania?” I was puzzled. “Never heard of it? Ok, let me explain. She is a haughty woman. Pride swells in her. There is an aura, an invisible aura of self appraisal that surrounds her. This is contagious and so she is a public threat! Stop her from meeting her poor boyfriend. She needs immediate medical attention or else….” “You will never change, will you?” I mocked at him. “Actually, remain so. At least the English language will never suffer from a shortage of words as long as you live!” He smiled again. He never felt bad on anything I said, not the slightest of annoyance in him. This was our newly found, five minute old game, “Imagination.” We walked towards the ice cream seller at the gate of the Fort. Tutty fruity was his favorite while it topped the list of flavors I detested. Even then, a practice that prevailed for the past thirteen years, he offered me a spoon of it which was accepted by me. A smile spread across his lips. He purchased me the coffee flavor and we proceeded towards the bus stop. We were college mates and this was our meeting place since then. This was around fifteen years ago. It is strange but we became friends after we finished college. We met on the last day of college, at the farewell party, outside the college gate. I was pretty bored of all the usual and vain messages of farewell, memories of the past and most idiotic and anticipated part of the party, the proposal. My fellow college mates waited for this publically secret part of the farewell party. Young men who never mustered the courage to propose a date to a girl in the college could approach her, without the fear of being rejected because she cannot reject the proposal. It could also be taken up by the girls and the proposed boy cannot reject it. I was a self proclaimed detractor of this license and found myself wandering near the college gate waiting for my cousin who was an advocate of this program to drive me home. According to him, this particular freedom helped the insecure ones to drop the apprehensions of being rejected. I felt that if he or she had the cheek to fall for him or her, then he or she must have the courage to approach them rather than wait for this silly party. I waited for about thirty minutes but I found no sign of him. “Must have asked Yana out on a date and she must have agreed having no other alternative,” I thought to myself. I pulled a copy of a magazine and started reading an article on one of the most celebrated media person of the city. The article focused on how she struggled to reach her goals and how she fought with her conservative background that kept pulling her away from her dreams and the persistence that finally made her the subject of this article. “Smart woman!” I thought to myself. “Are you not the one who aced the intercollegiate debate this year?” It was the very “tutty fruity man” of my life. Tall, thin and sharp but with a tint of some soft emotion in his eyes.“Yes,” I responded. “Well do you think your arguments favoring the slum dwellers were impressive enough?” It was a direct ,verbal attack. Straight and to the point. “Yes. Do you have anything to offer other than the ones presented at the debate?” Our debate went on for another ten minutes, the street dogs were our audience. “I wonder from where all have they….,” my cousin honked at me. “I would like to continue this. We must discuss this aspect in detail,” he shouted out to me. “Meet me at five tomorrow at the Ode Café’,” I replied. These meetings kept repeating themselves and our debates turned out to be a catalyst in the process of creating this unnamed relation. The fervor kept increasing every time we met. We were friends, lovers, enemies, philosophers and soul mates, we were all that we could be to each other. We remained in this relation that survived the various decayed terms that the society thought of a deep relation that did not have a specific identity, a face to please the world. What existed was an amazingly majestic chord that connected two odd hearts. Maybe it was that unconventional, eccentric (for many); highly authentic feeling that meant something very imperative for our existence. This was oxygen to us. Public display of affection was something that we abominate but we held hands, shared a hug, that was it. It was this simple nothings that we treasured. I think our dialogues made it all perfect. Our silence spoke volumes. We were way above this tag of physical intimacy that was now the only foundation to almost all the relations that were created fifteen years back, that evening when he and I shared a hostile dialogue.We were spared of it, a maligned, aimless journey. “So you are leaving for Spain tomorrow. Nice! I have heard a lot about it. Will you be visiting Madrid?” “Yes! Actually I am going to be spending a week or two at Madrid. I will be delivering a lecture at the university there and then, back to Barcelona. I will return after a month. How can I leave Spain without having visited the city you love the most even without having visited it once?” I was happy to know that he was going to visit Madrid. He knew of this abnormal love that I had for this place. He was the only one who never laughed at this feeling in me. I was delighted to know that I was going to visit Madrid through his eyes. Madrid was a disturbing secret of mine but even then the streets of Madrid beckoned to me. He never asked me about this deep and dark secret that I nurtured. I think he knew that someday, I was going to divulge it to him alone and so why spoil the magnanimity of the scene! “I think we must explore another space.” I forced myself out of the world that was not mine exactly. ”A little more captivating and strange for our future visits; don’t you think this place is getting too uncomfortable to handle and you know why” “Hmm….I think it takes away all purity from the otherwise polluted air. They are murderers! So cruel and heinous! The woods are beautiful; each tree here has a secret to keep, a story to say and these idiots use them as a hide out for such……” His advocacy for the woods was disturbed by the horn of the bus. We shared a warm hug before I boarded the bus. He made sure that I found a seat for myself. ”you have an entire month to search for another patch of woods,” he reminded and waved at me. There was this certain message that our eyes exchanged and both of us replied to it. I smiled at him. We do not call each other or text each other unless we had to meet urgently, before the predestined date and time and to let each other be informed that we have reached our respective homes safely. Strange to many but we wrote letters to each other instead of a text message or an email while living in the same city! The bus started moving and I turned back to look at him for one last time, at least till he returned from his tour. It had started raining and his sweatshirt was turning wet. I turned back. Even as it started pouring heavily, I knew that he would wait there till my bus disappeared into the busy streets before driving home. The intensity of this meet, the ardor that it has left in us would sustain until we meet again.
Copyrights @ 2015 Elsa Thomas