Dating : A gaze upon the sky — Series

h2>Dating : A gaze upon the sky — Series

Barun Pandey

Part I: A gaze upon the sky

All my childhood, I spent days playing at the roads right beside my home. I loved cricket — probably because I was good at it, but maybe it was my brother’s influence on me.

Along with cricket, I’d play badminton with local street kids; fighting them off individual battles for money.

I wasn’t as good at badminton though; so I usually went back to playing cricket dropping an ocean of sweat- a testament to the hot summers in Butwal.

Summers in Terai are difficult, but Summers in Terai a decade ago was outright catastrophic. Sometimes, you’d wonder whether the Greenhouse effect is worth it.

As a kid though, nothing stopped me from playing. But the supposedly beautiful nights were the difficult ones. It usually followed the same template.

You’d sleep under a quick rotating fan extraditing the warm air inside the room. Suddenly, the electricity would be gone, and you are now starting to feel the heat while asleep. It’d start with a drop, then continue till you finally wake up.

The only solution? Rooftops!

I spent the majority of my childhood nights looking at the sky. I’d count the number of stars till I finally fell asleep, or until a mosquito starting annoying me.

I realized a human mind traverses through a lot of thoughts when it is kept stale. The clear night skies had an aura about it, the stars felt so near, yet so far; the moon seemed to glow right at me.

The constant noises by the crickets brought about a different state of peace in mind ironically.

I really couldn’t fathom the beauty of it, but slowly as I grew up, I realized why it was so beautiful. I met her in a similar lavish night, a night that screeches for your attention.

I met her in one of these parties my friend organized for the company we worked. It wasn’t any extravagant, but it had booze — and at parties, all people need is some booze and music. For me, parties weren’t my forte — I’ve never actually made friends by spotting them in the midst of a crowd.

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

It’s a slow, gradual process for me — something I worked upon to change in my teenage years. But, I found later that there are some personality traits you can never really change.

So I did what I usually did. I lied at the comfortable beach chairs my friend had for his pool parties and gazed at the skies.

Over the years, the only thing I learned was people were somewhat like stars. It’s all about perspective. Everyone around you sparkles and has an enormous impact on your life, no matter what you say or what you think. It’s upon us to take huge positives from it, instead of clinging to the negativity.

But never did I know I was going to find out how the big bang occurs while I was counting the stars. She wasn’t any different from me — except her smile could magnetize someone even seven seas away. I saw her the first time that evening when I entered right through my friend’s main door. She was right beside the kitchen table taking a bite at her Cadbury Silk- I never really thought someone could lick their chocolaty fingers looking elegant, but there she was.

No matter how magnetizing her smile was, one thing I’d never do is talk to someone right away. It was almost as if I never had that “Gotalktothegirl” function defined in my code.

So here I was a few hours later, staring at the same old sky looking to find a new sense of peace within my mind and she came right beside me.

My mind was quick to have two separate instant reactions to the situation. A part of me still wanted to gaze at the pellucid sky for it has long been my confidante for years.

Another part of me sensed an opportunity. An opportunity to say hello and marry her. I was always fanatic that way — it was either I don’t like her or I will marry her for me. Maybe that’s why I always waited for that big bang effect for so long.

Photo by Simon Hattinga Verschure on Unsplash

To my relief, it wasn’t needed of me to say a word. Her voice was even more soothing than her smile. It did every bit justice to how beautiful she looked. She introduced her to me like I needed one.

No matter how strange we were from each other, a part of me knew her already. After all, I had been waiting for the big bang for years.

I continued talking to her in the best way I could. I asked about her interests; and even though it’s a tried and successfully passed conversation formula that I forged upon for years, it all felt spontaneous with her. She was somewhat elusive, but maybe I was too awestruck to catch her.

We talked for hours- we looked at the sky the same way I did when I was growing up in the hot and obnoxious summers in Butwal. But at the moment, the sky turned into a drawing canvas; and I drew a huge imprint of her face so that it’d never fade away.

The time stopped for me. I cracked it! I knew how to stop time. All I needed was a catalyst, and there she was — sitting on a beach chair right beside me. But my host friend, the owner of the big house in one of the most expensive suburbs in the city, had a clock that worked in a far better pedigree than mine. He signed off the party, and to my dismay, I realized it was going to be an end to one of the most beautiful nights ever in my life.

We shared numbers and waved goodbyes.

“Sweet dreams,” she said.

But little did she realize that if my life had been a dream, she was the ingredient that would provide sweetness to it.

“Same to you,” I replied; but I knew — her definition of a sweet dream would never be the same to mine.

Part II: Tracing back the steps

Memories can be tricky. I often find myself reminiscing the past, in search of the moments when I felt myself; when I felt whole and above all when I found myself content. The past brings me joy; it helps me bring myself back to work hard on figuring out the ways to become fulfilled once again. But, like almost everything, it also reminds me of the things I crave for; of the people I abundantly miss and the moments that are absent in my life. But time doesn’t wait for anyone. Things change, and no matter what pictures you keep holding to; they gradually fade away. The dimensions change, and you are obliged to adapt to the new situations and the new surrounding no matter how hard you push to keep the things same. I have learned it the hard way.

I still hold the fresh memories of the night we first met. The night we gazed upon the sky, and the time I felt I had the one person with who I’d spend the rest of my similar nights. I valued every moment I spent with her — but not as much as I do right now.

The truth is we care a little about stuff when we have them with us. But eventually, it all comes to fruition. You no longer need a reminder application from your mobile phone to remind you the past, and how each and everything you did so coherently come linked. You pick the same public train you used to travel from years ago, and one day you suddenly realize that you made a lot of memories in it. Somehow, you understand how everything around you comes tinkered with memories, and every word you say reminds you of a certain someone you once loved. Love can be a nightmare.

I was on a similar path a few days ago. I’ve always liked to linger around that thin, fine line; where no one in the past makes a difference to me, and suddenly it all goes down to a trigger. It’s impulsive; yet, I don’t let go — for I want to start feeling something. For years, I always avoided places I once used to adore. It was my coping mechanism — I never went to the same restaurants, never walked by the same location. However, one fine day, I made an exception. I embarked upon the same journey; the same half an hour walk from the local cafe to the place she lived.

It’s amusing how everything in the world changes for good, yet the past is the only thing that makes sense to you. Every step I took made me feel as if she was right beside me, giggling hard and making the rare odd jumps time and again. Oddly, she liked it that way. She loved to jump around and make a fool of herself, but she looked ridiculously lively in every action she took. She was bubbly; there aren’t many words I can describe her with, but the thing that astonished me the most was how I felt vivacious everytime I was with her. She almost transmitted the same energy onto me.

I lived an unfulfilled dream with her. But the hollowness left by it had put me on a journey of redemption today — for a mystic answer I knew I wasn’t going to find. I knew the years spent wedging the condemned feelings would go to vain with every step I took, yet, I wanted the intense feeling. I wanted to stop feeling hollow — and sometimes, sadness comes as a cure.

Meanwhile, I was almost there.

I’d been through several flashbacks with every checkpoint I reached. The supermarket right beside the local park reminded me of the time when we were hungover from an event afterparty on a rainy weekend. It was our first night out together as a couple, and it felt so whole. She was drunk; and uttered the most nonsensical words you’d ever hear- yet it made me giggle every time. I had always loved rain — but never did I imagine to be so magical. It was almost as if the romance resonated with it. They say, couples who drench together — stay together; which kind of seems ironical today.

I also remember the time when she had her sandal broken at midnight when we were walking through the same alley I embarked upon just a few minutes ago. She cared about the little things, and it irritated me to see her in discomfort. But I’m sure my arms would never really forgive me for carrying her throughout — for she probably weighed more than me. Sometimes, I wonder if that’s the reason I still have back problems. I guess that’s the sacrifice you make for love — one I’d still make if I still had an opportunity.

But the memories are still the tiny shades of the past you keep reminding yourself. That’s what it is — it will always be miles apart from the present.

Right now, it’s almost unidentical.

You’d not know where I am.

I don’t think even I do. It’s not the same anymore. I’ve hovered around different places in the past- traveled all around the world. I’ve become accustomed to the new culture, new places, and new identities. But somehow, the freshness in this place haunts me. It crumbles me into pieces — it makes me realize how it’s symbolic of the way my life has gone down.

I feel like the world has stopped for me. The memories keep flooding into my mind like a film reel. I don’t know how to stop them; it’s as if I haven’t figured out where the stop button is. I’m surrounded by people so eager to walk past by me to run their normal daily routines, yet it all alienates me. The truth is bitter — but it’s equally painful. It hits like a dagger when you realize how you’ve been trapped by your mask all these years. You know how every attempt you made to pester over the cracks you had in your heart wasn’t a testament to how innocent you were — rather a reminder to how fainthearted you always were.

The same familiar house now feels like a brand new renovated bungalow. It feels as if there’s someone else there to create new memories. But, I’m still uncertain to what I expected. From what I heard she sold the house when she got married last summer. I still wonder if I could have regathered myself for her special day.

The day she finally tied knots with the person she loved.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — –

Part III — The last journey

December 12, 2017. Time: 8 PM

I’ve been driving my old Ford SUV for past two hours. My friend has a party lined up esp. for me. I haven’t been to parties for a long time which is probably why my friend wants to celebrate my great grandeur up in his farmhouse. I say grandeur — because I was recently awarded a top prize in an international global show. A solicit heart requires distractions — and non-stop dedication to work has indeed made a fortune for me. But long drives aren’t my thing. However, the Adele playlist I have certainly helped.

Songs helped me go through one of the darkest patches of my life. The anger, the denial, and the acceptance — even after the three phases after every breakup, the pain didn’t suddenly go away. Like a rust in the metal, I scraped day in day out to finally let myself wander in a place completely new for me. I wasn’t hungry for love, yet, somehow my soul felt empty and hollow.

You let go a person you connected so deeply with, and all of a sudden, you have to be total strangers. I sat down days trying to figure out how. But, fortunately, I do have good friends.

Like today, they continuously made a point to take good care of me. “An expedition will do you a world of good,” my friend usually says. In fact, that’s why I’m driving all the way to the Catskill Mountains right now. It’s a small town right beside New York. I’ve been there quite a few times; the panoramic scenery mesmerizes your soul. The sound of raging rivers makes you affix yourself to the surrounding.

The tunnel I just past by is the last entrance to the town. It reminds me of the movie I watched multiple times- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It’s based on a mindset of an awkward teenager who fell in love with his best friend. The movie has a tunnel scene where the characters unfurl their arms around and endure the blazing wave of air. My friend Daniel and I were hugely fanatic about it. We even tried it several times. The blowing wind did make us feel infinite. It made the two of us connect more than we ever did — somehow he became my simpatico.

Finally! I’m here.

My friend’s farmhouse has a uniqueness to it. It’s built on acres of land, as you’d expect a farmhouse to be. But the old bricks and the sculptures he ordered from Thailand makes it look like an old Royal Palace.

Meanwhile, the party has already started. It has a similar feel to the one I went years ago. That was the day when I connected deeply with someone. The music is upbeat — and the guests seem to be having a perfect time. My friend has invited quite a handful number of people. He has a hugely pleasant personality. The guy has made quite a circle. I’ve always wondered why a gregarious guy like him fancied a lone folk like me. But as fate has it, we know each other since childhood.

Time: 9 PM

Parties are strange for several reasons. You’ll often find two types of people in every party. Some kindle it as a Tinder event somewhat; while some innocent souls attend it to adhere their old friendships or to forge a new one.

I belong to the third and sparse species — the ones who come to parties to remind why solitude is so important. Somehow, the only place I find a complementary soul is always in one of these parties.

I had been navigating around to find someone to start a conversation with — and that’s when I saw her. A beautiful blonde girl, with a somewhat spooky nose and an exuberant smile. I felt it was about time I took advantage of my growing conversational skills. I approached her with a drink and gave one of those awkward smiles I so proudly possess.

“Do you know I planned a red wedding theme for this party? But my friend said no one would come” I told her, hoping she didn’t belong to one of those “I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, I want a cookie” brigade.

“I would have come prepared. You should know I have wanted vengeance ever since the episode”, the most beautiful girl on the planet at the moment told to my amusement.

“I am Barun by the way,” I didn’t waste any time for an introduction.

“Haha, I know who you are. Barun. You’re the centerpiece today. “, she said cunningly — perhaps sarcastically.

Somehow, that made me grow even more fond of her, and it has been hours since we have shared the little nitpicks of our life in a similar beach chair my friend has at his pool.

For all I know, maybe, I finally found someone to gaze upon the sky again.

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