9th May, 2019.
I opened my eyes as the train slowly slid into the station. It was drizzling and the platform was only starting to get wet as I alighted. I would be meeting Tara in a few minutes. This is only our third meeting, but so much has happened in the first two that I was really anxious about this one. A pensive mood hung upon the station, but my mind was afloat in something that bordered euphoria and utter confusion. I placed myself on a steel chair at one end of the platform. I dialled her number and waited for the ring. As I did, her face flashed in my mind, with the same puzzlement in her eyes when we met the last on 6th May, just three days ago.
I haven’t slept a bit last night, except for the last half an hour or so in the train. I boarded from Trivandrum at 03:35, before spending hours staring at the ceiling with Moideen sleeping by my side. I had asked him to come over, for I needed him to drop me off at the station. I spent some time looking at the decal of the phonograph, thinking about everything that I spoke with Tara about music. Our music taste was divergent, but I felt that we were looking for the same thing in everything that we listened to. Between the 2nd and 6th of May, we kept exchanging songs with each other. Most of the songs were new, it was almost as if there were oceans of stuff that I had looked over. But there was a certain rhythm to the process, a degree of freshness that I haven’t had in a long time. I listened to her songs in loop, for hours in succession, imagining myself to be lost in a dome where I could smell her presence. This was not the first time that I was falling in love. I was aware of all the trappings and wanted to stay away from it for as much as I can, but I couldn’t help but see me slowly descending the spiral. Heck, it felt like a slow climb to ecstasy with gravity aiding me in the process! All I wanted was to be close to her. And when we met again after a break of four days, we were drawn to each other like nothing else. I am not sure of what she felt, but the moment I saw her again, I knew that I should be close to this woman. I had written a letter to her on 7th, apologising about whatever that has transpired the day before, and declaring my love to her. It all felt so sudden in hindsight, but the last seven days has been undoubtedly the best in my life, with Tara making her unexpected entry and whatever that ensued was nothing but a pure bliss. It might be fast, and it may not last even, but being suspended in that colloid of love was something to die for! I even had a devastating heartbreak in between. But Tara picked me out of it with a few of her words and I could see how it will stay with me forever. This applied to everything that she did to me, starting from the first advice that she gave me on the day we met.
We were standing in my kitchen, doing dishes after a delayed lunch. We have met only a few hours later and we had already talked about Nehru, history, medical science and Anthropology among other things. I don’t really remember much, except for her starry eyes fixed on mine. As I looked into them, I saw depths indescribable, slowly inviting me into the abyss that lies beneath them. I once again relished that sweet feeling of being comfortable in one’s own skin. I spoke with no pretension, never feeling a pace to impress her. I spoke as if there is no tomorrow. At times, my eyes ran over the Blue de France lines that crossed her white tunic with modest embellishments. In all, she felt perfect and I couldn’t ask for more. It was then that our friends joined us for lunch. After lunch, we assumed the dishes. Her sweet fragrance was wafting in the air as I worked up the dishwasher lather, that corrupted the scent balance of the room, but in a way that I found appropriate. I had a steel plate in my hand, when she uttered those words that are indelibly etched in my mind. She asked me to wash the other side of the plate, in a way that reminded me of my mother. I was aware of the cliched way in which someone’s love interest evoking the memories of his mother, but this was something different altogether. Standing there, I felt that we are going to do this for years in succession and I will never grow tired of it. I fancied doing dishes with Tara for day after day, for months after months and years after years that followed. It all sounds crazy for the one week year old acquaintance that we shared, something that has quickly blossomed into this bond that we share. In this one week, we haven’t spoken to each other for the last three days. How is that? How can this happen to me. Above all, why is this happening to me? All these thoughts flooded me as she picked up the phone.
I was still sitting in the Alleppey railway station with my phone connected to Tara. What was I supposed to say? Should I apologize again, or should I just let her know that I am here? I felt at home in the station, even after a night without sleep. Or should I just take the next train back to Trivandrum? The phone call passed amidst my utter confusion and she told me that she will be there by 07:30. I had almost an hour at my side, enough to keep overthinking about the last one week, or may be about the life that lies ahead. I looked at the sky and sun was yet to come. Grey clouds made slight movement, a breeze carried some raindrops to me and I was amused to see some of them smiling at me from the corners of my shoes that I had polished only a few hours ago. I felt like a complete idiot to have come so dressed up to meet her early in the morning. I had changed from the train before taking a nap. I had my grandfather umbrella with a wooden handle, which I have made a point of never using, unless the rain turns aggressive enough to kill the fun around me. I let it rest on the side of my chair as I sank into yet another train of thought.
My phone rang again. Tara would be here in a few minutes. I went outside the station and there she was! Tara was waiting outside, leaning on her bluebird, a little scooter that I was seeing for the first time. It reminded me of a kingfisher, but her features weren’t as sharp. Just like my Tara, she wore an air of amorphous candor all over her. She sat there in all her earnestness as Tara instructed me to climb up at the pillion. In an instant, bluebird sprang to life, carrying us over the broken tarmac that adorned the way to Alleppey railway station. I saw Tara’s face on the mirror and it revealed nothing. The sky was still dull, with an impending rain hanging over us. I took a deep breath, careful not to direct it back at her bare neck, which reminded me of our last meeting. Everything around looked strange, even the banana leaves along the sprawling roadside felt alien as she drove across narrow roads that took us forward. I smelled canals and salty plants that grew floating in their pitch-black waters. I saw temples, closed restaurants and anxious fish stalls waiting for their first customers. I took a drag of Alappuzha into my lungs and I knew it instantly - my life will never be the same again.