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Blood was everywhere. The little puddles had turned red. Even the skies had wept earlier in the day. Her life, his love, and a fairy tale romance they shared & their love story had suddenly come to an abrupt halt. He had no choice but to stand there & watched her mortal body turn to ash- “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. He was helpless & motionless. Death had spared him today, but took away his life & soul from him. There were tears in his eyes, but what was more visible in the midst of the pleasant weather was a certain defeat, a defeat that only people who knew love would ever have experienced. It took him just one soft slap of the wind to make him realize that he’d finally lost to love again & perhaps for the last time.

 

He flipped over the pages of his diary, With a deep sigh he slowly and in an asphyxiated manner, read out the words of the man he had once met in Nanjing, that was the autumn of 2009, he was there to complete his dissertation- the man had said to him- You will somehow get through this loneliness, if it ever occurs to you. But don’t be the person who feels complete in incompleteness. Don’t think that all is fine with the lone streets & empty nights. Sometimes you’ll be contented with the voices inside your head & the words on the sheets. But for how long? For how long can you survive without love in your heart & a companion in your life? For days, for weeks, you’ll tell its okay and that too really okay at that. But there will come an evening when you’ll realize your grave mistake & will recognise the void inside your heart & the empty space on the other side of the bed. That will be the same void, the same space, which you earlier misunderstood as ‘safe seclusion’. That evening you’ll learn the value of love in life, and the value of a companion in your journey towards the crimson horizon, towards ‘death’.

 

The distant sun setting on the horizon reminded him of the times when he had lost to her bright smile & her raven hair. He recalled the times when she’d fall into a tearful slumber off remembering her father who had left home 9 years ago. The winds suddenly flipped over to the section of the diary where he used to write poetry for her, a drop of tear fell on the page as the poetry was none other than the ones he had written a long ago for her during the times he had spent with her, at 3 in the morning. Those days he used to be drunk on her voice, minutes passed, and so did the hours, but the long phone conversations never used to end. At some 5 in the morning, they both used to say goodbye, although reluctantly. She had eyes full of sleep & he had a few sheets, scribbled on which were some of his amateur attempts at poetry & of the most honest words he had ever written about love & relationships.

 

His misery was no different. He was abandoned at a very young age. Nobody knew his real name. Did he even have a name? Did he have a home? Father Clapton had found him in the Doon valley, at the stairs of a temple on the NH 72, draped in nothing but a torn woollen shawl. Father John, a man of religion & love, made the little one his own. He cared & nurtured him as he had no one to in his own family. Years ago he’d chose the path of chastity & decided to preach about religion & spirituality. A man of eminence & a man of power, Father Clapton was a well-known figure in the Doon valley & across the Indian subcontinent. The last in the line of Du Shont family, as one of the prominent international magazines recently put him. Father Clapton gave him a name, ‘Atiksh.’

 

Atiksh continued to stare at the funeral pyre. The hot love, the cold snuggles, the honest love they shared was burning to ashes in front of his eyes. Standing there, he fell into a dream, for dreams & memories was all he had now. For reality has ceased to exist now. Slowly & gradually, he was transported back to the day he had first met her.

It was just another day at the Doon valley. The same locals going about their daily business. A few men on the streets, hiding unsuccessfully behind a semi-loaded truck, smoking on the finest hashish the valley had to offer. A few pretty girls returning from their schools & another group of lively middle aged ladies stretching themselves under the sunlight & setting the ambience for discussing matters of importance, their daughters-in-law at that. .They both were rushing towards the auditorium of St. Peter’s College. As fate would have had it, they both jolted into each other, with the coveted St. Peter’s college set in the background. St. Peter’s College, the forte of the rich & the learned. students of less blue blooded institutions quite aptly referred it to as the Harvard of India. It was no lie that till a few hours ago she was as beautiful as she was on the 17th of September, 2008.

 

Deeply engulfed by her memories, & the smoke from the pyre. Rejected by fate, dejected by love, he began his long drive to his home. The magnificent view of the Mumbai skyline didn’t provide a bit relief to him. Shattered to the deepest part of his soul, if any was left in him, he threw his load away, sat on the chair where once they had made promises to stay with each other forever, & began to write about ‘her’.

 

 

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