Once again, he lost the plot with a stream of memories flooding his mind. Rather than turning the pages to recollect who ‘she’ was, he put away the book and closed his eyes to get some peace of mind- if only, it was that easy! Ever since he had come back to home, he had been trying hard to stay composed and not let the constant pang of memories affect him, only to fail miserably. It had been a month, still it almost felt as if he just stopped living that life in that place with those people, with his friends. It had still not sunk in that it was all over, that it was a beautiful phase of life which he had lived but it was time to move on. Everything he did, everything he saw somehow reminded him of that place, and all those memories somehow led to her. It was not as if he was in love with her. He was long over that feeling, he reminded himself. It was not as if they had been together or been the best of friends either. Not that he hadn’t wanted either of these to happen, but it didn’t, and he had made his peace with the situation. He had some friends with whom he shared perhaps the most beautiful bond. For one last year, though he had just been used to her presence all over the place. Just her presence, which had never got much to do with his’, or him in anyway.
So he was surprised (pleasant or not, he was not sure) that all his memories of the place somehow led to her. The canteen, where she would be chatting merrily with her gang; the grounds, where her laughter would be heard almost all the time; the classes, where her eloquent and intelligent questions were more interesting than the professor’s lecture; the lawns, where she would be found posing for photographs or smearing cake on her friends; the library, where she would be found with eyes full of suppressed laughter and a wait for getting out of the place, and the hostel where her voice would echo all around the floor- all he missed of that place had her presence. Each day, as much as he would try to avoid the thoughts, more they would come, initiated by any and everything. Starting as a slow process of a series of memories flashing in the mind, it would slowly turn into a cold sinking feeling in the heart, and in some time engulf him completely in the most disarming way possible. He tried all he could to get back to his normal self- reading a book, scribbling in the pages of his diary, watching a movie, social networking, but nothing really helped him stop her from coming in his thoughts of that place.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was the day he had been waiting for two months now. Finally his new life, in the new city had started. He had known that she would also be in the same city, though wasn’t particularly excited by the information back then. But over these two months, he had realized that probably the only way to get rid of that feeling was to see her, to spend some time with her. So, here he was, waiting for her in a cafe.
She arrived. Seeing her walk merrily, full of life and the infectious happiness as always, he was somehow reminded of the times when he would visit his home after a gap of months, a feeling not of particularly happiness, but of relief, of stability, of things being as he had known and wanted them to be. She smiled happily and greeted him. It was all the same- Her sitting comfortably in the chair yet jumping out every moment in the excitement to speak, like in those classrooms, with semi-circles of tables and chairs and the ever cheerful and familiar classmates battling sleep and boredom; Her loud and full of energy voice asking about his two months, like in those grounds with some beautiful plants along the side, benches in the corner which were never empty and tall trees reaching the heights of the surrounding buildings; Her carefree dismissal of his boredom and her genuine laughter ringing in the cafe like in those lawns with 2 levels of ground and the old tree regarded as the tree of wisdom on one side; Her vivacious call to the waiter which echoed around like it did in the hostels, with those long corridors and a scarily semi-functional lift and the shredding away walls yet housing the best comforts and luxury ever possible to them; Her easily visible attempts to suppress the laughter at waiter’s attire like in the library, with those long rows of empty spaces between the book-stands, the attractive emptiness of the reading hall, the tempting internet speed all around and the beautiful statues of the guy and girl outside it- he could remember all of it. Every single image of that place he had captured in his mind over last two years came alive in that moment.
He felt something sinking down his chest again. She was there. Everything she did took him back there. He was no more here, with her. The book was perhaps going to be unread for some more time.
He should have known better.