Meeting An Old Friend
|"Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it's like they didn't fade away at all." ~ Bob Dylan. (Pic Credits: Rardul Shane)
It was a Saturday evening and the sun was partly relished by the hungry mountains. The palm trees were swaying with the gently flowing wind which also tickled the wisps of my long gray hair. I got down from my motorbike and placed the helmet on the backseat.Walking languidly towards the wooden bench, I sat there and breathed in the aroma fresh autumn air hanging loosely in the air. I saw some distant folks dressed up in white overalls, tending the overgrown hedgerow. Some of them were gardening, watering the flowers, to keep their delicate freshness intact. The bliss and fragrance of aromatic lilies and tulips, I was soaking it all in!
I opened my beige colored satchel. Accessories are not my thing but this one was a gift from Jane, so I couldn't be sardonic towards it. I took out the box of beans and started scattering them on the ground. I've always hated pigeons but feeding them always seemed sort of interesting. The way they peck onto them, till their tiny bellies are satiated and then fly off towards the small pond over the southern end of the park, quenching their thirst, eventually flying off to nowhere-- or maybe taking a dump on someone's head.
I kept feeding them for a while, staring mindlessly at this activity. Just then an old woman came there. She sat beside me on the same bench.
I eyed her from the corner of my eye as she took out a newspaper from her purse and started reading it. I kept feeding the pigeons and it was starting to bore me now. I looked at the old lady again to see what she was reading.
"Anything interesting?", I casually asked her to strike up a conversation.
She lifted her face from the newspaper and stared at me with suspicion. For an ugly old man with long hair, who looks like a creepy sexual offender on the run, I was used to such peculiar peering. She felt threatened, I guess. So I resumed back to scattering beans on the ground.
"You want to read?", came a frail voice. The old lady was now offering the supplementary part of the newspaper to me. The one that has all the glitz and glamour!
"Oh, thank you" I replied and hesitantly took it from her. And just when I was about to open it,
"You new in here?", she asked.
"Yeah, sort of. I'm actually here to visit a friend of mine."
"Well, that's nice", she nodded and went back to reading.
After grazing through the usual movie catalog, Calvin and Hobbes and the editorial column for like 20 minutes, I decided to leave.
"Here you go lady, thank you for snapping me out of my near-romantic date with pigeons. I should set off now, in search of my friend", saying so, I returned the paper to her.
While she extended her arm to take it, I happened to notice the tattoo below her elbow. An abstract design of an veiled eagle, with its wings on fire, trapped in a cage. I gazed at it for a moment and was mesmerized by its enticing beauty.
"If you want, you can keep it", she said. I realized that I was still holding the paper in my hand, while she was holding the other end.
"Oh sorry, here.", saying so I let go off my end.
She took it, folded it neatly and kept it back in her purse.
"Does your friend stay in this neighborhood", she asked as I got up and started towards my motorbike.
I turned back and replied while putting my helmet back on, "Oh yes, perhaps."
"Don't you have the exact address?"
"Then how will you find your friend?"
"I don't need to."
"Well, you're quite a queer fellow Sire, I hope you find your friend. Have a nice day!" she said and smiled.
I sat back on my bike and pushed the start button. The engine of my Harley roared back to life. I slid up the visor of my helmet for a moment and replied,
"I think I already found my friend. It was pleasant meeting you lady. Adios!"
I slowly released the clutch the bike swooshed forward. I looked in the rear view mirror, and saw her looking at me curiously. Some folks in white overalls had already gathered there to escort her back. I waved my left hand without looking back and a demure smile came across her face. I moved on with my journey and soon her face gradually disappeared from the mirror. I applied the throttle as the forlorn surroundings passed me by. The sun was now obscured by the mountains and the dying light was fighting its last battle against the onset of darkness. My eyes were moist. Maybe due to the dust granules hitting them. I had one final look in the rear view mirror, as I saw the watchman close the latch of the iron gate behind me; the board on the gate read, "Hope: A Shelter For Beautiful Minds"
I squinted for a while in the mirror, till the letters diminished within the pearl shaped tear droplets, clouding the pupils of my eyes. I felt its warmth as a droplet trickled down my left cheek. Looking ahead at the lavender tinted dusk that was creeping across the road, I rode on. I desperately needed a shot of whiskey now. And so, I wandered off in search of a bar, lost in a nostalgic dwam, traveling with the waning memories of my fragmentary meeting with an old friend...
[Well, I was on a brief sabbatical for some time now. Anyway, it's been a helluva start to 2017. After a disastrous 2016. Meanwhile, I got a job through campus placements! Followed by an unforgettable Himachal tour with my lovely beloved folks. Meandering through the land of beautiful snow covered mountains where rays of happiness and enlightenment keep endlessly flowing through your soul! So yeah, the year looks promising and optimistic ahead with all the jigsaw pieces falling in place. Will always keep writing. And reading, of course. Okay. Enough with the blabbering. Thank you for reading this one. It sure means a lot! Till then, adios!]