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The Birthday (That Never Was)

“I don’t need a weepy goodbye”, he said, looking fixedly at me.

He took the last drag of the cigarette, threw it with a flick of his fingers and continued, “Goodbyes should be on a happy note…”; took a deep breath and added “ALWAYS”.

Even before I could say a word he got excited as he rubbed both his palms together and said, “Let’s make a plan!”

“What plan”?, I asked him. I let my thoughts pass by, swallowing all that I had to say about goodbyes, weepy or otherwise.

He stood up, took out his phone from the right hand side of his denims and got restless as he began unlocking the screen. He looked quite lost and mumbled something as he opened the calendar on his phone.

I said nothing. I almost snatched his phone and fed in my birth date, setting as a reminder with the most annoying alarm tone.

He scratched his head and said, “I don’t remember birthdays”, and we both smiled.

We sat in silence for a while on the rickety bamboo bench gazing on to the pine trees. Soon it would be dusk. It’d get cold and a thick layer of fog would surround us.

“But I will remember yours”, he said and removed the reminder in no time.

I looked at him, questioningly now as I raised both my eyebrows.

“It’s on 7th Feb da” he said.

He rather looked cute…. No he looked cuter.

It was our last evening together. One on one. We still had thirty six hours at our disposal but that would be spent travelling.

I felt a heavy lump inside my throat.

Things had just got better. We were in sync.

He stood up, took out the camera from his black sling bag and walked towards the main stage. My favourite artist Prateek Kuhad had just taken control on the center stage and the crowd began to gather and swell. My eyes followed his footsteps as long as I could and after a while he got lost amidst the swarm of people.

I sat alone, still gazing on to the pine trees. I don’t know how many minutes I sat there all by myself. As I turned my head to my right to take a good glimpse of Prateek Kuhad, I saw him at a distance, taking pictures of me.

He came walking towards me, put the camera inside the bag and handed it to me.

“Sit!, I told him.

“Wait a minute”, he said, as he pulled out something from his back. Well… it was a bamboo hollow filled with Apong.

“Cheers!”, he said, as he took a sip and handed the Apong to me.

“Let’s make a plan”, he said yet one more time.

So we got back to where we had started.

I smiled at him and asked the same question as I sipped the Apong, “What plan?”

“Let me check the air fares from your place to mine”. He wasted no time and started looking up the air fares.

“Man it’s cheap if we book it right away!” he exclaimed as I kept sipping the Apong.

“So… 7th is a Sunday and your Saturdays are off days too. Take the early morning flight on Saturday and I will receive you at the airport and we will drive down straight to Auroville. Your birthday will be in Auroville with me. I want to make it special!”

He took my phone and set reminders this time!

It sounded special and it felt nice.

“Four months huh?”, I questioned him teasingly.

“It’s only four months da! If we could have waited for five years, four months should not be a big thing”.

“Yes!” I exclaimed and gave him the tightest hug.

For the rest of the evening we happily let ourselves get drowned in music, Apong and the fog, holding hands all the while.

The next thirty six hours passed too soon travelling and finally the moment came I dreaded the most. The time to bid adieu. It wasn’t a weepy goodbye at all. For we knew we’d be seeing each other soon… it was just a matter of four months.

The next four months were no easy. I felt I was getting clingy and he seemed to go inside his shell. We spoke on and off. But he said he was in his own zone and preferred keeping quiet.

It took a while to gather myself and get used to my life the way it was and the way it is.

And finally the day arrived.
My phone beeped with the reminder on time! I looked at the screen and smiled at myself. We made plans and the plans remained plans! I don’t know whether I was happy or not. But I smiled and recalled that last evening.

I prefer quiet and noiseless birthdays.
I never expected him to call or wish me. In the six years (yes it is now six years) I have known him he never has wished me once!

And then he called. Whoa! He called! Yes he did!

“Happy birthday girl!”, he said. I know he was smiling. I could make out from his voice.
“Thank you!” I replied.
“See, I told you I’d remember your birthday. And in the last six years that I have known you this is the first time I am wishing you!”
We both laughed at the same time and I said, “Yes! And I will remember this for the rest of my life!”
We spoke for a long time.

Much later a night I sent him a message.
Me:“Thank you”
Monk:“For what?”
Me:“For remembering my birthday”
Monk:“I told you I would”
Me:“We were supposed to be together on this day Monk”
Monk“Yes, I know”
Me:“Maybe some other time”
Monk:“Maybe we are used to not seeing each other for five years!”
Me:“I miss you”
Monk:“I miss you sometimes”
Me:“I miss you mostly”
Monk:“I hate the distance”

Posted by incommunicado 19:53 Archived in India Tagged me landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains people night backpacking hitchhiking

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