Nikhil's diary had always been a subject of intense curiosity to me. The forceful pace with which he scribbled in it exacerbated my inquisitiveness each time I saw it but his tranquil and grave countenance prevented my nosiness from yielding results. He and I were great friends, yet there was an untold flimsy barricade. He often came to my place to spend his futile hours and sat narrating the agonizing intricacies of his life. At times I endeavored to probe into the pages of his prussian blue testament but it culminated into utter futility and often into trivial wars.
There was a sudden ringing of the door bell this morning. I woke up startled on my bed and stared at the giant wall clock. It was six in the morning. I dragged myself to the door and pushed it open. It was Nikhil. He stood pale and lifeless, shivering and drenched in the winter rains. Water dribbled down his wet hair in thick runnels. It had been raining violently since the last night. I called him in and fetched him a towel. I told him to wait for a while so that I could get him a mug of coffee. He placed his little bag on the table and grabbed the towel from my hand to dry himself. I returned in a while with a couple of coffee mugs and found him plucking out articles from within his bag. All had been wetted by the rain water. There was a square watch, a drenched kerchief, a couple of cigarettes and that diary. He sipped onto the cup and released a breath of relief.
Before I could question him much, he interrupted me and said, “I need to leave early. I have some important work to finish so I am leaving these stuffs to dry. Bring these to the office” and he departed abruptly after taking the last sip.
As soon as he left, I leapt upon his diary with an elevated sense of victory. Ah I had made it! I ruffled the pages and it opened to the last one. It bore the number 789 and I started reading those scribbled paragraphs.
December 17, 1992
This diary has been an intimate fragment of mine since that year of 1989. It bares every moment of my life and contains a testimony of every single incident that had etched the pages of this sojourn leaving behind its impression inerasable and irreparable. It has been a loyal companion perhaps like a mirror where I stood clad in the naked truth of selfness, unfettered and unmasked. It is an oeuvre which reflects those numerous events that fills the lacuna between the brackets of my life, death and…..after!
It was a gift from her. I had preserved it, caressed it and wrought it. She had been a concealed secret of mine. How beautiful! How somber! How feminine she appeared draped in her floral frocks! How capriciously she held me captive in her ceaseless charm! How furtively the curls tossed on her shoulders as she treaded those cobbled pavements! I had been intoxicated. We had been the most intimate cohort of each other in those few years. That was an unexplained magnetism and an inseparable amity. We sauntered about in those populated corridors where hundreds of pupils sat themselves in clusters engrossed in their playfulness and sincerity. There was immeasurable warmth of ardor, youth and nascent maturity.
The incessant disquisitions in those galloping hours, the immense desire to possess her and the lurking fervent affection kept me fastened to her. How desperately I raced to catch her companionship despite the monotony of those loathsome studious hours! But despite the intense familiarity, my fears rather my cowardice desisted my confession. Years fled with subtle nimbleness and the unspoken admiration leached deep down into the crevice of time. She was lost and so was I.
It was on the last Monday when I took a bus to that old city to toss those frozen myriad of lost moments. The old friends had decided to meet. The monotonous winter evening sky and the tardy cold grappled every other passenger in its piercing wintry bitterness. My neck stood out through that layered fortification of the checkered muffler and my crest lay buried under a brown woolen cap. The bus stood amidst a little crowd by the side of a narrow sordid street. There were men, women and children gaping at those endless lanes banked by the lofty eucalyptuses.
It was eight by my watch. The tearing honk of the bus disconcerted the chilly silence. I climbed up the bus and waded through the streaming crowd to reach my seat. Placing my bag on it, I threw myself on the soft Prussian cushion. I slid aside the window pane and a frozen wintry gust of wind stroked my greasy countenance. I hastened to drag back the pane and tilted myself a little towards the back and rested my head.
The swift fleeing lights and the persistently following moon seemed to peer through the pane as I gazed out with my crest on the soft cushion. The bus raced through the city towards the tranquil peripheries of the civilization. It stopped for a while and a flock of people crawled up those steel steps onto the bus. They jostled through the array of the seats and one of them bundled in a wrap of shawls and settled beside me. It was her!
The dimly lit bus showed me her delicate form, ignited in surprise to see me. She sat glaring at me with her brows elevated and smiling. She rained down a buffet of questions and I still gawked at her startled and overjoyed. We were heading towards the same destination to rejuvenate those old memories. I was seized with an uncontainable desire to confess those old buried emotions but the sudden ardor subsided with time.
There were a few lame discussions on trivial matters and soon she retired to sleep. The pale light of the trailing moon silvered the seats and its passengers as it pushed through the desolate woods of the outskirts.
There was a sudden jerk and I felt a sharp pain. I felt a wet stream oozing out of my thighs. There was a heavy weight on my chest and I gasped to breathe. There was a sudden upheaval and before I could comprehend the situation, the uproar subsided. There were broken glasses on the road and a couple of broken rods dangling from the window. The heavy weight on my chest was her lifeless body. Streams of blood pooled that rugged street. The night stood still. The unkind silence spoke of death. There wasn’t a single living life. They all had died…..even me!
The diary dropped and I stood dazed. A sudden call disrupted the silence. A sobbing voice spoke mournfully, “I have an awful thing to say. Nikhil Sir passed away in a bus accident last night! None of the passengers survived…..”