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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is this what dreams are made of?

He came to see me that day. I was at home and so were a few other people, all running up and down with a frenzy. Lots of work was going on in my house and outside on the street. People were flooding in and going out. It was a scene from movie.

It was a surprise really. I wasn’t expecting him home. I saw him at the door and I smiled, he knew how seeing him always made me happy. I took him to my room and we sat there. We were going through the usual routine of “Hi, how are you?” when I sensed a sadness in his eyes, like a thick cloudy form of pain. But, he covered it up so well with his gibberish and random jokes; he made me believe there was none. I didn’t believe my mind, I didn’t believe my eyes , just this once I believed my heart and decided he was in pain. There was a reason to his visit, I realized. I was about to ask him what was wrong and what he was holding back, but before I could a voice called me downstairs. There was work to be done. I told him I’d be back in a second.

Somehow, I got so caught up and I never did get a chance to ask him what was wrong. In the speed of things, I forgot he was sitting in my room waiting for me to come back.

He came downstairs and went outside the house, when I noticed he was leaving. How did I become so busy I didn’t see him walk out of the door even when he passed right by me? I rushed out and called his name. There were quite a few people there. Everyone still in frenzy, doing work. I went and climbed the compound wall and he was standing there near his vehicle talking to some guy about things I couldn’t understand.

I looked at him, pointed to the man who he was talking to and asked “What is he doing here?” Maybe I asked it a bit too harshly or maybe the sadness was welling up in his eyes because his answer was low, like a groan he had forced out “I don’t know, ask him.” For a minute I got quiet. I hadn’t heard him talk like that or be like that. I was scared that I had hurt him. I sat there on the wall and waited for him to look at me. He finished talking a minute later and saw me sitting there.

Seated on the wall, I was a little taller than him. I beckoned him towards me. He came. I put my hands on his broad shoulders and I said “Are you hurt?” He didn't respond. I said “Are you ok?” The sadness just flooded his eyes. I had never seen anyone like that, in that state. Much less that person who had been my eternal spring of happiness. A tear fell from his eye. And then a few more. The people were still around us and that man who he was talking to had left. He was standing with my arms on his shoulders. He looked up into my eyes and tears were falling like soft rain drops on his face. I remember thinking to myself “How do I console that person who has always consoled me? Now that it’s my turn I can’t even remember what he says or does. Has it always been this hard for him? Have I never seen him upset before? But, I couldn’t seem to remember the answer to my questions.

I didn’t think of the people around me. I didn’t care what they were saying. I picked up one reluctant hand from his shoulder and took it to his face. I wiped a tear of and then some more. I couldn’t seem to help him or myself and I pulled him into my arms. I was still sitting on the wall. He was still standing beside me. And around us , ten people were still watching us, as he silently sobbed in my arms.

He became quiet and somehow the lane cleared up. He said he had to go and the summer sky was turning dark. He walked away to fetch his scooter which was at the end of my street. I was still sitting on the wall stunned, watching him go away and then I ran towards him. He watched me come and stopped. I went up to him and stood in front of him. He was the taller one again now. I looked up and asked him what was wrong. I got no answer but a sad sigh. All though, Not the cloudy sadness of before. But the happy sadness of now, probably from the relief of letting it out.

We talked for a while in low hushed tones standing there in a corner at the end of my street. Out of nowhere , some stranger came up to us and asked him for a ride.

He looked at me and I knew he would go and drop that man. I don’t know why I gestured with my head for him to come down. With a knowing look he bent his head; I stood on my tiptoes and gave him the lightest, most noiseless peck on his cheek, like an orchestrated dance we performed. Without using a single word. Without holding onto each other. Just one quick light peck. The man who came to ask for a lift looked at us in an amused manner and exclaimed “I bet the neighbors’ didn’t hear that”. From where we were standing I knew nobody at my house had seen that because we were behind a small tree. I looked up and saw him looking at me with a small amused sunlight smile of our little secret. I was glad for that smile. That forgiving smile.

He said he had to go. He started his scooter and the man sat beside him.

I looked at him one last time, saw him driving away in the setting sun and walked home. The only thing I could think about on my way back was “Will the neighbors tell my people of what just happened now?” I could barely get myself to care if they did.

(Adapted from a dream)

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