Bane Of Existence

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{ This one has been sitting idly in drafts for more than a year. Most of it owing to my laziness to edit and publish. Finally I got around to it and the reason for that has to be yet another blog. Before you go on - the story might not be fictional but the characters and settings are.}


The Sun had silently gone to sleep. His last rays bounced off the golden sands. The groundnut peddler hit his wares furiously. The tantalizing smell of onion pakodas gave a tough fight to my diet plans. But the Beach was not the same today. The Waves don't sound happy. They sing in sorrow like they understand her.


Her. Her  brown eyes don't sparkle today. They are fixed at the horizon. I can't decipher the sadness in them. Moments of happiness end at the same point in infinity. Her each gesture has a story of its own, like the grains of sand washed up and away by the waves.
She is a friend not a lover. A friend not of old times, but found anew. I  always wondered how  we ended up as friends, how we chose each other from the thousands that thronged the bustling city.

The conversation was not going anywhere. There was no conversation at all.
'Time to go..', I said, picking myself up and dusting my trousers.
She didn't say anything. I lent her a hand. She got up reluctantly like a child being pulled away from a swing. We made our way slowly to the road where her car was parked.
' Okay, that's it. Are you going to tell me whats up or still want me to stand around and guess? ', I said. There was a moment after that , a second , may be half a second, I saw her eyes well up. But she didn't cry, she never cried. Those tears are imprisoned. 
' I saw my old maths tuition teacher today.'
' Oh!!  and you got a bashing from her for getting 2+2 wrong after 20 years? Good reason to be sad.'
'Not her, him'
'What?'
'The teacher's a He not a Her.'
' Ok! Sorry. Can we get to the point? Was HE alright,  I mean, he might be old?'
'No, its not that. Leave it, you wouldn't understand.'
'I talk Eng-li-sh too. I scored 90 for English in ISC. Mind you ISC is tough. If you need proof I will show my mark list to you. Its at home or better lets...'
'Alright!!! ', she took a pause. She seemed to be forming phrases in her mind to tell me.
'Well, he did things to me you know. He was a bad guy.'

I just stared. I am very bad at saying stuff that comforts people and I converse even worse in situations like this. After an awkward silence, I ask the most stupid question I could think off.
'Where did you meet?'
A sharp look from her is enough to know that I just got an inch closer to getting kicked. My cover up question followed
'He didn't recognize you, right?'
'No, he didn't. I didn't know what to do when I saw him. I was so vent up with anger and disgust. I was eleven. I couldn't tell my parents. I failed my exam on purpose and told my parents that he was not teaching me well. I was traumatized after that. He had  poisoned my dreams. I could never befriend a boy. You are one of the few men I have as friends. Now you know why I shy away from men. I don't shy, I fear them, loathe them.'
'Its been a long time. You should move on.'
'This is why I told that you wouldn't understand. You belong to the same sex after all.'

We reached the car. It is a Maruthi Zen, one of those yellow colored ones. I remember the evening we found the car following in an advertisement on the library notice board. The owner was in a hurry to sell it off as he was relocating to America. We had got a good deal and had celebrated it with a couple of quiet beers. 

The car smelled of lavender dispensed dutifully  by the perfume perched on the AC grill. I was thinking of how to fill in the twenty minute drive home  with conversation, when she spoke.

' I saw him today morning at the traffic island just before the office.'  she said.
I decided to remain quiet for the good of both of us.
 ' I had a call at seven, so I went early today. I saw him crossing the road. I recognized him immediately.   I saw him getting hit by a car. He fell down. Hit his head. The car sped away. I could see blood forming on the road, slowly oozing away from him. I could have helped him. I didn't. Instead I turned and walked. '

 I gave her hands a squeeze. They were cold. She broke away to shift the gear.
'You don't need to feel guilty.' I Said
'You had your reasons. I am sure he would have got help, people pass by often on that road.'

' I don't feel guilty that I didn't help him. I feel guilty that I feel happy. Its like something I always wanted but didn't want to happen.'

We overran a traffic signal to receive a who-taught-you-driving-you-son-of-a-bitch honking.

'You need some rest. Shall I drive? ', I asked. Usually such an offer would face rebuttal.But that day she relented.

When we are around five minutes from her home, I stopped the car by the side of the road. I had something to tell her. 
'Why did you stop?'
'I used to learn music when I was a kid. I loved it. But then my music teacher couldn't come any more because she had to move away. We found another teacher.He was old. He had the same white eyebrows and balding head like my Grandpa. He used to be nice to me. But then one day he started touching me. He made me do things I didn't understand. I didn't feel good. I stopped looking forward for music classes. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if I could tell my parents. Then one day as he was leaving, I pushed him down the stairs. He didn't die. He just broke his arm. But he never came home after that. I lost interest in music. I told my parents I didn't want to learn anymore. But I never felt a tinge of guilt for what I did till now. I just feel I didn't do enough.'

I didn't look at her. I pulled the car out of parking and drove on. We reached her house. I denied her offer to drive me home. We didn't say good night. Just a tight hug. 

I walked home. The dark night was rushing onto me. But the lights along the road kept it at bay. I didn't have to wonder anymore. I knew then how we ended up as friends. I knew then why we found each other from the thousands that thronged the bustling city.


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