Roop's name flashed on the screen of her laptop as Mili was going through one of the social networking sites. As soon as she saw the name, she felt a shiver running down her spine and her heart began to beat fast. She gazed at the name for a few moments and sat still.
Slowly she could feel a lump in her throat and a tear rolled down her right cheek. She looked at the clock hanging on the wall. Tears blurred her eyes and she could not see anything. She was not sure whether the tears were of joy for having found him after a long, long time or they were of grief for having lost him twenty three years ago.
She heaved a long sigh and looked at his name again. The embers of love that were flickering in her heart all the time, rekindled her faith in his words that he said to her when she met him for the last time. Reminiscences of a decade gradually began to flow in her mind and she became nostalgic. The sweet memories of yesteryears consequently brought smiles on her face as she took a trip down memory lane.
At First Sight
Thirty three years ago. It was evening and Mili was playing badminton with her brother on the court that was marked out in the garden in front of their house. At a distance, she saw two boys walking on the road. The road had three intersections, each leading to three houses.
When the boys reached the first intersection, Mili thought that probably they were going towards the first house. But she was wrong. They walked straight and were about to reach the second intersection. This time too she thought that perhaps they were heading for the next house. She was mistaken again and saw them proceeding towards the third and last intersection, which ultimately led to her home. Finally they reached the gate, opened it and stood at the entrance of the house.
"Can we have a word with your Dad?" The taller among the two asked her.
"Dad has gone out, I'll call Mom." Putting her racquet down on the ground, she ran inside.
"Mummy, two boys have come and they want to speak to you." She informed her mother.
After turning off the gas burner, her mother came outside and Mili followed her behind.
"Yes?" Her mother said, looking at the boys.
"We have come with a book and if you wish to buy, you can take it." The taller boy explained, with a quick glance at Mili.
Her mother took the book in her hand, read the name and author, looked at the contents and then began to turn the pages.
"Sure, I shall buy one." She said and then asked, "What's the price?"
The tall boy mentioned the cost. He then smiled at Mili.
"Just wait for a moment, I'll go and bring the money." Her mother said and went inside the house.
The tall boy looked at Mili and smiled again. She also smiled at him. She looked at the other boy who was quietly standing beside. He was watching her brother who in the meantime was playing with a ball. Through the corner of her eyes, she could make out that the tall boy was still looking at her. She turned her face towards him and he smiled at her once more.
"Here it is." Her mother came out and handed the money to the boy.
"Thank you," he said, with a quick glance at Mili yet again.
"Where do you stay?" her mother enquired.
He replied to all the questions that her mother asked him and during the conversation that went on, the other boy also introduced himself.
"Come and have a cup of tea," her mother requested.
"I guess we'll be late as there are many books still with us. I think we should proceed on our way," the tall boy replied.
"Alright," her mother said and watched the boys walking towards the gate. Mili went back towards the badminton court, picked up her racquet and looked at the boys leaving. The tall boy closed the gate and smiled at her. She also smiled at him.
It was eleven at night. Mili opened her school diary and packed her bag for the next day, according to the time-table that she had written down.
"Finished your homework?" her mother asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"And did you set the alarm?" her mother reminded her.
"Yes of course, at five," she said with confidence.
"Well, go and sleep now," her mother said with a pat on her arm.
Mili put off the lights, switched on the dim light and lied down on her bed. She closed her eyes and murmured a short prayer.
About an hour gone but she was still awake. The eyes of the tall boy, who came in the evening, appeared in her mind. His smile simply caught her attention. The whole incident, right from his opening of the gate till he left, occurred before her eyes.
She tried to recall the conversation between her mother and the boy. Her mother had asked him where he resided and also whose son he was. Through his replies, her mother came to know about him. The town where they lived was a very small one and so most of the people knew each other.
At that moment all of a sudden, Mili remembered Ruby, who lived in the same house that the boy had mentioned. Ruby was Mili's classmate in an art school, which they both attended till a year ago. Gradually she began to recall what Ruby had told her when they got introduced. She remembered Ruby telling her that she had an elder brother and then it was not difficult for Mili to understand that the tall boy was Ruby's brother.
Mili looked at the alarm clock that she had kept on the table near her bed. It was half past twelve. She got startled as it was quite late. She made up her mind to go to sleep as soon as possible because the alarm would wake her up a few hours thereafter.