They fought a fortnight before the special day. Words were exchanged, tears were shed.
But usually he would call her, coax her and make her laugh. And she would fall for him again, just like a teenager would, for her crush. Then, quite effortlessly they would resume their quixotic romanticism. Their ‘journey’, as she called it. Journey marked with highs of love and lows of ego and possessiveness.
She was hopelessly romantic. She used to make those handmade greetings, bake chocolates, and dance to those creepy desi item numbers especially for him. She used to call him ‘Captain’ as he loved playing with words, just like Robin Williams of Dead Poets Society. His virile words would make her fly on cloud nine. She envied his words because he loved them more than he loved her, she thought.
He was an idealist. He had different notions about love. Love made him more vulnerable than her. ‘Love should set a person free’, he used to tell her. ‘Marriage sets a person free. Marry me’, she used to quip. He was hardly creative when it came to their relationship except that he proposed her on 29th February of a leap year. (…if that counts as being creative). And like most of humans on this earth, he was idealist at heart, while arrant practical when it came to mind. He suffered from cognitive dissonance while she would think and act consistently.
It was 29th of February today, their first anniversary. Anniversary which comes once in four years. So, she knew he would call. This was their record silence. 14 days without exchanging a word or emoticon or voicemail. She used to sing a line or two and voicemail him. He hardly used voicemail. He connected more with her voice and she connected more with his words.
Finally, her cell beeped at around 1 PM. She skipped her beat. ‘One message from Ineffable’ it read. It made her smile.
‘Are you free? Let’s catch up’, he had texted
‘Yes, I have half day. When? Where?’ She hinted that she premeditated this.
‘Same place. 5.30 PM’
‘K’, she shot back.
He came to Marine drive and sat on the stone wall facing the Arabian Sea. The less energetic waves came and hit the tetrapod shaped rocks. He ruminated how the nonchalant waves were analogous with the relationship he shared with her. She came and sat by him and smiled. He tried smiling too.
‘What is it Zee…..Zeeshan?’ she threw.
‘I think this is it’, he said with sheepish moist eyes.
‘This is it?’ Radha accentuated each and every word.
Tears went swiftly across her cheeks. She tried persuading Zee but in vain. Emotional Zee was cold. He was unusually silent that day. Her heart sank and time was heavy. She quickly reached her purse and handed Zee a gift. It was a Matte finish black and golden Sheaffer fountain pen. The anniversary gift became their parting gift.
‘Thanks. I need to go’
‘Zee, Can you wait for five minutes?’ came her vulnerable voice.
‘I just want my last five minutes with you’
She let her head free for the one last time on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and travelled their relationship. Laughter, Joys, Tears, Teasing, obtuse talks, intelligent ramblings. Her heart beat faster than usual.
‘Let go! Maybe he cheated.’ said her mind.
‘How to let go?’ questioned her heart.
Her teary eyes made his shoulder wet. She regained her composure, took a deep breath. She stood up.
‘I am Sorry’, he said.
‘No, you are not!’ she shot back and left.
All he could see was her moving silhouette amidst the setting sun. She left him puzzled. She chose silence over words during those last five minutes. She used words only when they mattered. She could have asked why are they breaking up. She chose silence. The silence was her loudest voice. She felt if he really knew her, he would fathom her silence.
Meanwhile Radha remembered Zee’s favourite lines of Ghalib Saab. His voice echoed in her lifeless ears,
“Ragon mein daudte phirne ke hum nahin qayal,
Jab aankh hi se na tapka to phir lahoo kya hai.”
(We are not convinced by running in the veins,
Unless it flows from the eyes, it is not blood.)
The setting sun was trying to say something to the Marine drive. The sunlight of many such relationships was gulped down by the magnanimous sea of caste, religion and class differences.