Amishi tried to reach him the following week which was her study holiday. She wasn’t going to college. Her folks at home knew that and it would draw attention if she left for college at the spur of the moment. She tried her best to contact him… He didn’t answer her calls. The only solace was he hadn’t blocked her…
She decided to focus on her exams and follow up on him later. But every night without fail she messaged him how her day was spent, general talk and her upcoming placements as an intern after exams. She knew he had read her messages but he never replied to them. However she found peace every time she left messages for him, knowing that was her only link with him. It soothed her whenever he read her messages…. She felt a fragile thread of connect with him.
On the following Monday her final exams began. Just before she reached the examination hall she received a text message. Finally he had responded…
All the best, beautiful… I know you will do well…
Amishi was thrilled. But she chose not to respond. In case he didn’t message back then her mood would not be conducive for writing her paper.
Every day for the next six days she got his good luck message before her paper began. Every night she messaged him, how her paper was that day and other events that took place during the day. He read them but never replied. Though she missed his responses, she was in high spirits. She entered the examination hall with his best wishes daily. She realised, for the first time she gave her examination, stress free. It had to suffice for now. But she never saw him on the ground after their meet in the café.
It was the last day of her exam; she had just finished her paper. It marked the end of her graduation studies. Once her yearlong internship was done then she was officially a qualified social worker. Her batch mates were already celebrating. They had planned some movie outing before going home. But she wasn’t interested. She left the class room as soon as she finished the paper. She was going home today after a weeklong stay in the hostel. She was walking towards the exit lost in thought… It was 2pm in the afternoon and the campus was isolated. She had just crossed the campus gates when a hand dragged her to the side. Before she could react he kept his finger on her lips. She looked at him wide eyed… moisture pooling in them. She hadn’t realised how much she had missed him…till then. Tears started flowing freely … she couldn’t control them any more…. The ten day pile up of emotions finally broke the barriers…
He pulled her to his chest and hugged her tightly kissing her head. He rubbed a hand on her back trying to console her.
After a few moments when her sob had subsided, he released her. He held her shoulders and kissed her forehead. He said, “Aam THsorry. Buhth aai caanth thse aafe anhimo. Aai..Aai luffa Yuu” (I am sorry. But I can’t stay away anymore. I…I love you)
She held his face and looked up into his eyes. “I love you so much it hurts. I… missed you… like hell.” She held his jacket lapels as if needing support. He smiled as he held her hands at the wrists. “Comm fith mei” (come with me). He took her toward the Royal Enfield bike. He gave her a helmet and put on the other one. He took her duffel bag and hooked it behind the bike. She had once mentioned how much she loved the bike. He had remembered. She sat behind him and hugged him tightly as they rode away. She didn’t ask him where they were going. She was ready to go anywhere so far as he was with her.
They rode for about half an hour and reached a beach. Shringar beach was a popular tourist spot in their city. There were many shacks lining the beach stretch. Since it was early afternoon most of the shacks were empty. He held her hand as they walked towards one of the shacks. He ordered lemonade… again her favourite. And they sat next to each other on the bench in a shack. They were facing the roaring waves. As they sipped the lemonade, he kept looking at her every now and then as if he wanted to say something but always looked away. All the time he kept holding her right hand fingers interlocked. Finally after about fifteen minutes she couldn’t hold it any more. She kept her lemonade glass on the table and turned towards him. He followed her and looked towards her. She saw his five o’ clock shadow and dark circles below his eyes. He looked tired as well.
“What is the matter with you? Why did you shut me off…?” she asked.
He looked at her lips as he lip-read her. He released a deep sigh. He then took an envelope out of his jacket and handed it over to her. The envelope had a pencil sketch of her face with hair blowing. It was beautifully drawn. He had mentioned his love for drawing in one of his messages. But this was very intricate….
She smiled and opened the envelope and took out a letter. She looked at him. He indicated her to read it as he stood and went to the opening of the shack. He leaned on the support bamboo hands in his jeans pockets. He was facing away towards the sea.
She opened the letter and began to read.
As much as I would love to tell you the following words, I can’t. I just can’t take a chance of the misunderstanding because of my speech. I can’t even explain what I went through these days without seeing you. You are my angel… my breath of fresh air… the sound of music in this silent world of mine. You are my sound of love… You are a dream come true…
She wiped her eyes as she continued to read…
… I was born with hearing impairment. My parents gave me the best possible life they could afford. Be it my hearing aids, my speech therapy sessions throughout childhood, my school and college education, my football … But I have faced shortcomings all my life because of my disability. People judge me for it even before they have known me. But honestly it didn’t make any difference to me. I have been an achiever in spite of bullying, ridicules. I was living a life, in its routine, happy with the silence, busy with studies… It was then I saw you few months back…
She suddenly looked up startled. When did he see her and where? She looked back into the letter.
…I saw you paint murals near the local garden in Shastri Nagar. I often go there to sketch the world around me. It’s cathartic. You were so full of enthusiasm in that crisp brown coloured trouser and navy blue loose fitting t- shirt… painting away to glory as if there was no tomorrow. I have so many sketches of you from that day. You have invaded my dreams so many times since in the same outfit… I thought it was the last I would see you. But fate had other things in store. I saw you a week later at mural exhibit near Mahima nagar. I was a volunteer this time. SIT was in charge of refreshments and logistics for the guests. I saw you in that white coloured gown. You just took my breath away. But how could I approach you? You would probably have looked the other way if I would have spoken. For once in my life I was scared… scared of breaking the fantasy that I had built around you….
For the first time in my life I hated my disability….
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