It was towards the end of her sabbatical leave and a glorious Roman holiday in London for Monika, but was it an end of a newfound love…? Hallway near the front door in her flat, there were packed suitcases ready and padlocked for return journey to Colombo. Inside the bed room, the air was still, and the only sound was the ticking noise of an undulating pendulum of the clock on the wall. Inside her heart also seemed still. One more day to go, and she will be bidding good bye to her flat in London and most unwillingly to her new found love, Sunil.
Over and over again her memories went on reminiscing the sweet and short memories of the past six months. All such memories flashed through her mind like in a film for the umpteenth time, knowing that those were now slipping away rapidly.
In a few hours time, when the morning breaks out, the traffic will begin its mad rush on the main road to the airport. Monika will have to put the final touches to her hand luggage and be leaving her London flat for the last time heading towards the Heathrow Airport to catch her SriLankan Airways flight to Colombo.
Like many other Sri Lankans, Monika decided to fly SriLankan not because the airfare was any cheaper than other airlines, but everyone seemed to praise and prefer the national career for the friendly and courteous in-flight service. Of course, it was reassuring for her to know that unlike flying by other airlines she could enjoy a direct flight without having to break her journey in Muscat or Dubai for hours to change aircraft etc.
Sunil’s thoughts in the meanwhile were whether Monika would be saying a heartfelt and tearful goodbye to her friends but would she be able to do the same to him…? He could understand how she was so sad to leave him behind in London. She was not the kind who could take emotional shocks like that, therefore, she might decide not to see him at all before she left in the morning.
While in thought, Sunil was suddenly startled by an unexpected ringing of her cell phone. He looked at the display for a sign on his mobile to see who that could be calling him at that late hour. But the number wasn’t logged inside his phone book and only the word “call” splashed across the tiny screen. His heart started to pound wondering it might be Monika!
During the closeness of a six month’s intimate association, and from the very first meeting her on a London high street, Sunil had built up a kind of telepathy about various things in advance about her ! In Sunil’s memory her shoulder length hair, tall frame, curvy body, the tight fitting jeans and the white T-shirt, which exposed her prominent cleavage had managed to occupy a permanent slot as a souvenir from the very first sight of her on the road.
Had Monika felt that Sunil was sitting alone in his flat thinking about the short Roman holiday they enjoyed and all the fun they shared with laughter and tears ?
Sunil pressed the green button in his mobile phone and took the call
‘Hello’, he answered tentatively.
‘ Hi darling’, came out a sweet tingling voice. Despite the love he had for her, his spirits sank just a notch.
‘ Just a quick one darling, I’m using my friend’s mobile. Thought I’d ring and see how you are before I leave tomorrow early morning.
So, that may be the reason Sunil could not recognise the caller. He stifled a sigh
‘ I’m fine….’ He lied. But Monika wasn’t fooled. She could sense every feeling even when Sunil was attempting to cover his emotions up.
“Are you OK, dear ? Having any regrets”?‘About what ?’ A momentary guilt stabbed him in the chest that he should think that way.
No. No. It’s not that. It’s just…..’ He mumbled.
He nodded to the phone without realising that she could not see him.
‘Oh ! Monika…..’ His tone was sympathetic, caring and with full feeling of love. Silence reigned for a while between the two. Sunil could hear the sound of voices in the background.
‘ Oh sweetheart ! I’m sorry. I’ll have to go now. Nishanthi, my friend is visiting me and she has offered to take me to the airport tomorrow morning.
‘ Can I take you instead ?. At least that will give me a final chance to bid good- bye to you when we part – and only God knows how long before we will be able to see each other again…?’
‘Ok then, if you must. See you early in the morning. Bye, I love you.’
Sunil pressed the red button on his cell phone and finished her conversation with some hope. Somehow after her call, Sunil felt even more lonesome. He stared out of the window in to the dark from his flat wondering how to fill the rest of the time and life not knowing when, and if at all, will ever be able to be with her like that again !
During the past six months he had been living in a completely different world altogether, inseparable, as it were, most of the time. He could remember how from the moment he walked early in the morning at 6 a.m to her flat to wake her up, have breakfast together and then take her in his car to the City of London University. During the day how many times their cell phones were kept busy, even while she was engaged in her research work? Then in the evening he picked her up from her part-time work place and went to her flat again. Spent long evenings with her, enjoying her company and warmth, cooking, sharing the dinner, and watching television till late hours, holding hands until midnight, bidding good bye and going back to his flat to sleep.
‘It’s not good for me by just sitting here and brooding,’ Sunil muttered to himself finally, and went to bed as he had to pick her up early in the morning to transport Monika to the London airport.
In the morning the road was unusually deserted being a Sunday. Looking at Monika seated next to him in the front seat of his car, Sunil could visualise the number of times she travelled in his car in that position, smiling sweetly and stroking his left thigh. He remembered how both of them discussed their impending plight lately, which had to come to a head-on suddenly.
She was in England on sabbatical leave for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose. She had a lucrative established career at home as a professor of English at the university; a family, friends and full of responsibilities.
Sunil was a free man beaten and embittered by the lack of love from women. He had in fact written off the entire female species from his life until he was struck by Monika’s beauty, smile, charm and her Cock a doodle dolaugh.. He himself was baffled at times when he tried to figure out how he fell in love with Monika …..just like that – love at first sight… ! Perhaps providence was playing a game on him, he tried to understand. Equally Monika could not fathom how she, being a responsible and an educated mature woman could get caught to an emotional hurricane and got swept away so fast ! Was it their fate as Sunil thought……?
Were their lives going to take a twist into a three hundred and sixty-degree turn? Were all these going to be for their good or bad? Whatever the reasons may have been, they had a problem ahead of them. As much as they tried hard on several occasions to discuss the issue on a positive note to find a solution, it had become more and more complex and unresolved every time. Sunil and Monika had gone over this trauma over and over again. But it was too late now.., and Sunil has already dropped her at the airport and was travelling back.
Sunil in his confused mind still remembered how every time he became serious about it, and how Monika always suggested to take things easy with a philosophical note: “ Look Sunil, if it is to happen it will… and nothing can stop it.” She always used to say.
‘Perhaps she must have masterminded all this just to have a bit of fun’, a vicious thought flashed through Sunil’s mind at times. But again, when he recollected the way she treated him with oozing love and caring, all such notions became contradicted within his own confused mind. To Sunil the whole situation looked like the sun hidden behind a dark huge cloud.
Sunil hugged his arms around the steering wheel and remembered how he used to talk to Monika of the day he wanted to take her hand in marriage, although that would have been a few years into the future…….
‘ Oh yes ! I had planned out everything. She would go home and settle things and come back to me and neither of us would let another man or woman get in the way of our structured life’.
Sunil was thinking and driving focussing on the road traffic, which came in clusters intermittently, and then got even out at various intervals. Life is just like that he tried to compare their meeting and departure with that of the traffic flow on the road.
‘ My memories have turned into my own guilt’, Sunil was in deep thought. Suddenly he heard a voice in his ears:
“Sunil”! He sighed for a moment.
‘Am I imagining things or is it hallucination? – a sign of depression perhaps ! But there it was again …. ‘Sunil…. ! The voice sounded puffing in his ears. He would recognize definitely it as Monika’s voice…., but he had already dropped her at the airport few hours ago, and she was thousands of miles away now, still up in the air, tucked inside a cosy seat inside a modern airbus, probably sleeping, watching a video movie fixed onto back seat of the passenger seat in front of her, or thinking of me !’ Sunil gasped for a few moments, getting his breath back.
‘ So… she was so keen to go, hm ! eager to get away just like that…!. Perhaps she grew out of this busy, crowded and dirty London streets and all our memories ! Perhaps she grew out of me completely?’ Thought Sunil.
An awkward silence overcame the situation and some positive thinking entered his mind. He knew full well what made her come to London and thought it would be unfair to think badly of her.
‘I was just part of her, at least during the past six months! It’s true she has a whole new future ahead of her, new friends, new places, a new realm of everything. And how about me ….? I am the one who has to settle down with the dust now.’ He thought.
Sunil’s mind was working overtime as his past memory was playing havoc like in a cinema. He thought about how they walked together in the same direction, planning to go into the future. For him there was comfort having her beside him even though he did not understand fully the state of the play.
He remembered how her long black shoulder length hair flew behind in the gentle breeze. How many times had he stroked it, and how many times had he held her and kissed her gently and imagined the two of them to be one body one day ! He could not believe that she had gone now.
Sunil’s mind flashed through the question he put to her when she was about to depart from England at the airport. There was no accusation in her words, just
a sadness; a recognition of fact that every good thing in this transient world must come to an end!
He went back in his memory lane to the final stages of their conversation prior to her leaving London and thought about the way he took the chance to let go of his misplaced pride and put the final question to her strongly and bluntly.
“Don’t you like me, Monika?’ Don’t you think I’m the right guy for you ..?’
To his surprise she reacted hysterically with the same ‘cockadoodledoo’ laugh, but there was an ironic tone into it, Sunil thought. She was not laughing at me. She was laughing at someone or something else’, he thought.
“ Sunil, you are brave and you are after all a man! If there was a second chance in life, and given the choice of a million of men, you would be my Romeo, and the one I should be with. Life is cruel Sunil, it brings people together and then separates them in the most merciless manner, ripping their tender hearts out . Isn’t it funny that people in general in this world can’t get exactly what they wish to have or they dearly love…?
He remembered how she turned and looked at him in the eye at his question.
Then he remembered the final moments at the departure lounge at Heathrow airport when Sunil blurted, ‘Never would I want our bond to end this way Monika, never would I want to end at all… and lose you like this. Why did you do this to me?”
To his horror and amazement he remembered how she slammed the air with her fist. The anger was tangible, and he felt the goose-pimples rise on his arm. Fear embarrassed him in cold clutches convincing him that it was going to be a repeated performance of what they had gone through, over and over again, many a time before. For Monika, it was the time for her to throw at Sunil his own question as an answer.
‘Whydid you come to me….. my life…. may I ask ?
True, it was a harsh statement to expect from her in such a situation, and of all places at the entrance to exit lounge from the airport, but it was a spontaneous reaction triggered by her own wounded heart.
As soon as the question left her mouth Monika went through the passport control at the airport like a lightning without even looking back at him. Sure, she too was hurt, and did not want to leave him, and mostly she did not want to hurt herself further by having a last glance at him at their final moment of departure.
Sunil captured how her brown eyes glistening with tears. Feeling the pressure of emotion in his chest Sunil watched her going through the security barriers at a distance and disappear into the crowd behind opaque screens. Her words still reverberated in his ears:.
“ We have always done everything together during this unexpected short spell’ and you know Sunil that neither do I want to leave you and go like this, believe you me, it hurts me too.’
Walking towards the flat, getting off his parked car like a beaten dog, Sunil could hear the resonance of some of her statements when she was with him.
‘Why do you think I got mad when you kept on pressurising me and repeatedly asking the same question when I had explained to you over million times about our predicament, Sunil!
Sunil now likes to revive the final moments of Monika’s departure at the airport focussing on her gentle face, which had been absolutely devastated with tears rolling down her cheeks.
The end of summer may have come and gone but not the end of summer to my life or the end of the companionship with Monika. The castles I built in the air may be ruined by the changing hurricanes of fate, but the friendship I built up with Monika has deep foundations and it is here to stay in my heart and soul for ever! He constantly thinks.
pic Credit: google pics