It was during our college picnic that I first saw him. He was not from our college but he was a friend of my classmate Ryta. We were in the third year of our medical school when we all decided, enough of studies and semesters, let us at least have an outing. We planned an overnight trip to the hills. Those hills had a medley of green assorted by the mystic hues of the passing clouds. The place also had a facility for adventure sports. We decided in the morning we will go for Biking, Paragliding, and Rappelling and in the evening we will have a bonfire and will sing and dance. We all had done our research on that place and agreed those hills were the picture perfect place for our adventure and also a break from our herculean projects and thesis work.
We were a group of fifteen girls and as the outing was not arranged by our college, all my friends had the privilege to bring their boyfriends. I was the only one who didn’t have a boyfriend to date. Those hills were located 100 km outside the city and the journey from our hostel to the hills was stem-winding. We didn’t have the luxury to hire an AC bus but our bus had open windows and we enjoyed the fresh air of the winter. It was early December; I was resting my head on the glass window pane and was enjoying the soft chill of the air. The seat next to me was unoccupied when he sat next to me.
“Hi, I am Abhishek, Ryta’s friend”. I looked at him and we exchanged pleasantries. Like me, he was also a medical student, had already completed the bachelor’s degree and was waiting for his results for post-graduation. I gave a quick look at him. He looked dishy, well defined cheekbones, had sharp almond shaped eyes, wore glasses, unshaven cheeks and also had a deep voice.
I was actually struggling for words when he said “All these years what I did was to study, my results will be out soon and if my scores are good I will go abroad for further studies, it’s very boring these days, nothing much to do.” “That’s the reason you joined us, don’t worry for your results, you will have good scores, I will pray for you” I replied smiling at him.
“Yes, to certain extent it is like a therapy to me, and waiting for my results is adding to my anxiety, and thanks for praying, I need that very much for my scores” he replied. I looked at him again. Does he ever smile? I thought. This somber looking guy, now he is joining us for picnic. Great!
I was enjoying the songs our cronies played with this stony faced man by my side when the bus made a screeching halt announcing for a tea break.
We all were so high with euphoria that I pushed his long legs to get down from the bus. The winter air was wispy and cold. It was like a freezing lace on my skin and I was sipping my tea when I heard that deep voice “Your scarf, you forgot in the bus”. “Hey, I am so sorry, umm actually, yea, I mean why don’t you join me for a tea?” I stammered.
He nodded and got his cup of steaming tea and returned. No this man will never smile, sigh!
Rubbing his hands on his cheeks he said “Do you love nature?” “We all love nature, don’t we?” I said
“Nope, not all, you are wrong,” he said looking at those pine trees. “Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked
How courteous stony faced man, I thought but replied “No, I won’t mind”.
My friends were all busy clicking pictures of them, those chirping birds, the lush greeneries and I am sitting with this somber man who is engrossed with himself. I wanted to join my friends and laugh when he said “I am a boring person, please join your friends”. Ouch, he read my mind but I politely said “No, no that’s perfectly okay, I prefer solitude like you.” Again a lie, but why did I lie? I didn’t have the answer for me.
Then without a warning he took out his cell phone and clicked my picture. “I am not ready, you should have at least given me a time to pose” I laughed. “Do laugh, keep laughing and give me pose to click your photos, why don’t you pose with the tress, but laugh” he said. Given to the fact I like to be photographed I instantly agreed and posed for the photos all the while laughing and giggling. I was taken aback when he started laughing as well. He would have clicked some more photos of mine when the bus honked that we need to start.
The journey to our destination was full of fun and this time Abhishek also joined in our games and songs.
By the time we reached it was already late and we were tired. There were small tents as accommodations; that was the beauty of this place. I shared my tent with Ryta when she asked “What did you speak with Abhi? That man hardly speaks, the only thing he knows is to study and worry for his results.” “Yes to certain extent even I felt that, but no he is also a good photographer” I said. “I see, photo shoot of you by Abhi, great!” Ryta said and left for shower.
The next morning we were out for adventure sports. I proved to be pathetic of the lot. I was scared of everything, rappelling – what if that rope betrays me? Paragliding – That’s scary, biking in the hills – that’s risky.
“Do you only know to laugh, I thought you are a brave lady” that deep voice. He is again reading my grey cells. Giving a nervous look I said “Let me try biking”. “Okay, let’s go together” he said. Then we started, the hills were treacherous and as usual I skidded and fell flat on the iffy ground. Abhi was much ahead of me, hearing the loud thumb he looked back and reached out to help me. I was all covered in dirt and also had bruised my elbow and had blood oozing from my cut lips. “Brave lady, this is how you bike” Abhi laughed. I was hurt and all of a sudden broke into loud sobs. “Come on, I just pulled your legs, laugh now that’s better” Abhi said tending to my bruised elbow and bleeding lips. “Badly injured, brave lady” he again laughed. Unable to bear my pathetic failure in biking my sobs got louder.
Without giving me a chance Abhi suddenly pulled me close to him, took me in his arms and kissed me hard on my lips. He also kissed my eyes rubbing my tears with his fingers he said “You look beautiful when you cry”. I was unable to control myself either. I didn’t realize I had also kissed him back, when he softly said “Let’s go back, you are hurt, better practice songs for the bonfire.”
I knew I had fallen in love with Abhi, I could not tell him. I shied. I returned to my tent, all I did was to write poems and songs for him. That evening when all gathered for bonfire I saw him, he was looking at me. Yes, he looked at me that entire evening. I could not sing, nor could I dance. The entire evening all our friends partied and we just looked at each other with unspoken words.
Next morning our bus left. All I thought was only of Abhi. This time he did not sit next to me. He sat with some other friend of mine and I could feel that stab of jealousy.
We returned to our hostel, all my friends were busy with their boyfriends and I was lost in Abhi’s thoughts when he came to me and said “Thinking about me? Same here I am only thinking about you. Wish you all the best, study hard, you need to focus on lessons.” I too wished him luck for his results and watched him leaving the campus. He looked back and waved at me and I too waved back.
I couldn’t get over Abhi but I prayed to God each day for his results, I didn’t have his contact, we never exchanged our numbers but I managed to get to know of him through Ryta. I also heard he has left abroad for his post graduation. I felt lost but I was very happy for him. He always wanted to fair well and I once again thanked God for answering my prayers. Though my focus was only on studies I still ached for him. At times the memory of that biking came rushing back and all I did was to write poems for him.
Three years later upon completion of my bachelors I was on my internship when I met with a fatal accident. The city hospital gave up all the hopes on me and I lay unconscious for weeks together and I was not even aware I was transposed to another city as I needed an extensive medical care to survive.
Lying in that hospital bead I was in and out of my delirium when I partially opened my eyes hearing that deep voice “Brave lady, don’t give up. I am here. Fight out. You always prayed didn’t you. So pray.” I could see him through my half closed eyelids. He was sobbing. I could see his white coat, I wanted to touch him but both my wrists were having cannula, I could barely move my lips but somehow managed to say “I don’t want to go either Abhi, don’t cry, pray for me, please pray, I am under your care and I know no one can snatch me away from you”. Breaking down in loud sobs Abhi said “I want to marry you right now, at this moment, you are my wife, keep fighting, you are my brave lady, you taught me to laugh, you taught me to love nature, don’t leave me and go away.” I was still incoherent when I felt he tied a Mangalsutra on my neck, he applied the vermillion on my knotty hair.
I was again going back to my sleep, I knew I am going to lose the battle I saw him with my gradually closing eyes sobbing bitterly resting his head on my chest, clutching me tightly when I spoke in broken words “See I am fighting, love recognizes no barriers, love never gives up, hold me really tight Abhi until the stars look big, never let me go Abhi, never let me go.”