Do not be satisfied with the stories that are told to you. Unfold your own myth – Rumi.

Remember Me…

It was not the normal cold that morning.

It was different. Something more, something approaching freezing but not there yet. It was a feel-miserable kind of cold, as if the morning knew what was coming, and was preparing for it.

My phone rang around 6. I wasn’t asleep, nor awake, nor dreaming. Whatever I was, I wasn’t ready.
It was a friend from University. I could only remember snatches from that conversation later. It wasn’t even a conversation – he talked for two minutes as I felt my heart grow cold like the wind outside.

I was running even before my eyes could adjust to waking up. Nandita, jogging, accident, hospital. The words repeated themselves like a cassette stuck in my father’s old Panasonic tape recorder.

I ran.

This is not happening. This is not happening.

My mind, bewildered and shocked into a state of mind I’ve never known, kept repeating the line, as if by doing so, I would wake up from the dream & after some time, laugh at it all.

I didn’t wake up. This was no dream.

The antiseptic whiteness of the hospital welcomed me, the neon lights lit up in a morbid smile at the nurse’s desk. “Nandita”, I blurted out, letting my hastily wiped away tears do the rest of the talking. “She’s being operated upon”, she added as she told me where to go.

Operated upon? Nandita? My Nandita? Oh fuck.

Oh fuck.

Her parents were there, the professor and the banker. And Rohan was with them.

He nodded at me. I nodded back.

He came up to me. “Milk van”, he said, through pained, lost eyes. “The driver was drunk”. I nodded again. Both of us stood together in an awkward expression of mutual tragedy.

Until it all became too much for me. I ran to the rest room and threw up.

I was asleep on the stairs in the hospital corridor, my classmates standing around me, when she died.

I never said goodbye.

The days that followed remain blurred. It must have been day later, I think, when I went to our empty classroom on a whim, sat down at my desk, looked at her place, and promptly lost it.

I rushed outside and walked to the far end of the playground, where, guarded by that minor mass of young humanity, I could sit down and let it all out. I looked out into the distance, the running and the shouting and the crack of cricket bat against ball and the sound of footballs being kicked all dissolving into one huge din of background noise. All I could feel was a hole in my chest. Unable even to cry, I just looked.

Into nothingness.

Because that was all I had now.

Nothing.

How did ‘us’ happen? We were in our third year, not exactly spring chickens. We were bookworms, the both of us, romantics, yarn-spinners, prolific walkers, put together in a class by an irritating professor who will never know what she started. There was a time when both of us forgot that there was such a thing as time. But before that day, I’d never given the girl with the glasses a second thought.

It was a Friday afternoon, and it was raining, a few drops of which found their way inside through the window onto our desk. Both of us weren’t writing anything, and as we sat there, each of us in a world of our own, my bored eyes found the book in her satchel. I pointed at it, & she passed it to me silently, almost reverently.

It was Murakami. Norwegian Wood.

I turned the pages of the well worn book, one of those lovely old editions you find at second hand bookshops.

I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?

She had underlined this sentence.

It was 11 by the time I said goodbye to her and started walking back to my hostel. She called at 11:03.

I talked to her all night and met her for breakfast at the University canteen next morning. I talked to her all day and all night again and took her out to the town on Sunday. We only stopped talking on Monday morning. Because we had classes to get to. And we resumed immediately when the classes got over.

I had never talked to her before. Not once.

It was sorcery. Magic of a kind that had never happened to me before.

And it went on and on. It just never stopped.

Until it did.

It was three months since that rainy day, the day a book brought us together in a way we could not understand, let alone try to explain.

It had been four days since the drunk driver of a milk van had run down a girl out for a jog on a winter morning.

I was sitting on the lawn opposite the canteen, when I made out the shape of Rohan walking in my direction. I wished he would go away. I did not want to talk to anybody, least of all him. But he kept coming, a faraway figure coming into focus as he came nearer and sat next to me.

It was some time before he talked. “You okay, man?”, he asked. I just nodded. “His parents don’t know about you, they still think she and I were together”, he said. I nodded again. I knew all this. He knew I knew all this.

Not that I didn’t want her parents to know me. Not that I didn’t feel like shit when they consoled a crying Rohan. Not that I didn’t want to tell them that we were together, had been for three months and loved each other in a way that could only be described as madly.

I did, I wanted all of it. But I had no spirit in me to tell them. They were grieving, as I was, and they had enough to think about. They’d brought her up, from when she was a baby to a child to a young woman. I’d known her three months. Three roaring months, yes, when we did not know where she ended and I began. But three months nevertheless. 90 days. It felt so short when I put it that way.

He started to walk away. The he turned, & said “Wait here”.

I didn’t say anything.

He came back in an hour or so, by which time I’d forgotten that he had asked me to wait. I was still sitting there on the lawn, as the winter air enveloped me.

“Here”, he said, “Her books. Her parents gave them to me. You should have them.”

I took the satchel from him, the touch of it sending me into world of pain. I showed him none of it, though, as I got off the lawn and walked away.

I held them close to my chest, as close as I could without choking, as I cried on the walk back to my room. The darkness hid my tears and I was thankful. I didn’t want pity or consolation. I’d had more than enough of it.

I opened her satchel. She loved Murakami most of all, as I did. But she also loved Dostoyevsky, Pasternak and the master, Gogol. I’d never read the Russians, but she worshipped them. There were five books in it, of which one I’d given her. The rest of her quite sizable library was at her parent’s home, I knew. A pang of regret stung me again. I should have known them, I cursed myself. I should have.

But we thought there was time, another voice said.

There seemed to be so much time.

I took out the books one by one. There was Doctor Zhivago, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, the book I’d given her – IQ84, and lying at the bottom, oblivious of everything it had done, was the old, tattered copy, of Norwegian Wood.

I knew it was there in that satchel of hers. I knew it the moment Rohan gave it to me.

I took it out and turned the pages to find a particular sentence the girl I loved had considered beautiful enough to mark, and remember.

I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?

Even as renewed tears rushed out and dampened the page, already tainted with the stain of a memory it would have to carry forever, I wrote one word beside the line her pencil had made.

Yes.

Advertisements

34 responses

  1. Deepak Gupta

    spellbound. till that last word 🙂 you’re just getting better and better sai 🙂 and my photos have never looked so richly. desolate.

    November 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks you so much Sir..!

      November 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm

  2. Veena

    Touching!!

    November 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm

  3. Oh. This is very moving.

    November 28, 2012 at 6:39 am

  4. First of all, I’m glad this is fictitious.
    Second of all, for a fictitious story, you’ve done a pretty good job with portraying such sad yet powerful emotions.

    Very very moving.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:02 am

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks Tanya.. I’m glad it’s fiction too!

      November 29, 2012 at 10:54 am

  5. Nambirajan

    oh fiction ah…

    man you moved me close to tears.

    you reminded me of my love story.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Oh! Sorry Nambi, I don’t even know what to reply to this.

      November 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

  6. I have just one thing to say: Oh My God. And I don’t even believe in God. This touched a raw nerve, maybe given what I have been through recently.

    November 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      I know Sucheta.. I know.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:14 am

  7. Cshipra

    hi…beautifully written….Take my advice…write a novel….get it published….there are so many of them… shristi publishers, pageturn publishers, prakah book publishers, jaico publishers, rupa publishers, hachette india, evergreen publishers,etc…i have done quite a research on them…always wanted to write something but never got around to it… and here you have an inborn talent…for heavensake! write a novel and get it published!!! And believe you’ll get your own fan following 🙂

    November 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Woah.. Cshipra, that is quite a big undertaking. But yeah, I’ll take you up on this, I will.. 🙂

      November 30, 2012 at 7:15 am

  8. smita

    well..i juz donn hav enough words to explain what i felt 🙂 i m speechless…wanted to read more…. n thank god its fiction..
    donno but your words connect straight to heart..:P

    December 1, 2012 at 12:41 am

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks Smita..!

      December 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm

  9. vaidegij

    That was a beautiful piece of art!

    December 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks you so much!

      December 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

  10. Reema Asnani

    Hi, reading your work for the first time.simply beautiful & very moving blog. Envy the gift you have, to be able to write so well.keep writing.looking forward to reading more from you

    December 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thank you Reema.. Absolutely..! 🙂

      December 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm

  11. Very well written and I loved how you slipped in the quote from Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. A wonderful read.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks a lot Subroto!

      December 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  12. well written mate….a nice read..Will be coming here regularly

    December 4, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks a lot Tushar!

      December 5, 2012 at 5:57 am

  13. Just as beautiful as it could be ! Glad its a fiction though 🙂 Will be back for more

    December 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thanks a lot..!!

      December 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

  14. Fantastic ! Kept me reading till the end. You definitely have a knack for it !

    – Asha

    December 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thank you so much Asha!

      December 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

  15. Fatima J

    What a post ! What a writing ! Thanks a ton:-) Sense of burden is drifting my heart 🙂

    December 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thank you!

      December 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

  16. deepika

    wow..spellbound….its too good…just loved it…and really thank god that its fiction!!

    January 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thank you!

      January 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm

  17. Rajeswari Dinesh

    One of the most poignant short stories I have ver read!! Sai, just like everyone else, I am indeed glad that it is fiction. But little did I know that it is fiction when I was reading it. Now, that’s ur success. I really do not know how u brought in all those emotions and the heart-wrench in the story when it is just fiction?? Amazing, Sai. Excellent piece of work. As Csipra says, u shoild write many novels, but I guess u can start with one 😉 And if u do write novels,I sincerely hope u would entrust the honourable task of an editor/proof reader to me. 🙂

    March 9, 2013 at 11:26 am

    • Sairam Krishnan

      I have to write it first, yes? 🙂 Thanks a lot..

      March 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

  18. The Master,
    someone who reads the classics.
    You sir, shall take the wold by storm one day.

    April 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    • Sairam Krishnan

      Thank you, stranger. You just made my day!

      May 1, 2013 at 8:56 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s