A calm topaz sea, illuminated like crystals in the sunlight. Everything was completely visible and peacefully serene, yet without the source of light in the clear sky, the time of the day was hard to predict.
Neal was standing at the beach, waiting. Although he came into consciousness just at the moment, it felt as if he had been waiting since ages. Perhaps because it had been a long time seeing Marisa. It was his first visit here, but everything was so familiar as if he had been here many times before.
Waiting for Marisa, intuitively knowing she could be there at any moment, he looked at the calm sea. The sea waves were drifting in and out in a rhythm, as if composing music. The sound of water was indeed a melody. He slowly breathed and filled fresh salty air in his lungs. It was fulfilling, but the emptiness of missing Marisa was quickly digging everything out again. He missed her so much.
Then she was there. He turned to his right and found her slowly walking toward him from a distance. His heartbeat quickened, but he waited for her.
Gently putting her bare feet one after another on the golden sand, Marisa came closer, leaving behind a long trail of footprints. She met his eyes and smiled.
Neal found his heart pumping love all over him. He looked at her, and all his emotions surfaced. He waited even though he couldn’t wait anymore, and watched her coming forward like a wish. Her hair falling perfectly on her shoulders, her long white gown skidding on the sand behind her, her big dreamy eyes a sign of life, and her lips as inviting as ever. She came closer, and closer, like a beautiful poem composing itself.
Neal took a breath, stretched his hands, and she succumbed in his arms. She was warm, and soft, and delicate. She made him come alive.
Neal softly caressed her hair, moved his fingers on her arms, then held her face.
He looked into her eyes and softly moved his thumbs on her cheeks. Her slightly warmer ears met his fingertips. He kissed her slowly, peacefully, as if he was sure of a lifetime to spend with her, as if she was his life. The sense of completeness filled his heart. She kissed him alike, slowly and softly.
She whispered the words in his mouth. ‘I missed you so much,’ and made his heart beat exponentially.
‘I missed you too,’ he said.
Neal slipped his hand on her waist as simultaneously she turned beside him. She rested her head on his shoulder and they began walking parallel to the waves.
‘Is she still not talking?’
‘No,’ he said, his voice low.
‘She is really out of her mind. Doesn’t she know she’ll never find anyone like you?’
‘I have no idea why she is so heartless. I only want her to talk for ten minutes and I’ll make it alright.’
‘I know you’re really good at that.’ She smiled. ‘Did “Together Forever” work?’
‘I’m not sure if she even read it.’
‘She must have.’
Neal stopped and took a step ahead, facing her. He held her hands and asked her, rubbing his thumbs on back of her palms. ‘Tell me, what should I do to get her back?’ There was pain and need in his voice.
Marisa gently blinked and smiled at him. ‘I don’t know.’ She felt sad for his misery.
‘Come on, she is you in the real world. Who else can tell me better what’s going on in her mind?’
‘Oh dear, I have no idea.’ She squeezed his hands. She felt his pain.
Vulnerable, he looked at her face. She was telling the truth. ‘Can’t you go in her dreams and tell her I really need her?’ he asked impatiently.
‘That’s not possible.’ She shook her head. ‘I can come only in your dreams. She’ll dream some other part of her…not me.’
‘Oh,’ he couldn’t believe he had lost his only hope. He looked at her blankly. Ah, the irony: she was in his arms and still he was missing her so much. There was no way out of this misery.
Since Neal resigned, his managers’ behavior went even more idiotic. After his resignation, when clients praised him for his services, managers didn’t find those worth applauding. However before the resignation, they emailed words of encouragement back and forth dozens of times.
Neal always knew he worked with worst kind of management people, most of them had licked their way up the ladder and had no significant qualification or abilities. But he never expected they could’ve been this shitty. He thought at least they had minimum sense and professionalism. He realized he had never ever been so wrong.
It was the post-resignation segment of his tenure. Now, Neal was not even invited in the meetings when other people of his designation were a constant part. He completely failed to understand his manager’s mindset. Did he suddenly deplete all his abilities to give productive ideas, or there was something terribly wrong in him, or did he betray everyone by his resignation? Neal few times discussed with Ashwin the logic of it all. Ashwin had nothing to say except some exquisite profanities.
More than this idiocy puzzled Neal, it made him happy; for finally he was spared from all those time-wasting meetings and could better plan his day in office. A meeting with managers was always a waste of time. As if they didn’t have anything else to do entire day, whenever few people gathered, they talked longer than necessary, mostly nonsense. A baseless, out of topic, and extremely stupid idea always pleased them, while a kickass one that could’ve instantly solved problems and ended the debate, turned them off and they never considered it for ninety-nine percent of the meeting time. And the one who laughed on their jokes got a ‘+1’ and those who didn’t, always ‘-5’.
Neal joked saying perhaps stupid people like his managers felt their brains ache when they tilted their heads. There must be some loose crap in their skulls that stopped them from using their brains or make a right decision. He wasn’t sure about the crap, but they had to have something different for being so stupid. Otherwise who had brain, used it time to time.
When Neal had decoded their incapability with sense, what he failed to understand was their consistency with wrong decisions. Can’t there be a lucky guess? He wondered why couldn’t the managers even mistakenly made a mistake and accidently did something right. It was like Almighty had patiently coded them with stupidity, and making sense was against Nature’s law.
Neal should have, but he didn’t want to know the reason of his exclusion from everything important. First: because there was no point and second: because this way, he got more time around Marisa. He thought he could’ve afforded to lose little bit of professionalism when almost everyone around him was busy making tatters of it.
But it was just not the beginning; in fact, this stupidity, corruption, and shame had a long glorious history. A day in the past, when Neal was having lunch with Marisa in cafeteria, little away from them Kamlesh was eating with his counterparts and subordinates. When Kamlesh and other five fat-asses couldn’t completely consume all their ordered food, Kamlesh had approached Neal with leftover in a plate and shamelessly requested him to help them finish. With his large belly, weak shoulders, and food in his mouth, he looked extra disgusting.
Staring at his face, Neal had felt a strong desire to insult him for such a thoughtless gesture that no doubt Kamlesh must’ve found so brilliant, but he controlled his anger and said he wouldn’t be of any assistance. Still, Kamlesh insisted and left his plate on his table which later he dumped in the trash as is.
It had made Neal extremely annoyed.
‘Marisa, do you know Kamlesh joined iCorp ten years back as a trainee?’ The sarcasm and annoyance dripped all over him.
‘Really? I didn’t know that.’
‘Yes, and he worked so hard to get into this position.’
Marisa grew dubious. She didn’t know if Neal really meant to praise Kamlesh after he insulted him. ‘How do you know?’ She asked in confusion.
‘Come on, look at his ass. How do you think, it grew so big?’ Neal quipped. ‘Doesn’t it scream of his looong struggle?’
Marisa watched his face for a moment then she burst into laughter; so hard that her cheek-muscles hurt. She couldn’t stop giggling for rest of the day.
Gautam opened his eyes with his hands on his stiffened, clogged chest. He knew his lungs had enough tar, but there was something else too that gripped his molecules. It was loneliness. Although he hated waking up like this, it had been the only feeling that never left.
His eyes hurt as they do after a long day out in heat and dust. But now the pain was simulated by a nightmare. He weakly shifted in bed and lay on his stomach, feeling the weight in his skull slowly shifting toward gravity. His face pressed on the mattress.
In the dream, it was his parent’s house. He felt in the vibes that Subha was around. That was what made him catapulted from his room in the long corridor he never knew existed. There were many rooms at both sides.
The walls felt supple; the floor felt supple; and everything around him looked like a black & white oil painting, where every shadow had its edges blended in grey. It was hard to find a beginning or an end. The echoing voices reminded him of the place in space where all the voiced gathered and repeated on a loop.
As he stood confused, he saw a silhouette entering the first room. Struck with familiarity, a lump in his throat twisted. He went after it. Although he wanted to rush, he couldn’t increase his pace. Anxiety overwhelmed him, but strangely, he didn’t feel his heartbeat.
Gautam squinted across the crowded room that silhouette entered. He took his time, but it was a waste. It wasn’t there. Then he found a door connecting another room. What the hell! He instantly recalled that the rooms were all connected from within.
He moved to the adjacent room’s door and squinted again. It wasn’t there either. He moved to another. No. Then another. No.
Gautam searched through every room before he found himself standing in a hugely crowded living room. Who are all these people? He didn’t think was a question worth wasting time.
He struggled for breath. It was daytime, he could feel, but his vision was still a blur. He rubbed his eyes and squinted across the blending shadows. He didn’t find it.
Then he did. He followed as the silhouette moved outside.
Outside, a black wriggling trail stretched beneath his feet, which he thought must be the charcoal road; an endless grayish something wriggled above his head with a white, hot but blur, object at ninety degrees. Feeling humidity, Gautam rubbed his eyes, frustrated with his hazy vision, and squinted at all the black and white and grey shadows those swiftly moved around. Nothing familiar.
He tried again, this time harder and minutely scanned every shadow, near and far.
Then he saw it swaying away from him. He fixed his gaze and moved in its direction.
For the first time, his heart churned. He wanted to talk; wanted to say that how long he waited; that how much he still loved. But with his rising anxiety, the charcoal beneath his feet diluted, taking him in. He struggled for pace, struggling with vision and breath.
Then the silhouette stopped. His heartbeat quickened feeling it looking at him. He raised his hand as a signal to wait and crawled in the charcoal dragging him in.
Somehow he still managed to move. The distance shrank a little and the silhouette got bigger. He felt his heartbeat load and clear now.
‘Wait,’ he called.
It was then the silhouette turned from him. It rode two big circles, paddled, and faded away.
A warm tear felt like lava on his nose as it made its way out, despite Gautam tried holding it back. He couldn’t understand why everything turned so negative. Why he couldn’t see Subha or talk to her in his dreams anymore.
Photo Credit: menoevil