Saturday, October 3, 2009

Aajmal's Story

Aajmal took out a plastic envelop from the deep of his drawer. It contained a bunch of photographs - some in black and white, and some in colours - of a boy and a girl in a restaurant of south Kolkata. Aajmal stared at the photographs for a while. Jayita was looking as beautiful as ever in her aasmani salwar, smiling at Aajmal from the photograph. She bought the digital camera just the day before, and inaugurated it with Aajmal. 'My best friend would be the first to be captured by my camera', she said,' and I shall treasure the picture forever', looking straight into Aajmal's eyes... she had such beautiful, magical eyes.

But there was a difference. Aajmal realized that he was only looking at the pictures from a distance. He was suddenly aware of the fact that the moments captured in those pictures are over. It was like waking up from a very sound sleep. Indeed, he woke up from a long-due sleep minutes ago. Aajmal smiled grimly, sat in silence for a while, and then took out his lighter from his shirt-pocket.

He had tried to do this before - may be hundreds of times - and failed. He knew that he had copies of those photographs online..they were mailed to him by Jayita. So burning those picture did not mean losing them. But every time he lit up his lighter, he got scared. The pictures were his refuge from reality - he could not destroy them.

But now things were different. Aajmal could feel it. He knew that the enchantment of those pictures could no longer hold him from destroying them. He was confident and more content than ever. He flamed the first one. It burned..just like any other piece of paper. Aajmal let out a sigh of relief, and flamed the rest including the envelope.

He opened the window and a blast of wind took the ashes away.


****

Aajmal saw Jayita in the chemistry class for the first time. She was a maths honours, like him. She looked frightened on the first day in college, like him. She came searching for a seat, spotted the one beside Aajmal's, sat down and smiled shyly at him, like he did. And they became friends.

Like every other friends, they studied together, bantered long by telephone and tasted papdi chat, fuchka and different flavours of ice cream at roadside stalls. Aajmal knew that he could tell everything to her, and thought she would tell everything to him. They were best friends - everybody knew that - but just friends, thank you very much. Jayita had a boyfriend from high school, and Aajmal had a girlfriend in college. Yet, Aajmal sensed a necessity for Jayita..he did not know why.

By the end of college, Jayita broke up with her boyfriend. She did not pour Aajmal with the necessary details, but her grim expressions were revealing the worst. Once again Aajmal became her refuge, and then they parted. Jayita went abroad for higher studies, and Aajmal took a job. His relationship also was not going smoothly enough. His girlfriend was too possessive and did not like Jayita at all. They had a row concerning Jayita, and she left Aajmal.

That was Aajmal's first break up, but surprisingly it did not hurt much. Instead, he felt totally empty..no friends, especially the absence of Jayita was killing him. He felt as if his shelter from the dry reality was taken away from him..and that was the first time he realized that he loved her like he loved nobody else in his entire life. When did he crossed over the barrier - he never knew.

They talked at least twice a weak, but Aajmal could never express his feelings to her. He did not know whether she loved him..and he could not ask, for he feared of losing a friend if she said no. He tried to talk to her normally, laugh heartily, and maintain the same warmth they once had between them, which he found tougher than he thought.

Aajmal became obsessed with the uncertainty whether Jayita loved him, or not. He tried to interpret Jayita's words when she spoke to him, and his bias started to lead him into a world of hope. He grew immuned to sleep. He realized that he earned an extra eight hours a day which he needed to spend. He took printouts of some images that Jayita once sent to him. At night, he sat wide awake staring at the photographs, talking to them as if Jayita was sitting in front of him. Slowly this obsession extended, and he started keeping the photographs in his pocket all the time. He tried to call her up every other day, and started to become restless if, for some reason, his calls were not answered.

Apart from this intense obsession, he was completely normal. He talked to everybody normally, played with his nephewes, went to movies and spent time with his friends. He himself could realize that the growing obsession for Jayita was not good for him, but he could not help being vulnerable. At those rare occasions when his good sense dominated over his paranoia, he told himself that he would better stop thinking about Jayita for his own good, but he could not. He tried to destroy the pictures a number of times, but failed. The fear of losing her was intolerable.

Time passed, and it was almost a year from the day when Jayita left. One day, Aajmal was getting ready for his office when Jayita called. He picked up the phone with joy, and greeted her. But to his surprise, Jayita sounded different. She seemed uncertain about something..Aajmal could sense it. He asked and reasked if anything was wrong, and Jayita said that a guy from her class proposed her.

Aajmal's heart missed a beat. He fell into silence for a second, and then asked, ' What did you say?' He already knew the answer.

When he put the phone down, he was feeling sick. Something was trying to come out of him..his grief may be. But surprisingly, he was feeling lighter than ever. He went to the basin, and vomited. Then he scampered to his bed, and fell asleep.

Aajmal slept as if he had never slept before. He slept for the entire day and half of the night. When he woke up, he was feeling weird. He tried to think about what had happened. He felt sorry, for Jayita loved somebody else. Yet, he was happy. He still loved Jayita..but it was different. The spell had been broken, and he was free. Jayita will not love him, but he will..after very many days, he felt certain.

He turned the light on, put the key of the drawer into the keyhole, and turned the key.