Ghosts Of The Past

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He stood at the bus stop waiting for his bus to take him home from office. As he waited his mind was gripped by thoughts of her. It was raining and the drops were making noise on the iron sheets that covered the bus stop. The thoughts of her made that noise sound melodious to his ears. He longed to hold her in his arms.
The bus seemed to take a long time to come especially when he was in the hurry to reach home and tell her about his promotion. When he had not known her he was the most composed man but now after knowing her, things had changed and he used to wait eagerly to return home and share all happenings of the day. He had to admit that she was indeed a very good listener because he talked a lot. It seemed as if all his bottled up thoughts before knowing her, all the talks he could not talk to anyone since his childhood automatically came out of him whenever he was with her. She had a special charisma and he was really in love with her for the person she was. Aakash was a tall and healthy man, in his late twenties, tough from the outside and a child from within, an insecure child who was well guarded by the man he was from the outside. No one except Caroline had seen the real person Aakash was.

Finally after what seemed like eternity, his bus arrived at the stop and he climbed into it. He took the window seat and almost immediately took out his disc-man and played his favorite CD. As Caroline, in her melodious voice confessed her feelings for him a smile crossed his face. He was not aware that he was unknowingly staring in the direction of a girl who was looking at him and she answered his smile. With the kind of physique he had, Aakash seemed to be attractive for the opposite sex. It was only after some time that he realized he was looking at her. He smiled once again and turned to look outside the window. The CD was still playing in his ears, which blocked the sound of the rain but still the climate was very romantic. As his stop came near he put the disc-man inside his bag and walked to the door. Getting down at his stop he rushed to his apartment building. He would have loved to get wet in the rain if she had been with him, but now, he wanted to rush home. He missed her.

He checked the elevator… the ‘out of order’ sign was still hanging at the door. He climbed up the steps two at a time and reached his flat on the fifth floor. Hurriedly he opened the door with the keys he had taken out of his bag the moment he got down at the bus stop. He walked inside his flat… it was dark inside. He switched on the entrance lamp but the light did not glow. He walked in and checked the switch in the hall … no… there was no electricity. Feeling dejected he kept his bag on the sofa, removed his shoes and walked to the kitchen. He searched for the candle and lit it. He felt that the darkness in the room was his life and the candle was “she”. He walked to the bedroom and placed the candle on the desk next to her photograph. He moved his hand over the photograph and momentarily closed his eyes as if visualizing her in his mind. He switched on the table lamp so that he could know when the electricity was back. He lied down on the bed without changing his clothes and imagined how it would have been to smell her sweet perfume and feel her soft and scented hair on his face. He never knew when he slept.

When he woke up the table lamp was glowing. Immediately he got up from the bed and looked at his wristwatch. It was late… he knew Caroline must be waiting for him. He switched on his computer waiting impatiently as the welcome message showed up and then the programs loaded. He clicked on the connect-to-net icon and as soon as he was connected he logged in at yahoo messenger. Even before he could double click on her name a new window popped up, which showed her offline messages for him
Caroline: You are not home as yet :(
Caroline: Waiting for a warm hug, it is so cold here …
Caroline: Hello … are you there?
Caroline: How was your day?
Caroline: Hello! Good morning my love :x


He double clicked on the “waiting for a warm hug, it is so cold here…” message and sent her a hug
Immediately his window showed that she was typing a message

Caroline: You are late Aakash :( I was waiting for you since a long time. You know it; I like to start my day by talking to you
Aakash: I am sorry Carol. Had a tough time coming back home.
Caroline: Why? What happened? Are you ok? I even tried your cell… it was switched off!
Aakash: I am fine Carol. It is raining here. Unexpected rains… the bus got delayed, no electricity here :(
Caroline: And cell … why is it switched off? Is everything really fine over there?
Aakash: I AM FINE CAROLINE
Caroline: k
Aakash: My cell’s battery is empty and I forgot to recharge it.
Caroline: k
Aakash: Carol, I did not mean to be harsh.
Caroline: it is fine.
Caroline: Listen Aakash I gotta go. I would be late for the lectures. See you later.
Aakash: You leaving so soon? :(
Caroline: You were late Aakash … I will send you message when I get back from college. Let us see if we can chat again
Aakash: Fine
Caroline: Aakash…
Aakash: Yes?
Caroline: I love you
Aakash: I love you too
Caroline: Bye
Aakash: Bye


And she was gone.
All the while he was so eager to talk to her and when he got a chance to talk he messed it up. He knew she cared for him but sometimes he did not like when she kept on asking him whether everything was fine as if he was a small kid. He knew he had upset her by the way he answered and he repented for it now. He shut down his computer and walked back to the hall to get his bag. He took out his cell and kept it for charging, after some time he switched it on and sent message to Caroline “I love you”
He waited for some time for the reply but when it did not come, he got busy in his regular activities.

The moment Aakash replied in capital letters and especially used her full name; Caroline knew she had upset him. She knew he did not like to be treated like this but then she cared for him and in spite of trying several times she could not change this. In the beginning he too had liked being taken care of. He had told her so. She switched off the computer after some time and looked at Aakash’s photograph kept on her desk. She placed the fingers of her right hand on her lips and then moved it over the photograph placing her kiss on his lips. She got up from her chair and walked out of her bedroom.

Still thinking about the conversation Caroline walked to the kitchen and kept the coffee in the pot. She opened the front door and picked up the newspaper and walked inside towards the kitchen. She read the headlines as she sipped her coffee. She was not in a hurry as she had mentioned to Aakash but she was feeling ill at ease to chat because she knew when Aakash was in a bad mood it was always good to leave him alone. But was he upset? If yes, why was he upset? She placed the mug in the sink and walked to her bedroom. She picked up her cell to send him a message and she found that she had a message from him. As she read the message her lips curved into a smile. She replied, “I love you too”

She waited to see if he has something else to say. When she did not get any further message, she removed her nightgown and walked to the bathroom. She let the bathtub fill with warm water and till then she looked at herself in the mirror. Her light brown eyes stared back at her through the vapor that had started to form on the mirror. The mirror told her that she had a perfect figure. She was tall and slim, adequately filled at required places. She had a fair skin, clear, without any mark anywhere except for few marks on her belly. Sign of the past she had buried with her own hands. As if the mirror too wanted to block that part of her memory it was now completely opaque with the vapor. She was glad because she too did not want to think about it. She was aware that she had a figure anyone would fall for. She had even received offers to be taken to bed. It seemed completely strange for her to believe that someone could fall in love with her for what she was and not for what she had to offer in bed. The bathtub was filled with water now and she stepped into it and allowed the warm water to caress her body. Unknowingly she thought of Aakash and smiled as she thought to herself how much she would have loved being with him at this moment. She closed her eyes and fantasized about what would have been the course of the events if he had been there with her. Suddenly, somewhere in the background she heard an alarm. On opening her eyes she realized that it was the alarm she had set to remind her that it was time to hasten her steps to get ready for the lecture. Hurriedly she stepped out of the tub, cleansed herself under a shower and then wrapping herself in towel walked out of the bathroom.

She put on warm clothes and wore a scarf around her neck. Picking up her bag, her cell and the car keys she walked out of her house. As she got into her car she checked her cell again. There was no message from Aakash. She wheeled the car out of her garage and begun her day. The city was familiar to her yet it seemed unfamiliar and distant. Though she had lived in Los Angeles since her childhood, she was Indian by birth; also her mother was an Indian. Caroline was in her mother’s womb when her parents had got divorced. As a child Caroline never knew about her father till the day her mother was on deathbed and had mentioned about her father for the first time ever. Caroline was 8 year old at the time her mother had died leaving her in custody of the Father Joseph of the local church who had written to her father to come and legally accept Caroline. The days she waited for her father were painful but perhaps less painful than the days she spent with him. Caroline pushed hard on the brakes of the car as her eyes were blurred with tears and she was about to hit a woman crossing the street. She quickly gained her composure and apologized to the lady. She started her car again and wheeled towards her college without any further thoughts of her past.

The sudden remembrance of her childhood days was perhaps the result of her already spoiled mood due to the chat with Aakash. She tried to brush aside the thoughts but the damage was already done and she was now feeling sad and did not wish to attend the lecture under pretext of which she had discontinued her chat with Aakash. By the time she had made up her mind she had reached her college campus. She entered the campus, wheeled her car around, circling the campus once before she left it behind to go to her favorite place, which she frequented when she wanted to be alone.
The moment she reached the place she could feel the calmness of nature in her body. The serenity of the place offered her peace of mind she so desperately needed. She also had to provide outlet to her accumulated tears because she had learned a long time ago that withheld tears scarred the heart. She shut off the engine of the car, which was the only sound in the vicinity. Suddenly everything was so quiet and she could feel the beats of her disturbed heart till the time her body absorbed the peace that this place offered. She sat in the car for some time before stepping out and walking towards a nearby bench. She looked around the place. There was nobody around except for her and the birds on the nearby tree nestling and absorbing the peace, as she did.

Ghosts Of The Past - II


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