By, Sanjay SG, Electrical 2010-14 batch
(From his blog, http://coalescentdissonance.blogspot.in/)
I still remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a cool September morning, the summer heat had finally subsided and autumn was beginning. The sky was covered with white fleecy clouds, gently flowing in the morning breeze and the Sun was mellow in its warmth, as if it was just waking up after a long night’s sleep. It was a great day to be out travelling and that’s exactly what I was doing. I had a few friends along and we were in the beautiful city of Vienna, with the whole day ahead of us to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city at our own pace. As with everything, each of us wanted something different from the city, to experience a unique facet of it first, and so we decided that we would part ways for now. I was still undecided on what to do, checking my backpack for a map and taking out my ‘to see list’, trying hard to figure out what to do when I first saw her.
I would have liked to recall this memory as love at first sight, that we knew that there was a spark between us the moment our eyes met, but it was none of that. We were two strangers, in a strange town, in a world that grew stranger by the day. We were people travelling along different paths, paths which were to meet due to some stroke of coincidence on that day. I was taking a breather, to clear my head, and that’s when I saw her. She seemed confused, lost, literally as well as figuratively in the throng of the city, but she seemed to be enjoying it too. Her feet were weighed down by indecision as to where to go, but that couldn’t weigh down the smile on her face. And that made it all the more irresistible, the quiet confidence she had in the fact that she could enjoy the journey, even though she was lost.
Maybe I was staring for too long, or maybe it was meant to be, but she looked up and she saw me. A part of my brain was yelling at me to look away and wipe that sheepish grin off my face, but I was too dazed to listen. I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I was half expecting an angry, indignant look that would say “Leave me alone, ******* “, but strangely enough that didn’t happen. She matched my smile, and for a moment I was the one who was left confused. Maybe she saw the map I was holding up, or maybe she sensed that I was lost too. She slowly walked towards me, and by some inexplicable force I started walking towards her too.
I always believed that the first words between two people were the hardest, but I was wrong. She spoke first, a cursory greeting, I replied. The small talk started, “The weather was great”, “The city was beautiful”, and it ended as quickly as it started. But the conversation didn’t. In a rare moment of intuition, I was left feeling that I could talk to her about anything I wanted and she could do the same too. Maybe she felt it too, and that could be why we couldn’t stop talking. We started walking towards the nearest landmark, a famous waterway from where we had to take boats that would take us our separate ways. But soon enough our words made us lose track of our steps. We lost our way over and over, but we were more lost in each other’s words.
And what did we talk about? Everything and nothing, all at once. We talked about our thoughts, our feelings, about our own lives. We talked about our past, our present and the future as we saw it. One conversation would open the door to another, one subject completely unrelated to the next. We talked about the things we had learnt and joked about the countless mistakes that had we made. We talked, and we listened and we laughed. About books and music and movies. About love and loss. And on and on it went, from the history of the place to World War III. The conversation went from the evolution of life to its eventual extinction. We lost track of time and our way, but never once did we lose track of each other’s words.
We finally arrived at the waterway and our paths were about to diverge. I knew that it would happen, yet I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of regret. Couldn’t we have taken a more winding road, couldn’t our paths cross for a longer time? We said our goodbyes, much like we said hello, “Stay in touch” and “Enjoy the journey” and we went our separate ways. But can we really move away when our mind stayed still?
From there on I was blind to the sights of the city and deaf to its music. I was lost again, in my thoughts. All I could think of for the rest of the day was the conversation we had, and how much we had left unspoken. I kept longing to hear her sweet voice and the melody it played to my mind. I missed the moments of silence that I enjoyed between the end of one conversation and the start of the next. I missed being able to talk and be listened to completely and unconditionally.
It was one thing to fall in love at first sight, to be bewitched by a person’s pulchritude, to be in awe of their beauty. But it was another to be enchanted by their words, to admire the beauty of their mind and the depths of their thoughts. If you could fall in love for no reason, couldn’t you as easily fall out of it? But if you were to be swept away the force of a person’s mind, by the sheer originality of their thoughts and the honesty of their feelings, then it is likely that you have found something equally precious. You would have someone whom you could talk to for hours on end, but not about trivialities or mere banter. You have someone to whom you could open your mind to, knowing fully well that they have opened theirs to you. And in their mind, you have a mystery to unravel, a treasure trove of wisdom to unearth, an unexamined land to know and understand. And just maybe, trying to understand them might help you find something about yourself that you never knew.
As I sat along the side of the boat, flowing along with the majestic Danube River, there was a mild spray of water cooling my face. There was a soothing breeze, bringing the salty fragrance of the ocean from afar. There was beauty to be seen all around, but my mind elsewhere, littered with doubts. There were so many things that I wanted to know about that beautiful stranger, so many questions that I wanted answers for. I wanted to know what her favorite color was and her favorite dish. I wanted to know what she felt after her first kiss. What was her take on life’s meaning? I would have done anything to know what she dreamed about. There was so much I wanted to know, so much I wanted to listen to, if only there was more time with her.
I was woken up out of my daydream, feeling terribly forlorn, by the buzzing of my phone. I wanted to be left alone, to be washed over by the wave of longing that I felt, yet the buzzing did not stop. I slowly brought myself to pick up the phone, taking my own sweet time with it. “Hello” the caller said in her sweet sweet voice, and there was a long pause. And in that moment, all of my pain vanished. My heart erupted with joy and the smile on my face showed it, and I knew that everything has changed.