“It’s been three months since R has come here. I used to be in the other wing and incidentally overheard it a few weeks back – “I remember the empty apartment. I remember even the color of the mattress that I had used for the evening, and trashed. But I don’t remember her face!”
He was crying – palms covering ears and portion of head; mouth open as if he’s screaming but no sound came out; face painted in unbearable pain! I was shocked! I’ve seen people cry – after demise of near ones, and in other situations, too. I’m trained to remain unmoved. He nearly made me cry. I rushed into his room.
The next time I saw him, he was flirting with my colleagues. Some of them would feel offended, some amused, some serious. I said, “Seems that you are feeling lot better than last evening. Wonder if we should have a part time accommodation for you! You need to spend only the evenings here.”
“No one ever told me anything with such authority. Not at least someone as beautiful as you” he chuckled.
When I switched my wing and got myself into taking care of five persons in this wing including R, some colleagues saw something more than ‘professional curiosity’. But the improvement in the conditions of all the five was evident. The reason was not I, it was WE. R and I took care of four of them, and I took care of R. I made it a point not to let R be alone during evening. We talked a lot. Crap, in general. But I was also eager to know why he is here and that proved difficult to find out. Not that R was particularly reticent, but he spoke way too much and generally in his own ‘style’. His style was to elucidate things with unintelligible similes. The worst part was, he used to take pride in the fact that I wouldn’t understand his silly metaphors!
“When N would get angry over my flirting with others, I’d tell her – my love is like sunlight, nearly infinite people may have it without anyone’s share being reduced”
“Wouldn’t you like to add something to it now – ‘but my lover is not supposed to practice this kind of love’?”
I thought I was being funny, but that was a mistake. The damage had been done.
We had a day-long chat the first time I served his morning coffee. Fresh out of sleep, he gave me a strange look that had surprise, apology, ecstasy, …… and mostly love. “What are you looking at?” I asked. He took a while to come back to ‘now’ and ‘here’. Went to the desk, and came back with a sketch of a bottle of ‘Nescafe’. I felt that I’d die of curiosity. “Tell me about her who made this sketch. Enough with the stories of P and S and N and ……….” I had started with such zeal, and managed to end with a poker face. Wonder if he noticed the change! “What’s so special ‘bout her? Why can’t you forget her like you’ve forgotten others?” For the moment it wasn’t in my mind that I’m there merely to take care of him. It felt as if he was hiding from me the mystery of creation of the universe.
“Well,” he said, “the reason is, SHE is my memory. You got it?”
“You think you can fool me with these vague answers?” I was getting impatient.
“No. Ok, let me put it this way – I wanted to say, in plain words, she was my everything. I loved her w-a-y more than what you may think is the limit of loving someone.” He seemed genuine. “It was insanely intense. I was getting devoured by an endless expanse of quicksand, painstakingly slowly. I was getting paranoid. And I didn’t get her yet. Not that she ever denied that she loved me, too. But I wouldn’t bear her thinking about someone else, missing someone else. I’d even catch her every word, every smile – and put it somewhere safe lest it should reach some others’ eyes or ears.”
“But, why did it end? Did she ever hurt you?”
“Well, purists will disagree if I say ‘infinite number of times’. Let’s settle for one less than infinity.”
“Now, aren’t you contradicting yourself?”
“Ok, lemme think something in my defense. Meanwhile bring me another cup please”
“I’ve bought French Vanilla flavor for you. Will bring another cup at once” The mood had changed. And I must write down the conversation that followed French Vanilla!
R, you remember the apartment, the color of the mattress, but not me?!”
(It was getting monstrous in size. I had to reduce it to 10% its original size :-p. Guess I should delete it :-s)