They loved. They lost. They got married but not with each other. They spent 35 years of their family life with content. They were now back being alone. He sat on a bench facing the lake and stared at the moon which seemed like a quick stroke of light. It reminded him of his remaining life. At least the moon will re-gain its glory as the time passes. But he had lost his glorious days and now was alone. She stood thousands of kilometers away staring at the same moon. She knew she had achieved enough by making everyone around her comfortable to lead their own lives. It was now her life; and only her life. There was no one left for her to take care. She could finally have her own life now. The same moon reminded him of his remaining pitiful few days while she felt an uplifting spirit to lead a life of her own.
They had never stopped loving each other. They had somehow just forgotten about their love as their responsibilities had overshadowed that tiny flame in their hearts. But now, that spark was in the verge of setting those responsibilities on fire. They both longed for love at the end of their days.
“Are you kidding me?” she blurted out.
“No, I am serious. No one would care. It’s a market. They’re all busy bargaining. Just give me a quick peck; at least on my cheek. Come on. It’ll be so exciting” he pleaded with a wicked smile.
“I know it’ll get you excited. That’s what is worrying me, you idiot”
“Ok. Let me do it at least”
“Grab these bags and let’s leave. Aren’t you ashamed of making your girlfriend carry so much of baggage”
“Nah… I am trying to carry your stupid ego! It’s heavier”
“You’re already tired of my ego? You have to carry it for the rest of your life! Beware!!!” she teased.
“Are you expecting us to get married? Nah… I am not as stupid as you” he shot back with the same wicked smile.
“Who spoke of marriage? I am just telling you will have to carry my ego for the rest of your life. If we get married you’ll repent forever. If you don’t you might repent not just excruciatingly more but also carry the guilt of giving up on me! Now shut up and carry these bags. My hands might fall off”
Although 35 years had passed ever since, both of them remembered every bit of that conversation. It played like a nostalgic movie in black and white in their mind as both of them stared at the same moon on the same night.
She wondered if she can call up some old contacts and try to reach him. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to find about someone like him. She had voluntarily severed all sort of social ties of their lives. She loved him too much to manage to let him walk away again.
At this side of the moon, he was wondering how it would have felt to have her right beside him at this very moment. His senses still lingered every bit of her. He remembered how she smelt. He could remember how her touch felt. The way she breathed. He remembered the way her hair romanced her eyes, and sometimes his eyes. He remembered her favorite dress. He knew she wouldn’t have changed. He knew that no amount of wrinkles can hide those sparkling eyes. He knew the color of the hair wouldn’t weaken their urge to romance those eyes. He knew her age wouldn’t have managed to take away her natural aroma. He knew she might not fit into her old favorite dress anymore but she would have a new favorite dress.
“You’ve gone fat. Stop eating” he teased her as she took an insanely huge bite of a burger.
“Do you hear yourself and can you at least see yourself?” she said casually without taking her eyes off the burger.
“I have always been this way, although I keep fluctuating. But look at your flab. Don’t ask me to buy you new cloths” he quipped.
“Yeah right!!! As if you have bought me any. I am just trying to match your size. What if guys start flirting and I get tempted? I might as well put on more weight to ward off those horny eyes!!!” she mumbled as she munched the French fries.
“Ha haa… You’re so funny. I will dump you when you get fat!” he said sarcastically.
“Great!!! I have had enough of you in these 6 years. Now I am surely going to order more of these burgers with extra cheese!!!” she said with subtle laughter.
Clouds gathered around the moon and it was now hardly visible. She just stood there sipping on a cup of coffee. He had always made fun of her habit of drinking coffee before going to bed. He never missed a chance to tease her to ask if that cup of coffee was to energize her in the bed. With a grin she went inside and shut the drapes. She dimmed the lights and wondered what she could possibly do to lead a life she always wished for. Either she had forgotten that she was nearing 60 or she didn’t really give a damn. Her cell phone started vibrating. It was an unknown number. She wanted it to be him but for a quick moment which felt like hours, she thought what she could possibly speak to him after so many years!
“Hello..?” she said curiously.
After an elaborate pause came a voice “Hi… Hey… This is…”
“I was just thinking about you”
“Oh is it? How come? How did you know I would call?” he asked with a little sarcasm and mostly surprised.
“No I didn’t expect your call. I was just thinking about you. I just finished my coffee and was on my way to crawl into my bed” she said bluntly expecting him to make that coffee joke!
“Oh your husband needs your energized version is it?”
“Aren’t you too old to make a stupid joke like that?”
“Aren’t we both too old to repeat this conversation for a millionth time?”
“It’s been more than 35 years. Why did you call now?” she choked as her voice came out.
“At least I cared to call”
“Of course you would care. After all, caring for someone else actually starts at around the age of 60 for men!” she shot back.
“That’s all they’ll be left with to do. Nothing else would be as firm as caring”
“Stop being vulgar with a lady at this odd hour”
“You’re a lady now?”
“I was always one”
“Ladies don’t kiss guys in a market in front of hundreds of people” he said with a wicked tone to tease her.
“I didn’t kiss ‘any’ guys. I kissed you”
“Of course you would. I was quite hot then..!”
“I know you were. Your stink wasn’t really hiding your heat”
“Oh you’re still a pig”
“Aren’t we both?”
“You didn’t answer me when I asked if your husband needs your energized version. Hope I am not draining out your energy”
“I can make another cup of coffee for myself” she said with a sharp voice.
“You didn’t answer me”
“You are trying to hit on me?”
“Nah, I am just trying to hit you” he giggled.
“It’s too late for this you know”
“Oh, you are sleepy?”
“I am not. But you slept for 35 years.”
“It was a mutual decision. Wasn’t it?”
“Was it? For me it was more like one’s decision and another’s agreement to that decision”
“We have matured way too much to argue on that now” he shrugged.
“We are speaking like the same couple who fought as to who would carry the baggage in the market. It doesn’t feel like we haven’t spoken for decades.”
“Haha… I know” he giggled but she quickly added in a serious tone.
“We would have been great if we had spent our lives together. Instead we just spent it”
“That’s why I called. I had tracked you down months ago. It took me all this while to gather myself to call you”
“That’s probably because it’s your birthday today and you’re too drunk”
“In my medical condition, even spelling a-l-c-o-h-o-l is deadly”
“So you called to say sorry?” she groaned as her pitch peaked to its highest but settled down in an instant.
“Why should I say sorry? If anyone needs to be sorry then it’s got to be both of us or none” he shot back with his most serious tone.
“I was sorry back then itself. I was waiting for you to be sorry but as it turns out, it’s my turn again. Sorry but I have to get back to bed. I have a flight early tomorrow”
“I am sorry.”
“I wasn’t lying about the flight. I really have one”
“… and I wasn’t lying when I said I am sorry” he swallowed a nervous gulp to ease his choked throat.
“I might not be able to call you again. It took me a lot of courage to do this now. I will probably succumb to the nervousness next time” he confessed.
“Stop doing that. You’re just as annoying as before”
“And you’re just as late as before”
“Am I really that late?” he asked with the last hope.
“Probably not, but I have responsibilities now. My grand kids need me. It’s their first day at school tomorrow and I need to be there”
“Do you ‘want’ to be there or you just ‘need’ to be there?”
“Did you want to keep up your responsibilities back then or did you just NEED to keep up those?”
“Don’t be rude”
“Wound is fresh you know”
“We both needed it back then”
“But I changed my decision immediately after that, you were stubborn. You didn’t even try”
“We tried for two years. It was too late to change our decisions”
“Its 35 years more now… what makes you think it’s not late now?”
“Probably because it’s way too late for the time to matter”
“Your theories still doesn’t make any sense”
“Can we at least meet?”
“What do you mean ‘at least’? You haven’t yet asked for anything more. Why did you say ‘at least’?”
“Do I have to ask?”
“Yes. I have forgotten to read your mind with years. I can hardly read. Reading minds is out of question” she said, again with blunt sarcasm.
“Can I hope for this conversation to go anywhere?”
“Why do you leave everything to hope?”
“My god. You know how to hurt don’t you?”
“I haven’t loved anyone enough in a while to hurt this much. Probably this is more like a volcanic eruption”
“You haven’t..?” he asked with a tiny ray of hope again.
“No. I was drained even before I was required to Love after marriage. Sometimes responsibilities and honor can replace Love. Arguably even more effectively”
“What about now?”
“Age for my ‘wants’ have long gone. I am here for my grand kids now” she said. While she spoke those words she burst out with tears for being dishonest to herself. It was one of those rare moments when it was all about her but she just tried and pushed it away as someone else’s. In that dark room, her tears somehow managed to gloom. Her hands trembled as she wanted to ask him to come and meet her right this moment. She just wanted him, just him and an embrace she longed for years now. A hug would have compensated for 35 years of life spent for the sake of responsibilities but not love.
“But we have finally crossed that age when we are needed by someone else. Your grand kids have their parents. Don’t they? We have just each other. Let’s elope”
“And go where? To an old-age home?”
“I am rich! That’s all I am!!!”
“Of course you are!” she said with a tired expression.
“Brushing off your sarcasm again, we can have the life we dreamed of. Can’t you at least think about it for a while? You can have my number. Call me whenever you feel it’s the right time. All I am left with to do is wait” he said. He decided it would be his last try and gave his number. He didn’t check if she was noting down his number, but he didn’t try too hard. He understood what she meant when she said it was too late. But he had to try. Thirty-five years ago when they decided to break-up, the conversation ended with a sad smile. This last try was to keep up his last promise. He still remembered that last conversation.
“So we are now not going to meet ever again is it?” she asked as she grabbed that last tissue on the table.
“Let’s make a pact. When I am 60, I will contact you. We can just elope then and have a life somewhere in the world away from everyone we know.”
“Good way of telling that you give a damn what happens to me for the next 35 years”
“Don’t make this more difficult”
“I will” she said as she pulled out her hand from his.
“Expect a call on my 60th birthday”
“I hope you die before that” she was back to her brutal sarcasm.
“… and I hope your family would have succumbed to your brutality before my 60th birthday so that you can elope with me without any hurdles” he added with a quick smile which obviously looked like a failed attempt to make her smile.
Her heavy breathing brought him back to the present moment. There he was, keeping up his silly promise to try for one last time on his 60th birthday. She didn’t answer. After a pause that probably felt longer than those 35 years, she gathered herself and spoke.
“I really need to get my cup of coffee now. Good night”