I will try to write about these five things, one each day.

LOVE, LUST, LONELINESS, LONGING AND LIBERATION. I will write them to my capacity and understanding. I am in no way an expert on these. Well hardly anyone is because there is no set formula to these. And that makes us humans eager to understand and decipher.

LONGING

A short story

They agreed to go their separate ways but only after dragging it for almost a year. They both knew they were good for each other and all others knew it too. They have been together and inseparable for a good five years. They had sort of become each other’s identities. Whenever only either Samar or Molly was seen at a friends gathering people would ask about the other. But they knew they couldn’t have a future together. Castes, families, society. They have been over such topics a zillion times in every way possible. They knew that their fight for togetherness will only make matters worse and it will drain their energies at a time when both of them should be focusing on their careers. Samar always used to say, pyaar se pait nahi bharta (Love doesn’t feed the stomach).

Final goodbyes are never easy. Emotions would gush out like a fountain or erupt like a volcano and so much unsaid would pour out. There was a lot of back and forth. Lot of forgiveness and acceptance. Living everyday felt like climbing a mountain in cold with heavy baggage. Finally it was Molly who chose to cut the rope on which Samar was hanging. A complete disconnect. Lights out. Over.

FOUR MONTHS LATER

Samar saw her and walked towards her casually but also showing surprise. She was looking in his direction but not at him. She was standing there alone in a quiet corner in that crowded place, thoughtful, smoking a cigarette. It was late evening, all the people heading back from their offices and some stopping by for tea, samosa and cigarettes discussing their office or colleagues or bosses.

Approaching her Samar had to call out her name waving his hand. She came out of her thoughts. It took her a moment to gather her expressions.

I wish I could decipher the mix of emotions on her face, thought Samar. Molly managed to bring a faint smile. After the pleasantries, how are you and good-good what about you Samar gave her the chance to settle her emotions and his own pacing heart.

Ill just get a cigarette, he said and walked few steps through the people to the small kiosk selling cigarettes, hot fried samosa and cardamom ginger tea. He bought two cigarettes and tea in a paper cup.

Are you smoking these days ? Asked Molly slightly surprised but hiding any shock or command.

Sometimes. Lied Samar. He had been smoking regularly.

And how’s work? Asked Samar a bit formally. It felt awkward to both of them using a language they both had forgotten when talking to each other.

Two stranger who knew each other too well.

Work’s good, replied molly way too quickly without giving any thought. Oh yes, I have resigned by the way. I am serving my notice period. Molly suddenly transformed into her old self. Its difficult to lament properly in a formal language with a friend.

Why what happened now? Samar showed genuine concern and interest.

Last two to three months have been hell. Molly started and couldn’t stop while cursing someone here and someone there in the office. She had been brimming with malice and anger towards one and all. Samar heard her out showing proper reactions where needed, shock here surprise there and smile or laugh at the curse words for her colleagues. Molly dropped the cigarette butt and crushed it. It added a good end to it.

I can meet you here just to listen from time to time. Said Samar. They both laughed.

No its only half a month more. I am taking a good long break then. Last few months have been hell. leaving office way too late, sometime around midnight.

Zahir could only bring out a plain “Oh ok” as if he was able to conclude something. 

Molly just kept nodding looking at him.

They both had so many questions for each other. But it was neither the time nor the place. They both stood quiet for a while.

Throwing the paper cup with cigarette butt in it Samar asked Molly if she wanted to share the second cigarette.

No no, said molly shaking her head and smiling. I have to go now. Sharing a cigarette can be a bad idea she thought in her head. You take your time.

Yes yes sure. Awkward language again. Nice shoes by the way he commented as she gathered herself to move. He noticed those when she was crushing the cigarette but didn’t want to cut her office lament. A habit they cultivated to listen to each other out without cutting.

Aren’t they? Thank you. And lets meet sometime. I really have to go and finish some work she said making a sad and pitiful face.                   

Yes definitely, pyaar se pait nahi bharta ( love doesn’t feed the stomach )

She smiled a hearty smile. He smiled back, longingly.

As she left he lit the second cigarette and smoked it standing in that quiet corner, the way he was doing on a regular basis from last three months. Always waiting and anticipating to spot her and make it look like a surprise and coincidence. A long wait. Finally over.

It was their quiet corner. Come to the tea shop, she would say and he knew he would find her in that corner smoking a cigarette or sipping a tea.

He stood there reminiscing. Both relaxed and slightly anxious like a student after the last exam is over, but the result yet to come.

*****

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Sartaj Saifi

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