CHAPTER 6: ILLUSIONS

With a heavy heart,I reached Mulund. When I reached there, all I could see amidst the crowd was the nostalgic memories running in front of me.

Things had changed so much.
The huge advertisement boards that adored the sideways of the stairs outside the station,were replaced with digital screens, playing out videos of their ads, hence earning huge bucks in return.
In the age of neck to neck competition, the importance of advertising has increased manifold. Some ads are quite interesting, whereas most of them are well, too much exaggerated.

Ads aside,I felt bad. I missed those days when I used to wave my hands and signal “Bye” to her and she used to do the same from the tiny space between the huge ad banners.
Saying “Bye” to the one whom you love hurts the most. I could remember each and every day and the pain associated with it when I had to bid her adieu, although for a day. It was something that I just couldn’t do. But I had to.
Two years passed so quick in those boring sky blue uniforms and carrying the heavy load of books,memories and untold words.

And now I stood there,at that same place,having no clue what to do next. That’s when Alpha and Beta came to my rescue. (Yeah,you read that right. Alpha and Beta.
They are those not-so-cool components of my mind who just love to analyse and debate over anything that they get,and in the end,make me more confused and unsettled. Well, Alpha was the optimistic of the two and I preferred his decisions always. But,slowly I came to understand that Beta was more practical, and taking his decisions would have proved more beneficial over time. But since I was not in a mood to leave my imaginary world,full of hope and optimism and was unsure of plunging to the practical world and coming to terms with the fact that I’m a dumb whore,made me biased towards Alpha and his decisions.

Should I head towards her home?

Alpha: Why not? You should definitely go. You rarely come here anyways. You will feel better!

Beta: No! Don’t go there please! That will only make things worse! You know what I mean. Understand!

Alpha: Nah! You’ll be happy. You will go there and relive those days..those days when you used to wait for her like a mad lover..those days when you put her first and then yourself. Those days when the only reason for being alive was her.

Alpha was trying his best to convince me,but to be true,he failed by a very big margin. He used the very points that I didn’t want him to use. That very points that bought back her memories. And the last words from Beta nailed the coffin on Alpha’s baseless arguments….which was once
considered very true and correct by me. But as we say..“Times change. People change.”

Beta: But there’s no point going there and wasting time on her memories. You will go mad over her again,which you can’t afford to do now. You had a special place for her in your heart. Fine. But did she even care for you and your efforts that you made to be constantly in touch with her? As Alpha said,you put her first. Always. Did she even try to do that? You thought about her and ONLY HER those days,instead of solving Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle numericals ,studying the not so interesting chemistry between Carbon-Carbon double bonds, going gaga over long phylum names from Bio and other important things that a twelfth grader should invest time in.
Did she do the same? No. And you didn’t even expected her to do it. Because you knew, that she didn’t love you. Yes. You knew that Sooraj. But you never heard me. You always kept hoping and hoping that one day she’ll reciprocate the same feelings for you as well. Unfortunately,you lived on a false hope for more than 1000 days. And finally, when you heard her answer and couldn’t hold on any longer, you heard to me and came to terms with reality. You realised that you were just going to a dead end. You felt better that you finally took the right step. Remember? And two years later, when she shifted to Delhi without even letting you know, you felt more retarded. You understood that you have no place in her pretty all set life.

That’s when you,my friend, understood that you have to live life on practical lines…that you should follow your heart, but take a moment to think before taking your decisions. Decisions that have a long lasting impact on your life.
And now, if you go towards her house,where you know no one lives,you’ll just prove yourself that you’re still retarded and dumb. That’s all I have to say your Honour.”

Alpha, as expected, had no reply to that one. I decided to give the McDonald’s near the railway station a try,after some.. 5 years! After all, Beta made me happy with his splendid answer! (Another excuse to eat out, to be frank.)

After ordering some random big name burgers and fries,I took one of the window facing seats. It was the first day of the year and the flat discounts and offers on some burgers should have roped in more public. But sadly, that wasn’t the case. The eatery was deserted and I was one among the few people who sat there,munching on those burgers,immersed in thoughts.

Useless thoughts.

I tried hard to change the flow of my thoughts to something else. At that point,even thinking about those shitty TV soaps would have made me happy. Unfortunately (and fortunately!), I hadn’t watched one.

I reminded myself that,I have to go and be prepared for tomorrow. My first day at office. The big day. Still, I decided to hang around a bit more. Nothing is better than free WiFi. But for the first time,I felt the other way round.

Weird.

Every time I visited Mulund with my friends, I would eke out any excuse and go around her home,smile at the good old days, hold a grudge against myself for falling for her
and then return back as if nothing happened. But this time,it was different.

I was sipping my coke that’s when my eyes fell on the ground. I mean..

How can this be possible!

At the counter, I spotted her!

Yes!

HER!

But she was with some guy! That enraged me. A part of me reminded me to be quiet and calm.

My heart started pounding the same way it used to before an important exam. Little beads of perspiration started forming on my head. I blamed the low quality air conditioning for that.

Where’s her cute spectacles?

May be she replaced those with eye lens.

She’s looking pretty in that black and gold salwar kameez.

And she seems to have put on weight..slightly.

Umm..should I go ahead and talk with her?

Just as the question arised,the two monsters were back in business.

Alpha: Why not man! Golden opportunity yaar! Your eyes are prying to see her! Don’t think,go ahead!

Beta: Umm…I think Alpha is correct..to an extent. I’m not sure. But you can go….I think you should. Ya..you should.

Alpha: That’s the spirit man!

The fact that Beta didn’t even argue against his nemesis amazed me.

Weird again.

Leaving the precious coke at the table,I walked towards her.
There she was, looking at the Menu behind the counter,confused what to order. Her “boyfriend” suggesting her to order something. She smiled,carefully adjusting her locks behind her ear.

I stopped in my tracks as they turned towards me. I looked straight at her.
My eyes popped out.

I rubbed my eyes only to see the same unknown girl again.

This can’t be!

The couple felt awkward at my actions. Obviously,they should.

“What happened? Can I help you?”,the guy came forward.

“Er..nah..it’s..it’s fine…something went in to my eye..all of a sudden..”,I acted well.

“Oh..ohk..”

“….”

“….”

“Now it’s fine.. ya..and yeah, sorry in case I disturbed you guys.”

“It’s fine. ”, she flashed her charming smile.

After bidding an awkward adieu,I left.

As I left McDonald’s, I heard someone calling out to me..

That peculiar voice….
No. I’m not going to be fooled again!

But that voice echoed again. Calling me.

I tried my level best not to look back.

The voice came closer..

I walked fast.

More close..

I increased my pace and boarded a random bus without even looking at the route no. I just wanted that voice to stop somehow. But it didn’t.

Illusions illusions everywhere..”

God,what’s happening to me?

The past memories that I had managed to bury were back to haunt me. I didn’t want to reopen that closed chapter of my life. This would be kept closed for some decades at least. The story that I’ll tell to my grandchildren shouldn’t have spoilers of course.

But destiny had some other plans.

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