A sultry june afternoon, the summer sun was lambasting hot balls of meteorites.
Alok felt tired and disgruntled with life, much like other earthlings. He decided to take a break from his boring corporate life and took a half-day leave.
As he retreated towards home, a roadside book café caught his eye. It has just sprung up in an alley beside his office. A black sign board lured him in.
“Easy to love, hard to break and impossible to forget”, read the sign board.
A pleasant looking café with an interesting view. Alok decided to dine there. He was pleasantly surprised to find their payment options. A book in exchange of another was the price for eating in there. He exchanged the self-help book he was reading with that of an old rugged booked, that caught his eye.
Days passed on and he forgot about the book lying aimlessly in his office bag. One fine morning, he got a glance of it while emptying his bag. A book of 100 unconventional poems. He thought of reading a poem every day. Thus, started his love affair – on the way to commute and while on the bed.
On day 2, a familiar voice beckoned him on the bus.
“Hi, Are you Alok from St. Joseph’s school batch 1990?” enquired a young lady.
“Yes”, he replied reluctantly.
“I am, Maya from 2nd standard remember?”- the lady answered hurriedly and got down from the bus.
That night he remembered Maya, the weird bookworm kid they teased in elementary school. He kept on reading the book of poems. Relating and recollecting it with persons from his life. Each poem reminded of humans and their relationships. A couple of days later, he read a heart-wrenching poem on unforged friendship. This time he thought of looking for Maya. He kept searching him on his way to commute.
3 days later, they met again on the bus. This time, the conversation flowed smoothly and went beyond the regular exchange of pleasantries. They decided to meet often.
The following night, he read the 35th poem – a love poem on the loss and banality of life. As run his fingers through the words and read the 35th day, Alok remembered Maya and her chaffed olive skin. That night, Alok dreamt of Maya – dreamt of loving her and making love to her.
A few days later, Alok and Maya were growing strong with their companionship. After the lunch at the coffee shop, Alok took her to his apartment. One thing led to other and they started living their story. That day he made love to her.
He glanced at her pages – touching her, smelling her, breathing her, unclothing her and knowing her vulnerabilities. He read her thoroughly, immensely.
It was as if he was reading the book of 100 poems – unclothing and discovering her page by page, word by word, letter by letter. Touching the letters, breathing the words and finally kissing her as he uttered it. Just like the Book, Just like Maya. Open yet closed. Vulnerable yet strong.
Lying on his naked body, baring her all – skin to skin, heart to heart, mind to mind and soul to soul. They made love.
Many a relationship came into his life but none felt like Maya. She was real. She was the book of poems to his poetry. He realized the importance of her through the book.
Day 100, today is the day for the last leaf – the last poem. Incidentally, this was Alok’s last day in town. His last meeting with Maya before he moved to another city. The last poem was on death. It reminded him of life and the moving time.
That night Alok finished reading the book but not the girl. Maya stayed with him.
Whereas, I, “The Book of 100 Poems”, found my place on a dingy bookshelf.
Waiting for my love story to end – the beginning of a beautiful ending.
“When memories fade
And defiant hands try to escape –
When you long for a friend
In trying times that donot end.
We will meet again.
In the land of forget –me-nots
Where memory plays its have-nots –
In between the space
Where time slows down its pace,
We will meet again.
At the junction of wordplay
Where conjunctions and adjectives forfeit their play.
We will meet again.
We will meet again.”