May 12, 2005
“You hold it like this, supported by the middle finger, between the thumb and the index finger,” he said.
I copied the curl of his fingers around the flat, circular, smooth stone, trapping it in my grip.
“Now, spin the stone while releasing it, like this,” he said, and released the stone.
His stone went click, click, click, jumping on the water. It skipped seven times before drowning finally.
But when I released my stone, spinning it as much as I could, it went WHOOSH into the water. Dead.
“Now that’s called a submarine,” he said. “You don’t throw it like that. You ought to keep it low, like this,” he said, and threw another one. Six skips.
I tried again. Two skips.
“Well, it should make an angle of about twenty degrees when it hits the water,” he said, and let out a breath.
Now that was some sensible way of teaching. My stone skipped five times.
“You scientific brain, you need to breed some intuition, some way of relating to things and actions based on how you feel you should relate to them, without setting down the rules and laws of the interaction beforehand. You’ll realize how much more you would learn,” he said.
Sometimes, I see your smile on strange faces. I recognize the way the lips, full and able, reach out to the cheeks, and stay there for a second, in a deep, knowing bond. I get so caught up in the smile that I register the face only a little later and by that time, whoever’s face it is, stops smiling and starts looking at me with a mixture of confusion and concern. The confusion needs no explanation. The concern probably springs out of how I look when I register the face.
Then I try to smile apologetically, as a person who mistakes somebody for somebody else would, but I realize that the concern on the stranger’s face just grows larger, probably because my face doesn’t do a good job of putting up a show. I feel my neck getting warm and the lump rising in my throat. I turn around and rush away.
You don’t know this, of course, but I was around when they declared you dead.
You’d never let me near you in any of the ITP spells. So when your parents came out to make arrangements, and I entered the room, I didn’t know what to expect.
Slowly, I lifted my hand to remove the cloth from your face, fearing that there would be red spots all over you, spots that you’d never let me see in the three years we’d known each other.
I shut my eyes, removed the cloth in one stroke, and opened them back again. And honey, there wasn’t a spec on your face. It’s so indescribably strange, but the fact that I didn’t have to see you like you’d never wanted to be seen, came like a sharp streak of light in the dark realm of my pain. I remember the relief at seeing how good you looked, and the uncontrollable sobs that followed, when I realized that it seemed as if you’d shaved just the previous evening.
I bent down and kissed you, and felt your lips one last time. The next I remember thinking anything was when I heard footsteps approaching. That was when I wiped my warm tears from your cold face.
Sometimes I think that my life would have been so much easier with you around. Now I have to figure everything out for myself. But you know, I’ve not been a submarine. Had you been here, you would have taken some pride in that.
I think, the day you died and I came to your room, I established a resigned understanding with death. Since then, while I know that the faceoff waits somewhere out there, I skip as a stone in an ocean, and defy the laws in that the successive skips aren’t smaller. Here’s to you, and to all the time we spent together.
©Rasagya Kabra, December 24, 2011