“Do you see..! do you see.. how mad she was in love with me?” he exclaimed, with a face beaming bliss, showing me a paper with words scribbled, scattering all over it, in all possible direction, one over the other, many repeated and few crossed out; making no sense: I’m AWAKE, I love cholan A LOT, Cholan made me A WONDERFUL coffee, Cholan IS MY Lovely HUBBY. Gaps filled with smileys verbalizing: excitement, sadness, hugs and kisses.
“This doesn’t make any sense to me, Brigade!” I said.
Everything he told me afterthat made me realize that he was just a shadow of someone, till then to me, whom I had ever known.
Somewhere to turn; Someone to share, to listen, to pat and to love.. is all we need. Brigade Cholan is one of such very few for me. We argue and fight silly most of the time, laugh our lungs out, cheat in cards, poke fun at each other. Whatsoever we do, watch or read, we would start discussing about that like a damn good kids and end-up fighting very badly.
“You do not have a least idea on what should be celebrated and what should not be, you fathead!!” he would scream at me. And “You are the meanest critic I have ever seen!” I would yell at him back. When I get exhausted, “Ok now.. let you be the winner, go make coffee for me”, I give-up. I love his coffee!
But nothing of this sort happened that day. I was just abnormally quiet.
“What’s with you, my boy?” he inquired, looking deep into my eyes. I didn’t speak a word or rather I couldn’t speak a word. “uh?” he asked me again after a brief pause, jolting my shoulders. Failing badly in swallowing the tears, I just cried and cried, harder and harder, like I did on my firstday over this planet. He certainly knew that things happening around me weren’t going my way, not even the slightest. It was obtrusive: his face shrank in my hearts pain. And his arms like feathers pulled me close, making my frozen heart melt down in the warmth.
Like calmness after the storm, Beethoven’s moonlight playing through the speakers made itself noticeable. Music mixing with the calmness rather piercing through it – filled the air, creeping inside me soft, filling every germ, making all one hundred billion neurons in my brain sway; as if to counteract ever bunk hidden in me. Overwhelming!
“You know?”, he said unexpectedly, “Beethoven turned deaf at twenty six. Cruel, must be the right word to express something life has imposed on him. As he weaved baton facing his orchestra for one last time, he had to turn around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience, because he couldn’t hear them.”
“Stories like this scares a hell out of my life rather soothing me, Brigade!” I said.
He laughed out his usual exploding thunderous laugh.
Just being in Brigade’s home is enough.. to strengthen me, to calm myself down, to accept the reality. Home – filled more with Love and Art, Less with the Hate. Mr.Brigade – eldest of my best buddies, my guru, a retired army personnel. A celebrator of good art. Someone I admire.
“Thank you for the coffee,” I said, “delightful”. My smile reflected on his face.
“Thaarani’s coffee would be too good than mine. Unfortunately.. you haven’t had a chance to have it”, he added.
Resuming the posture of a recumbent statue in the rocking chair eventually, he said “Thaarani would always tell me, Remember… Things that aren’t pleasant not necessarily be bad for you; all is just for a season”, his face lit-up like sun. Thaarani – Brigade’s better half; whom I have never seen, expired long before time introduced me to brigade.
“She was my love, she was my everything. I loved her morethan I thought I could” he sighed.
Only Calmness mixed with the music filled the air for sometime. Sunlight finding its ways between the clouds entered the room through fanlight, painted all patters it can carve on our faces.
He continued, with no wait for my acknowledgment, as he does all the time he speaks of her.
“Yaadhuvan, who brought me up, always used to tell me.. my soul almost took-off from my body once, then it decided to turned down in doing so. Some doctor saved me. A long long time ago, when I was eighteen months old. I haven’t seen that guy, not even tried to. Some point in time I feel so grateful to him, I pray for him; Sometimes, I curse him for saving me” Brigade chuckled.
“That day when I first saw her in half-sari, my heart skipped a beat, my walk stumbled. Boy! She was so beautiful. Then I prayed to god for that doctor who saved my life, to live a very long happy life.. with his girl.” Bliss creeping from his lips, filled his face.
“I always wonder, why should life have been designed the way it is. Why shouldn’t life have been designed as to just be born, live, love and die; why should we be treated as we are in it?” he questioned.
“Perhaps because, world would be a much worse place if it is not so” brigade answered himself.
As sunlight through the window decorated the wrinkled face for its part, over and above the grace in it, his face showed up the beauty behind the petals, eventually.
“Do you wanna see how mad she was in love with me?” he questioned. It was just a question for formality. He didn’t wait for me to complete nodding my head. Brigade rushed to his bookshelf. Finally finding something he was searching for, Brigade came running to me with a speed that didn’t suit his age.
“Do you see..! do you see! how mad she was in love with me?” he exclaimed, with a face beaming bliss.
I didn’t see the love she had on him but just a paper scribbled all over it.
“This don’t make any sense to be brigade!” I said.
Resuming his posture in the rocking chair, he remained calm for minutes as if to fetch something that were at the very depth of his heart.
After a bigger out breath, “That day, when ambulance rushed home, it was not impossible for me to realize that the angel of misfortune has started hovering all around us. It wasn’t a usual morning. Her body as chill as corpse, motionless, with just breath and beats between her ribs. Viral infection in her central nervous system, left her with Amnesia. Her brain lost control of its memory, losing the ability to cement-down things it senses into long-term memory. She can’t remember anything morethan few minutes. She was dragged to a situation where she had to write down everything, including her mood, including the fact that she loved me.” I have never seen him shed tears, Never! But he did then.
With a smile coated with wiped out tears, “But… But… You know! Noting made her happy as much as just my presence around her would. Everytime she had to be away from me, even for an hour, would sound to her as if we were out of each-others sight for years. She would jump like a kid and grab me tight with a most loveable hug her body can express. I don’t know why, but I loved here more at the times when I had to take more care of, than when things were in her control. Perhaps, its was the effect of the intoxication love leaves us with.” he said.
“May be that is why people say love is blind” I intervened.
“Love isn’t blind at all my boy, it is aware of everything, it just don’t care. Thaarani once told me: Maybe there is something called God is real, and he knew exactly what she was going through was gonna happen and that was why god has chosen me for her. And as she was nearing the last breath she told me that: God have had a bigger plan for her than she had for herself, no one else would have loved her in this planet as she was, than me..” he said,”how awesome is that!!”, with an expression uniquely belonging to someone bearing requited love.
It felt as though every atom in air filled the room was obliged to maintain the serenity that wrapped us.
Being known him for almost a decade, little I knew, Brigade is also a man who has half passed his life filled just with so much love from his beloved.
Before I could take it, Brigade snatched my mobile near him beeping on the table for the message it has got, flashing the name – that brigade wasn’t familiar with, over its face. He looked at me, then at the phone to read the message and looked back at me again, startled. Message was from my girl. I doubled up in embarrassment.
“You phoney coward!” he yelled,”you never told me you have a girl friend!!”
Brigade was back to normal. He is worse than kids at times. I begged his pardon. Told all lie to pacify him.
“How long this has been on?” he finally spoke.
“Two months” I lied. Its been six months since she accepted my proposal.
Everyday I would wake-up with the first thought to say about my love to brigade and everyday would endup not telling him for some reason nobody knew. The day all this happened, I was almost there to tell him, something unpleasant happened before I was there, spoiled everything again. And this isn’t a lie.
“Go now to the park, she might be waiting there…” he said, with a plausible anger.
“Ok… wait.. how You get to know that??”
“That was the message, Idiot!”, he yelled again, this time with a grin.
All energy and emotion the day unleashed upon me fuelled my bike to fly on road, to meet my darling!