It was a lonely gathering of 500 people. No one was with anyone yet everyone was talking to anyone, everyone.
I felt stifled but then I had never liked such social parties. I scanned the sea of faces but none stood out. Even the ones I knew had blended in one another. I looked again, not really sure what I was searching for. It was a ritual I indulged in every time I could not get out of attending an event like this one.
I sighed and gave up.
“Excuse me. Are you waiting for someone?”
The soft velvety, cultured voice flowed through me. I turned around and saw him.
My first thought was, I know him.
I felt a strange mix of deep calm and contentment yet an exhiliration at seeing him. It felt as if he was the one I had been searching for all along and now finally I could relax that I has found him.
Unable to place if I indeed knew him, I asked, “Excuse me, do I know you? You look a bit familar”
A multitude of expressions crossed his face. There was fear, pain, sadness and hope?
“Do you?” he enquired in that same velvety soothing voice. It felt as if he was waiting with baited breath for my answer.
But when my confused look continued, he smiled and said, “Maybe I just have a common face. You know how it happens. Lot of people look like someone else you know.”
Impossible. I thought. He didn’t look like anyone else and I doubted i would have forgotten him of I had known him beforehand. Ofcourse I did not say all this to him.
“So can I get you a drink if you don’t mind.”
I nodded while the logical part of my brain was sending me alarm signals that I do not actually know him. Somehow it felt right.
He came back with a glass of fresh OJ.
While his thoughfulness surprised me, a small doubt nagged me that he hadn’t asked me what I wanted to drink. Yet he got me OJ- not a very popular choice of drink in a weekend party but exactly what I wanted!
We talked about things and I time flew. It was easier to talk to him about small things as well big ones. He easily understood everything I said and many I didn’t say.
At times I would catch him looking at me with a weird look in his eyes. If I didn’t know better, I would say he looked pained.
Ofcourse during that entire time when he talked, I had this contant feeling of déjà vu that I just couldn’t shake away.
Like when he would tell me about his work as a pilot and the demanding and erratic work schedules, about his hiking trips up in hills and the quiet and calmness he feels there. All this while I would feel that I really know what he is saying even though I don’t remember ever going to mountains. I could visualise easily him sitting outside a campfire looking at fireflies dancing in the air. As if Im right next to him!
I told him that.
He looked at me as if he kinda expected it but still regretted it.
“And is it a bad feeling or a good feeling?” he inquired in a tone that sounded uninterested and casual.
Before I could say anything more, my party came to get me and we left. Half way through the hall, I realized we never exchanged names! Somehow it didn’t seem important. I turned around and saw his gaze on me. I think it remained there till the time I moved out of the hall.
I smiled. It was an interesting yet confusing encounter. The feeling of déjà vu persisted.
He kept staring at her till he could see her. It was impossible to take his eyes off even if he tried. He sighed. Today he had come too close, way too close. He could have blewed it.
A hand came on her shoulder and he turned around to see the doctor.
“You are a very brave man, my son. And you really love her a lot.”
“I almost blew it today. IT was too close. What if it has a bad effect on her?”
“Don’t think bad. Infact, this just might ruffle and deep settled memory and shake it a bit. You never know she might actually remember you tomorrow morning! Have faith.”
“Faith. That is all I am living on now doctor. Ever since that unfortunate accident that took her memory away. Its a pain to meet her every evening in this sham party, hoping to see some recognition for me in her eyes.” his voice cracked in anguish.
Doctor could not say anything. He could see the man in front of him torn by his love and his patience wearing thin. He sighed and prayed for patience for the man and for himself.