Some stories are difficult to write. They sit in the darkest corners of our hearts, gathering dust and making their existence known only when our entire hearts get shaken up by some external events. We let them sit there thinking that somehow these stories have lost their grip on us. Nothing can be so wrong. They come alive at unexpected moments and we realize, rather regretfully, that we are lifelong prisoners to such stories.
There isn't much to write about a story that became part of my life more than eight years ago. But I went to the same place two years ago looking for the remaining pieces of that story. I thought maybe that will help me to let it go finally. I walked in front of that cafe many times before gathering the courage to claim a table for a single person. Before that, I had overstuffed myself with a Persian Biriyani that I didn't have the stomach for. It remained undigested like my infatuation with a new guy I was talking to. But sitting in an overcrowded cafe without ordering anything is never an option. I ordered some least expensive items from the menu and started scanning the place for the remnants of my story.
I remembered the table where we sat eight years ago. Some things never change, like a corner table for two persons in an overcrowded cafe. Two foreign guys were sipping Heineken and were talking loudly at that table. It was still afternoon and the music was not loud enough as per the normal standards. Unlike many other times, I didn't strain my ears to overhear the conversations at adjacent tables. I was lost in my head. I was visiting that place after six years and that too alone. The person I have been with, on that trip is no longer with me. It was easier to believe that life has not moved on for me. But the pragmatist in me knows that it is not true. I have travelled near and far, was lost, found myself even though the soul bore no resemblance to the old one.
I sipped the tea and tried to eat whatever I ordered. I was planning to sit there for some time. But my loneliness was amplified in that crowd and I started feeling uncomfortable. There was nowhere else to go and then one more place came into my mind. It was a bookshop and it would be the right place to spend a lazy afternoon. I followed google maps and like any other person whose direction sense is compromised, I seemed to run in circles. It took me quite a lot of time to find the place and it was only to learn that the bookstore had been closed sometime back. I was disappointed. But this was not the first time. Most of the things that we visited eight years ago are no longer part of that city's landscape. It was the last nail in the coffin carrying those memories. Maybe the universe knew that it was essential for my peace of mind.
I was unsteady for some time after hearing about the bookshop. I cannot remember how I managed to get back to the railway station from that point. The next thing I remember is the illuminated view of the gorgeous railway station. It was a view that was not tainted by any past life memories, something that I can cherish despite the disappointments of the day.
The day ended in a typical Mumbai local train. With people fighting for an inch of space, survival became the only thing that I was concerned with. Life throws existential struggles when we feel so self-important, then the real struggle arrives and we wonder what were we worried about.