I met her almost after like a year since college. Could not say that she had changed a lot. I met her in the Metro train. Ultra-glam, branded tee, form-fitting trousers, her long hair always kept loose and flowing and in a tangled mess with just the right amount of lip gloss. She was definitely good-looking, a topper in her college, smartly and sharply dressed with a calm demeanor. Leaning into her, it was not the nostalgia tinged days of college fun and friends which I remembered; instead it was the faint nicotine scent which I smelled- an aura lingering around her.

Flashback…

Flashbacks never seem to happen in the way you want them to.
My flashbacks were always dominated by a yellowish hue-probably because of the horrible heat of the summer. Always sepia-toned flashbacks. They never worked in a correct order, always splashed across the silly blank white sheet of my mind in a haphazard manner.
I thought that I had buried her memories somewhere. They were dead. Long ago, they had died. Still…something stirred, deep inside me.
It was not an entire tale that we shared between us, not a web of memories. It was just a moment, a single moment. A stolen moment at that. A stolen moment wrapped in drowsiness and laziness of violet shadows and glinting light.
There was a corner tucked behind shady trees, a bit far from the parking lot and further away than that Chinese food serving van.
Even though many knew of its existence, it was never all that frequented. There was respite from the heat, shade and cool air which blew. You could go and study there. This was the last time I was taking my books over there -an excluded spot away from the glare of stuffy heat. I carried my books and then propped myself on the grassy green.

She came in; I was not expecting her, in fact, I was expecting no one to come. Brown sunglasses, the same pink lip gloss and an orange canvas bag swinging on her arm, she was dressed in an oversized snoopy tee and ripped jeans. She came and sat next to me. It is all so vivid and still so dominated by a sepia hue. She extracted a cigarette from her bag and put it to her lips. A cherry red lighter came next, a fiery saffron-vermilion flame and then grey-black clouds. Grey-black clouds which were threatening to engulf. She leaned her head on my shoulder and I became a part of those clouds.
The acrid smell of nicotine was exhilarating to her. Her long black hair spread across my shoulder had acquired a rich brown beauty- like a ribbon of light which weaved itself through her hair in a serpentine pattern. She offered that cigarette to me. The cigarette that had grazed her lips. The pink hue was transferred to the smoking end of the cigarette. I kept it between my teeth and took two drags and passed it back to her. Back and forth, it was passed until the last drag was over.
It was a moment of silent companionship. The cigarette was what cemented the bond of intimacy between us. It was a small moment. A moment of my life filled with happiness and ecstasy, beautiful in its stolen nature, lingering in its stealth, glowering in that day, becoming a part of that day and never a part of that day either. The alarm on her mobile beeped and she rushed to attend her last class. A wave of her pale and white palm and she disappeared, leaving the clouds behind. The ghost of her presence still surrounded me….

The last moment we were ever together… That day was a week before our last exams of the final year. We were never that much in contact that I could accord to it the respectable status of it getting lost…
A year later I saw her at the Metro station, a hurried kiss on the cheek, an exchange of mobile numbers and a wave of her pale and white palm and she disappeared, leaving the clouds behind.
I’ll always hang onto that acrid smell, that sepia-toned shred of my memory. I’ll always remember that cigarette which we shared.

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