This would be my 50th post! Thank you for making LIGHTER SIDE possible! I wrote this story on 7/3/2008, to be precise. Yet, I wanted this story to be a special one, for it is my most favorite post after RAJANIGANDHA. Though the story didn't win me any prize for the creative writing contest for which it was actually written, I don't know why- this story remained to be my favorite!
Saket. A dream, a hope- a friend. He was life. I met him on the first day of our college. I was new and friendless- a castaway. He was then, a hand over my shoulder. A cigarette that we shared then, had bonded us for life.
A life lived, shown itself on those lines across face. A face that had once been handsome- charming. Spread on the couch- in an easy, lazy way, with one leg on the couch and other hanging outside it- his shoulders looked as though they could bear not, any more weight.
Saket knew a person by their eyes. He knew almost everything about everyone. May be that was why people adored him, for he never said anything to anyone what they did not want to hear. Everyone needed him and he was there for everyone.
“Can you get some water for me, Shabd”? It was weak- not the one that I was used to- his voice. It was tired.. No, not tired. It sounded fresh. As though it had not come out for years- not that it wanted to, either.
The cafeteria could never be complete without Saket inside. He always had his place reserved or rather the place had itself reserved for him. He would either be treating or be a part of it, himself. Some other time, when crowd is less, you can even find him with some girl or two. Now, he wouldn’t like me to tell you that!
He always drank his water, chilled. But today, he poured some on his face, his body- his mind! And when he let go of the bottle, he looked as though he had never relaxed that way- not for many, many years.
He hardly attended any of his classes. So it wasn’t a surprise when he didn’t attend any of his classes that day. But then, it was odd. He never attended his classes thereafter. We tried contacting him- that day, the next and the next. We tried calling his home. But it was as though his life had had a wash out- a trail on sand, washed away by water!
Saket opened his eyes. Eyes that could once make anyone yearn to see them all their lives- it had lost its soul. Lifeless, he looked at me and smiled. It was a smile that had been locked away in a cocoon, yet bursting to get out after a long exile. And I smiled back; a smile, too true to be expressed in words. How I had longed to see him do it, and it had been worth it!
“Can you light up a cigarette for me”? I did as he asked me to do. He smoked. Saket was born again from its ashes. He passed it to me. And when the other end of the cigarette touched my lips, I knew- Saket would never leave, again. For he, was alive- again!