Kashif absorbed the mesmerizing spectacle of the bejewelled indigo expanse, trying to fit it into his sparse collection of memorable moments.
The balcony of the hotel room had a breath-taking view of the majestic Himalayas, during the day. But the night sky, in her sparkling attire, always seduced the unrelenting white peaks into giving up their reign as she enchanted all with her magic. She also had a silent admirer in Kashif who would be engrossed in her antics till the wee hours, calming his befuddled mind.
“Hello!” A voice interrupted his clandestine affair.
Kashif glanced towards the balcony next to his.
“Vacation, huh?” nudged the stranger.
“Myself Bharadwaj. It’s my silver wedding anniversary today. We came here for our honeymoon twenty- five years back, so I thought..”
“Congratulations!! Hope you both are having a lovely holiday!” said Kashif, turning to go indoors, not in a mood for small talk.
“I am enjoying the memories we built together. My wife passed away early this year.” sighed Mr Bharadwaj. “Unprecedented turn of events!”
“Oh, sorry!” Kashif froze.
“Don’t be. I am reliving the unforgettable moments spent with her; they are countless like the stars adorning this December sky.” Reassured Mr Bharadwaj. “From the steaming cups of coffee that we relished, sitting together in the winter sun, to the time I spiked her mocktail and she wouldn’t stop singing; the jasmine flowers that I used to pick up for her on my way back home to my favourite jalebis that she arranged whenever she sensed something worrying me; the endless tiffs over the right shade of colour on the kitchen walls and the unexpected bonhomie while laughing at our own idiosyncracies; her valiant smile during labour pains or the quiet tears we shed keeping a brave demeanour when our baby grew up and left to settle abroad.”
“So,here I am, gathering the memories, as they twinkle at me flirtatiously!” He added. “You? Taking a trip down memory lane too?”
“I wish!” Answered Kashif. “That lane was vandalized and is empty. I search for ‘my lost tales’ amongst the stars but each one teases and fades away. Only the black canvas remains.”
“Head injury. Lost my memory.” Explained Kashif. “My wife of five years is a stranger to me and so is my two-year old son. This is our favourite holiday destination, supposedly. Every night, I stay up yearning for the moments I can’t recall.”
And then, the man who lived with his memories and the man who didn’t remember continued gazing at the stars in congenial quietude.
Ten months earlier
24th Feb 2020, East Delhi News
An irate fundamentalist mob thrashed a Muslim youth who was helping a fifty year old Hindu woman, unfamiliar to him, after she sustained grievous injuries in violent street clashes yesterday. The lady, identified as Mrs. Indu Bhardwaj did not survive. The identity of the youth is not yet known as he suffers from partial amnesia because of severe head injuries.
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