The roads were submerging in the lilac of twilight as the sun was going down below the horizon, leaving it’s “goodbyes” alive in the dying rays. Sharanya always wanted to see the whole of her college campus, but on every occasion, she failed to seize the opportunity of fulfilling her wish. It was their last day of stay at Jalpaiguri and Gautam had wilfully taken the responsibility of getting this wish fulfilled, not because his adrenaline rush had begun to revolt against his sober outer covering, but because of one reason; he wanted to enjoy Sharanya’s presence, one last time before leaving that place. Both of them kept walking, as long as they could, like every other day. Sharanya waited patiently outside a local liquor store, Gautam went inside. He came out with a large bottle covered with newspapers.
“What is it?”, Sharanya’s eyes gleamed with excitement.
“Whiskey it is!”, winked Gautam.
None of them had the energy or enthusiasm to walk on foot so they got inside a “Toto”. Toto is the simplest and cheapest mode of transport in that place, and enjoyable too.
In no time, they reached college; Gautam took out a joint from his pocket and both of them kept smoking, turn by turn. Weed had different effects on the two individuals, Sharanya used to get thoughtful and Gautam, who preferred mundanity to adventure, always used to doze off to sleep after taking a few whiffs of joint. Sharanya kept on talking, Gautam listened to her intently and drank from the bottle of whiskey. Ocassionally, he would pass the bottle to Sharanya and would steal a glance at her expressions while she narrated an old story with smokey concentration. Joints after joints, pegs after pegs, the level of intoxication kept shooting up to an extent where Gautam could not afford to stand on his legs and with a thud, sat on the ground, near Maya road. Sharanya’s legs quickevered and the hand with which she was holding the bottle was in full swing.
Another desire, to break an empty bottle of alcohol. Gautam who was hardly capable of keeping his head straight, tried making feeble attempts at stopping Sharanya, but all in vain. At once, with one of her hands swinging to an imaginary insane tune, she flung that bottle in the air, before Gautam could restrain her and a cracking sound was heard. Gautam got up hurriedly to search for that broken bottle; the element of fear always used to dominate him, even in his state of intense delirium. Sharanya stopped him, with all the little strength that she had.
“Don’t look there! It’s done and the bottle has been shattered into hundreds of pieces. You’ve heard the sound, be happy with it.”, chuckled Sharanya.
Gautam, understanding that it was not possible for him to control her, sat down quietly, with his red eyes half closed.
Sharanya kept traversing miles in her mind that resulted in her moving round and round, about the same place; she had her head on the ground and feet in the sky! She danced in the glory of sunlight coming from orange vapour lamps and the night had given consent to the day to take it’s place, in her mind. With red eyes, she saw moving buildings, lamp posts and all the things that caught her attention, as if she was in a merry-go-round. The lights, trying to bring her back to senses would end up getting diffused by her eyelashes and this mischief went on until she noticed something at the farthest end of Maya road which was shrouded in black.
She stood there, in a perilous state of awe, it was a face that she saw, too known to be that of a stranger. In his dormitory, filled with darkness, he smiled, and that being infectious, reached upto Sharanya’s lips in no time. Silence prevailed in the surroundings for a long time it seemed, as the measure of time had been long forgotten. A lot of questions were crowding up on her mind, the answers to she knew, she would never be able to find. Very soon, fireflies came in between and the thread connecting her light to his darkness started loosening up, she could clearly see that there was no one and that, it was just another trick that weed was playing on her mind.
She turned back to see Shankar and Sandeep(also known by the name, “Drug Dealer”) trying to wake Gautam up from his deep sleep. On seeing Sharanya, Shankar greeted her with his usual hug and Sandeep, who was looking drunk, smiled at her.
“What are you doing here, Barbie di?”, questioned Sandeep (still smiling).
Sandeep, who was in the third year of engineering at that time, had coined this name, Barbie, for Sharanya, which she adored as well.
“I will never see you without any intoxicating material in your hand. See, I call you Drug Dealer for a reason.”, Sharanya laughed as she took away a bottle full of wine from Sandeep’s hand. Shankar laughed as well and Sandeep scratched his head out of a sense of frolicky embarrassment. The one who had been sleeping all this while had gained consiousness by then as he was seen rubbing his eyes vigorously. After this, a Toto came their way; one could easily call it “Mercedes Toto” as it had no roof. They got inside it and started gossiping again; Shankar handed her a present and when she was about to open it’s wrapper, he requested her to open it on reaching home. Gautam, who liked dwelling in the restricted regions of his silence had taken to participating in their conversation, of late.
As they talked under the stars, indelible memories got created, memories that would not require dusting, memories that would connect them years after being separated from each other and just when this journey was about to draw to a calm end, all of them cried out in unison, “Jolu Zindabaad”. This will remain etched in their minds, forever.
P.S.: “Jolu” was the nickname given to their college, by it’s students.